Celery cures gout ? Sometimes. What's the evidence?

This page, celery cures gout ? what's the evidence, was last reviewed or updated on 29 May 2011. 

Celery, stalks and seed extract,are eaten by some gout sufferers. Some are convinced, or almost convinced, that celery cures or alleviates gout. Others are not convinced. For those for whom it has worked, it has not happened overnight with celery. A study has indicated that, for pain relief, three weeks is the minimum, more likely after six weeks. How is it that celery can bring relief from pain?

Celery is a diuretic, so it promotes the excretion of urine. Thus it helps removes uric acid from the body, an objective of all dietary and drug medication cures for gout. This is helpful but not unique – other foods act as diuretics too.

If celery possibly cures gout for some people one substance that helps to do it is 3nB (3-n-Butylpthalide). Few people outside the gout community will have heard of 3nB, but it’s the substance that gives celery its distinctive smell and taste. (Phthalides are also found in lovage and walnuts).

Studies Two well organised but small studies reached very interesting and positive conclusions about the possibility that celery cures gout. A celery extract, standardized to contain 85% 3nB, was tested on arthritis, osteoporosis and gout sufferers. The first group (15 people) were given 34 mg of this celery extract twice daily; a second group, (70 people), tested at a later date, received the larger amount of 75 mg twice daily for three weeks. 

Both groups reported lower pain levels and even complete relief from pain. Those receiving the higher dosage (the 2nd study) fared better. Unwanted side effects were not found.

Why should 3nB work, at least for some? As with the flavonoid anthocyanidins in cherries, 3nB may inhibit xanthine oxidase an enzyme involved in the production of uric acid in the liver. Celery also contains the flavonoids luteolin and apigenin. At least two studies have found that luteolin has anti-inflammatory properties. Apigenin may also have anti-pain, anti-inflammatory and anti uric acid properties. Apigenin has inhibited xanthine oxidase in test tube studies  - this is the enzyme needed to produce uric acid.

So celery’s effect may be to reduce uric acid production, and remove it through its diuretic function. A study showed it has done this on rats by inhibiting xanthine oxidase. Thus there were two positive effects on uric acid levels. Plus it at least reduced pain in the two studies mentioned above.

Furthermore, celery’s 3nB may aid in relaxing arteries, which together with its diuretic function, means it may reduce blood pressure. This is usually important for gout sufferers.

Another good property of celery is that raw celery contains a small amount of vitamin C (about 3.4 mg per 100 grams ) which studies have shown lowers uric acid levels although not at the level of 3.4 mg. Much more is required. However, more important than the small amount of vitamin C  is celery's potassium. 100 grams of raw celery contains a very useful 260 mg of potassium, which is an alkalizing mineral.

Experts have their say  One convinced celery for gout aficionado, Dr. James Duke, the author of best sellers such as "The Green Pharmacy" and "The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook," developed gout. He replaced allopurinol (the xanthine oxidase inhibitor medication which reduces uric acid production) with celery seed extract.

Note he used celery seed extract for gout, not celery stalks or celery seeds. He reported that celery seed extract kept his uric acids levels below those which usually trigger gout. And that he had not had a gout attack since he began taking celery seed extract. So uric acid levels were kept down in a human, and not just rats.

A well known naturopathic doctor, Dr.Michael Murray N.D., has also endorsed celery as a natural gout remedy with the caveat that much still remains to be learnt about how celery actually works.

So there you have it. Two experts say it, and two studies have shown promising results - celery can cure gout. It could be part of a natural gout remedy for you. But it isn't a panacea for all gout sufferers. And you may have to eat celery, or take celery seed extract, until you're sure gout won't return. That could be perhaps two years, or even a lifetime. The studies found that pain, in some people, returned if the celery seed extract was stopped.

How much celery?  You can try fresh celery stalks.They are fresher if they are not limp.The 3nB is in the stalks, not the leaves. 4ozs (113g) daily is the minimum, that’s about four stalks but eight would be  better. It goes well with cheddar cheese which is a low purine food. In fact this is an excellent anti-gout meal/snack, because cheese has also been found to lower uric acid.

Read more about this on the milk and gout page.

And if you're trying to improve your body's acid-alkaline balance as part of your efforts to lower uric acid, by making it more alkaline, note that celery stalks are an alkalising (alkalizing) food. This is partly because celery is rich in potassium.

Go to our first page about an alkaline diet for gout

Celery seed extract for gout - extracts of celery seeds like these can be a gout remedy.

You can eat celery on the diet that had a lot of success against gout in a South African study. Relevant figures are for 100 grams raw celery: kcal 16; protein 0.69 grams; carbohydrate 3 grams; fat 0.17grams. You will understand why we've given these figures about celery when you understand how this diet works...Click on this link to learn more about this diet.

Dietary Supplement Dosage Buy only a celery seed dietary supplement extract which has been standardised (standardized) to 85% 3nB. Celery seed extract as tablets or capsules. Twice daily for a total of 150 - 300mg daily. You'll then know you're getting sufficient. These are especially useful if you get bored eating celery so regularly. Or when you are travelling. Juice made from celery will also give you the 3nB. Make it in a juicer or blender with 4-8 stalks. 

The extract may work better than celery stalks or juice. You can probably take celery seed extract along with drug medications, but you'll need to discuss this point with your doctor before doing it. 

Celery seed liquid extract can also be purchased at some online health foods and supplements retailers - a serving is 1 gram.

Caution! Celery should not be taken if you're pregnant, or during lactation, or if you have kidney disease. If you're eating lots of celery or taking celery dietary supplements don’t spend too much time under the sun.

Related pages

For the purine content of foods and beverages see the uric acid page. 

Read what our visitors say about celery and gout

Like celery, olive leaf extract contains apigenin and luteolin, and they have demonstrated inhibition of xanthine oxidase in test tubes.

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