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Does celery juice clean out your bowels?

Celery juice has become a popular health trend, with claims that drinking it first thing in the morning can provide a range of benefits. One purported benefit is that celery juice helps clean out the bowels and promotes regularity. But is there any truth to this claim?

What is celery juice?

Celery juice is made by juicing celery stalks. It contains mostly water, in addition to vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other plant compounds from the celery. Proponents claim that drinking 16 ounces of celery juice on an empty stomach can provide the following benefits:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve gut health and digestion
  • Detoxify the body
  • Boost energy levels
  • Clear up skin conditions
  • Promote weight loss

However, many of these purported benefits lack scientific evidence. Let’s examine specifically the claim that celery juice cleanses the bowels and promotes regularity.

Celery juice as a laxative

Some proponents claim that celery juice contains special cluster salts that have a laxative effect and help flush out toxins from the digestive tract. However, there is little evidence to support these claims.

Celery does contain some fiber, which can help promote regularity. A 1-cup serving of celery contains 1-2 grams of fiber. The daily recommended fiber intake for adults is 25-30 grams.

Celery also contains a high water content, which can help soften stool and prevent constipation. But the same effect could be achieved by simply drinking a glass of water.

Active compounds in celery

Celery contains several compounds that may contribute to its digestive effects:

  • Pthalides: Compounds that help relax smooth muscles, such as those in the intestinal wall, which may help improve digestion.
  • Phenolic acids: Antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Electrolytes: Including potassium and sodium, which can help regulate fluid balance.

However, the concentration of these compounds in celery juice depends on the preparation method. Juicing removes the insoluble fiber from celery, which may reduce some of its potential digestive benefits.

Laxative effects of celery juice

While celery contains compounds that may aid digestion, there is limited evidence that juicing or drinking celery juice has strong laxative effects for most people.

However, some people may be more sensitive to the compounds in celery. For them, drinking a large amount of celery juice on an empty stomach could potentially lead to loose stools or diarrhea.

If you experience diarrhea after drinking celery juice, you may want to reduce your intake. Start with 4-6 ounces at a time and dilute it with water, gradually increasing to higher amounts if tolerated.

Those with inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis may also want to use caution with celery juice, as high amounts of insoluble fiber can sometimes exacerbate symptoms.

Other foods and juices for constipation relief

While celery juice alone may not have powerful laxative effects for most people, it can be included as part of a diet aimed at preventing or relieving constipation. Other foods that can help get things moving include:

  • Prunes
  • Figs
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bran cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Beans and lentils
  • Flax and chia seeds
  • Broccoli and brussels sprouts

Some other juices that may help relieve constipation include:

  • Prune juice
  • Apple juice
  • Carrot juice
  • Orange juice
  • Wheatgrass juice

Staying hydrated and getting regular physical activity can also promote bowel regularity.

Should you drink celery juice for constipation relief?

Based on the available evidence, celery juice on its own is unlikely to have dramatic cleansing effects for most people.

However, it can be included as part of an overall healthy diet focused on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and water to help support digestive health.

Keep in mind that suddenly increasing fiber intake can cause gas and bloating. Gradually increase sources of fiber over a few weeks.

Drinking 16 ounces of celery juice on an empty stomach might lead to diarrhea for some people. Start with a smaller amount.

If you continue to experience constipation despite lifestyle and dietary changes, see your healthcare provider to rule out any underlying conditions.

The bottom line

While claims about celery juice completely cleansing out the bowels are exaggerated, including celery juice as part of a balanced diet can contribute to improved regularity.

However, celery juice on its own has modest effects for most people. Changes to your overall diet and lifestyle are likely to have bigger benefits for constipation relief.

Food Effect on Bowel Regularit
Celery juice May have mild benefits due to water and electrolyte content
Prunes Increase bowel movement frequency
Bran cereal Increases stool bulk and moisture
Oatmeal High fiber improves regularity
Beans and lentils Rich in fiber to support digestive health
Broccoli and brussels sprouts Contain fiber to reduce constipation

When to see a doctor

Occasional constipation is common. But if you experience ongoing constipation, see your doctor to identify any underlying causes.

See a doctor right away if constipation is accompanied by:

  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blood in the stool
  • Unintended weight loss

Chronic constipation may be linked to:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Anal fissures
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Neurological conditions

Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and risk factors and recommend appropriate treatment to find relief.

The bottom line

Celery juice is unlikely to dramatically clean out the bowels for most people. While it may have some mild benefits, increasing fiber intake, fluid intake, exercise and overall diet improvements are likely to be more effective at relieving constipation.