Celery juice has become an increasingly popular health drink in recent years, with advocates claiming it can help with digestion, inflammation, weight loss, and more. One of the most common alleged benefits of celery juice is that it acts as a natural laxative and can help relieve constipation. But is there any truth to this claim? Let’s take a closer look at the evidence.
What is Celery Juice?
Celery juice is simply juice made from celery stalks and sometimes leaves. To make it, celery stalks are run through a juicer to extract the liquid. Celery juice contains high amounts of vitamin K, potassium, folate and vitamin B6. It also contains the phytochemicals apigenin and luteolin, which are potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.
Some key nutrients in 8 ounces (240 ml) of celery juice include:
|Vitamin K||194% DV|
|Vitamin B6||10% DV|
As you can see, celery juice is low in calories but packed with vitamin K, in addition to smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals. Now let’s look at why some claim it can act as a natural laxative.
What Makes Celery Juice a Laxative?
There are a few reasons why celery juice may have a laxative effect for some people:
Celery is a good source of insoluble fiber, providing 1.6 grams per cup of juiced celery. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stools and helps move material through the digestive tract more quickly. This can stimulate bowel movements.
High water content
Celery juice is mostly water, providing a good amount of hydration. Staying hydrated is key for maintaining regular bowel movements. Dehydration can lead to constipation.
Celery contains phytochemicals called phthalides that are natural laxatives and can help relax smooth muscle tissue in the intestines. This helps stimulate contractions to move stool along.
Celery juice contains electrolytes like potassium and sodium. Electrolytes help draw water into the intestines to soften stools and support regularity.
So in theory, the combination of fiber, water, phthalides and electrolytes in celery juice can work together to elicit a laxative effect for some people and relieve mild constipation.
Scientific Evidence on Celery Juice and Constipation
While the ingredients in celery juice suggest it should help with constipation, what does the clinical research say?
Unfortunately, there are no human studies specifically looking at celery juice for constipation relief. However, several studies have found beneficial effects from celery supplements:
– In a study in rats with constipation, celery extract increased stool frequency, shortened intestinal transit time and softened stools. The researchers concluded celery can act as a laxative.
– Another rat study found that celery extract improved loperamide-induced constipation by reducing gut transit time and increasing fecal weight and moisture.
– A study in mice found that celery leaf extract increased stool frequency and offered laxative effects comparable to the drug bisacodyl.
Overall the current evidence is limited, but promising. Celery juice and celery extracts appear to have laxative effects in animal studies, but more research is needed on celery juice specifically.
An important point is that the celery juice used in the studies provided concentrated doses of celery phytochemicals. The laxative effect may be less pronounced from juicing a few celery stalks at home. But it may still provide mild relief.
Purported Benefits of Celery Juice for Constipation
In addition to the potential laxative effect, fans of celery juice also say it can help relieve constipation in other ways, including:
Some claim celery juice can reduce inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which may alleviate constipation when it’s linked to inflammatory conditions like IBS. However, there’s limited evidence to support anti-inflammatory benefits.
Restoring stomach acid
Advocates say celery juice contains undiscovered “cluster salts” that restore proper stomach acid levels, improving digestion and constipation. This claim is unsubstantiated.
Some sources allege celery juice kills off pathogens like bacteria and Candida overgrowth that contribute to bloating, constipation and an imbalanced gut microbiome. However, there’s no clinical evidence to support antimicrobial effects.
Overall, many claims about celery juice improving gut health and digestion beyond simple laxative effects are currently not well supported by science. More research is needed on these specific benefits.
Is Celery Juice Safe?
For most people, consuming moderate amounts of celery juice appears to be safe and well tolerated with minimal side effects. Juicing a few celery stalks at home and drinking 4–16 ounces (120–480 ml) per day is unlikely to pose risks for most healthy adults.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind:
– Allergies – Some people may be allergic to celery and experience reactions like rashes, upset stomach, cramps or diarrhea. Discontinue use if any hypersensitivity develops.
– Medication interactions – Celery juice contains vitamin K, which can interfere with blood thinners. Speak with a healthcare provider if taking blood-thinning medication like warfarin.
– Pesticides – Celery ranks high on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list for pesticide residues. Consider buying organic.
– Juicing removes fiber – Juicing celery into juice eliminates the beneficial insoluble fiber content. Consider blending instead to retain fiber.
– Sodium – Celery juice provides sodium, which could increase fluid retention or blood pressure in salt-sensitive individuals.
Overall, talk to your healthcare provider before adding celery juice to your routine, especially if you have any medical conditions or take medications. Monitor yourself for any adverse effects.
Tips for Using Celery Juice as a Natural Laxative
If you want to try using celery juice for relief from occasional constipation, here are some tips:
– Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. This allows the celery to work through your system before any food or nutrients that may slow down its laxative effects.
– Use organic celery whenever possible to minimize pesticide exposure. Scrub and rinse conventionally grown celery well.
– Juice enough stalks to make 4–16 ounces of juice. Most advocates recommend 16 ounces, but start slow if new to celery juice.
– Drink the juice plain without added ingredients. Lemon can help cut some of the bitterness, but avoid sweeteners.
– Consider blending instead of juicing to retain the fiber, which aids the laxative effect. Add a splash of water if needed.
– Stay hydrated throughout the day to enhance the efficacy.
– Give it some time to work and pay attention to bodily cues. Effects may take several hours or longer in some individuals.
– Avoid juice from celery leaves at first since this can cause stronger laxative effects. Stick to juicing just the stalks.
– Discontinue use if diarrhea, cramping, bloating or other adverse effects develop.
Other Natural Laxatives to Consider
While celery juice may offer relief for some people, there are many other remedies to consider for constipation relief:
– Prune juice – Contains natural laxative compounds
– Senna/sennosides – Stimulate contractions to move bowels
– Psyllium husk – Adds bulk and absorbs water
– Flaxseeds/chia seeds – Provide fiber and omega-3s
– Aloe vera juice – Acts as a stimulant laxative
– Magnesium citrate – Pulls water into intestines
– Exercise – Helps increase motility and reduces transit time
– Probiotics – Support healthy gut microbiome
– Increased fiber intake – Fruits, vegetables, whole grains
– Increased fluid intake – Water, herbal teas
– Castor oil – An oral stimulant laxative
Speak to a healthcare practitioner to help determine which natural laxatives may be most appropriate based on your needs and health status.
When to See a Doctor
While using celery juice and other natural laxatives may help provide short-term relief in cases of mild constipation, see a doctor if:
– Constipation persists longer than 3 weeks
– Changes in bowel habits last more than a few weeks
– Blood in stool
– Unexplained weight loss
– Abdominal pain or cramping
– Nausea and vomiting
– Always needing laxatives for a bowel movement
Chronic constipation may be a sign of an underlying medical condition requiring treatment. Seek medical advice to identify and address the root cause.
Some evidence suggests celery juice can provide a natural laxative effect and help relieve occasional constipation, due to its fiber, water content, electrolytes and phytochemicals. However, human research is currently lacking. Celery juice appears reasonably safe for most people when consumed in moderation. But stronger laxative effects are possible at higher doses. Those with medical conditions or on medications should check with a healthcare professional before use. Overall, celery juice may be a useful natural remedy to try in conjunction with other healthy bowel-supporting habits. But be sure to consult a doctor if constipation persists or becomes severe.