Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden
Wild celery, Apium graveolens, also called garden celery, leaf celery, par-cel or just celery (although it is not the same plant as the one sold in greengrocers), is a very close relative of celeriac and also the normal salad celery, but does not develop the long stems of the standard variety. It is grown mainly for its leaves, although the seeds are also used medicinally. It is a hardy biennial which reaches a height of about 2′ (60cm).
As it is a biennial, if you want to use the seeds for medicinal use, you will need to sow 2 years in a row. Seeds are produced in the second year after the flowers have been pollinated by bees.
Seeds purchased for the garden should not be used medicinally, as they will have been dressed with fungicide, which may be poisonous and will any case detract from its properties. Wild celery is a member of the Umbelliferae aka Apiaceae and should not be collected from the wild, as it bears a superficial resemblance to the deadly hemlock.
The easiest way to collect the seeds is to enclose the flowers after pollination (as they fade) in paper bags, so that the seeds do not get lost, then cut the flowers off with the stalk attached and hang them up somewhere dry (still inside the bags) until the seeds fall naturally or with some assistance into the bag. The flowers and stalks can then be disposed of and the seeds picked over to remove debris and poured into a storage jar.
Celery juice is an appetizer, a strong diuretic and treatment for flatulence. It also promotes menstruation, is a good tonic, and helps to promote weight loss (but only as part of a weight loss regime, which must include regular exercise and attention to diet). Finally, it can be used as a treatment for edema, gout, rheumatism, chesty coughs and colds. To help fight skin problems, leaves can be made into tea or used in salad.
Make a decoction by putting 2 teaspoonfuls of seeds into a pan to each cup (250ml/8 fl oz) of cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. A dose of about one third of a cup (85 ml) up to 3 times a day can be used to treat bronchitis and rheumatism.
The roots, which can be dug up in the Autumn of the second year, can be pressed to extract an oil which is said to restore sexual potency after illness, although I can find no mention anywhere of the dosage, and it may just be an old wives’ tale. (Having said that, many old wives’ tales, though long sniffed at by conventional medicine, turn out to have been correct.)
I offer a selection of celery products in my online shop.
As with all herbs grown for remedial purposes, wild celery should be grown organically to prevent its properties being corrupted by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic wild celery visit the Gardenzone.