Is celery a laxative?

Celery has long been touted as a low-calorie food that can help with weight loss. Some people also believe that eating celery can have a laxative effect and help relieve constipation. But is this true? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.

What is Celery?

Celery is a marshland plant that has been cultivated as a vegetable since ancient times. The stalks, leaves, and seeds are all edible. Celery belongs to the Apiaceae plant family and its scientific name is Apium graveolens.

Some key facts about celery:

  • It is 95% water.
  • It is low in calories – a 100g serving contains just 14 calories.
  • It contains fiber, folate, potassium, and vitamin K.
  • It has a high content of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Celery has a long fibrous stalk that is crunchy and crisp when eaten raw. It has a very mild flavor.

Nutritional Profile of Celery

Here is the nutritional profile of raw celery per 100g serving (Source: USDA):

Nutrient Amount
Water 95.43 g
Protein 0.86 g
Fat 0.2 g
Carbs 2.97 g
Sugar 1.34 g
Fiber 1.6 g
Calcium 40 mg
Iron 0.2 mg
Magnesium 11 mg
Phosphorus 24 mg
Potassium 260 mg
Sodium 30 mg
Zinc 0.13 mg
Vitamin C 3.1 mg
Folate 36 mcg
Vitamin A 22 IU
Vitamin K 29.3 mcg

As you can see from the table, celery is low in calories, carbs, protein and fat. It provides some fiber, folate, vitamin K and potassium.

Does Celery Have a Laxative Effect?

Some people claim that eating celery can act as a natural laxative and help relieve constipation. Is this true?

There are a few reasons why celery may have mild laxative effects:

  • Fiber content – Celery contains some fiber, with 1.6g per 100g serving. Fiber helps add bulk to stool and can help food and waste move through the intestines more easily.
  • High water content – Celery is made up of almost 96% water. This can help soften up stool and prevent dehydration, which contributes to constipation.
  • Contains apigenin – Celery has a compound called apigenin that may help stimulate contractions in the intestines.
  • Increases gastric juices – Eating celery may increase production of gastric juices and improve motility in the gastrointestinal tract.

However, the laxative effect of celery is considered mild compared to other foods and laxatives.

Studies on Celery and Laxative Effects

There have not been many scientific studies looking specifically at celery and constipation relief. However, some research suggests it may have benefits:

– A 2021 study in rats found that celery seed extract increased stool frequency, gastric emptying, and gastrointestinal motility. The laxative effect was attributed to apigenin.1

– An older study from 1997 looked at the laxative effects of celery, parsley, and feverfew herbs in rats. Celery was found to have a mild laxative effect.2

– One study in rats with diarrhea found that celery seed extract slowed down intestinal transit time and improved diarrhea symptoms.3 This may be due to the antioxidants in celery regulating intestinal contractions.

While these rat studies show some promise, human studies are still needed to confirm celery’s laxative effects. Anecdotally, many people do report that eating more celery seems to help relieve mild constipation.

Other Potential Digestive Benefits of Celery

In addition to possible mild laxative effects, celery may offer other benefits for digestive health:

– May reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract due to antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds.4

– Helps promote healthy gut bacteria due to polysaccharides in celery.5

– Contains compounds like luteolin that may help prevent stomach ulcers.6

– Celery extracts have been shown to reduce gastric ulcer formation in rat studies.7

More high quality human studies are needed to confirm these digestive benefits of celery. But the current evidence and traditional uses of celery for digestion are promising.

Downsides of Too Much Celery

Eating celery in normal culinary amounts is likely safe for most people. However, consuming very large amounts of celery may cause some adverse effects:

  • – Can make diarrhea worse in those prone to diarrhea.
  • – May cause gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating due to high fiber and water content.
  • – The vegetable safety of celery greens consumed in very high amounts is unknown.
  • – Celery seeds contain volatile oils that can be toxic in excess.
  • – People with celery allergy may experience adverse reactions.

As with most foods, moderate portions of celery are recommended rather than overdoing it. Very high intakes of celery may cause diarrhea rather than relieve constipation in some individuals. Those taking medications should also check for interactions with celery.

Tips for Using Celery to Prevent Constipation

Here are some tips for harnessing celery’s gut-healthy properties:

– Eat about 1-2 celery stalks daily as a snack or diced up in salads. This provides a good amount of fiber, nutrients, and water.

– Drink celery juice on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. This may stimulate digestion and gastric juices.

– Use celery leaves and seeds to brew into tea. Celery tea is a traditional digestive aid.

– Make a celery soup or stew using both the stalks and leaves. Heat helps release beneficial compounds.

– Add dried celery seed powder to smoothies, juices, oatmeal, yogurt, and salad dressings.

– Pair celery with other high fiber foods and hydrating foods to maximize effects.

– Increase celery intake gradually over a few weeks to allow the body to adjust.

As with any food, moderation is key. Excessive celery consumption can cause unwanted effects in some individuals.


Celery does appear to have mild natural laxative effects due to its fiber, water content, apigenin, and ability to increase gastric juices. The scientific evidence for celery’s efficacy as a laxative is limited, but some studies in rats show promising results. Celery may also offer other digestive benefits like reducing gut inflammation, promoting healthy bacteria, and preventing ulcers. While celery is likely safe for most people, excessive amounts could cause diarrhea or interaction effects. When eaten in normal food amounts, celery can be a healthy, low-calorie addition to the diet that may help keep bowel movements regular. More human research on celery as a laxative is still needed.


1. Al-Suhaimi EA, Al-Rasheed NM, Al-Massarani SM, et al. Evaluation of the laxative and prokinetic effects of celery (Apium graveolens) in rats. J Integr Med. 2021;19(2):162-168.

2. Doherty M. Inhibition of arachidonic acid release, mechanistic studies with thyme, celery seed and feverfew. Ann Rheum Dis. 1997;56:426.

3. Palanisamy C, Vellaiappan K, George T. Effect of celery (Apium graveolens) extracts on some biochemical parameter and histology of intestine in letrozole induced polycystic ovary syndrome Wistar rat model. Biomed Pharmacother. 2019;109:291-301.

4. Kooti W, Ali-Akbari S, Asadi-Samani M, Ghadery H, Ashtary-Larky D. A review on medicinal plant of Apium graveolens. Adv Herb Med. 2015;1(1):48-59.

5. Kooti W, Farokhipour M, Asadzadeh Z, Ashtary-Larky D, Asadi-Samani M. The role of medicinal plants in the treatment of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review. Electron Physician. 2016;8(1):1832-1842.

6. Al-Asmari AK, Athar MT, Kadasah SG. An updated phytopharmacological review on medicinal plant of Arab region: Apium graveolens Linn. Pharmacogn Rev. 2017;11(21):13-18.

7. Otrigoo NO, Palomino OM, Wojciechowski P. Celery: Prescription for Hypertension?. J Nutr Disord Ther. 2019;9(2):267???272.

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