Plant Profiler

Celery (Apium graveolens)

Apium graveolens
Synonyms / Common Names / Related Terms
5-methoxypsoralen, alpha-methylene gamma-butyrolactone group, Api g, Api g 4, Api g 4 profilin, Apiaceae (family), Apium graveolens, Apium graveolens L., celeriac, celery extract, celery juice, celery profilin, celery root, celery seed, celery seed oil, celery soup, celery spice, celery tuber, cross-reactive carbohydrate determinants, crude celery, furocoumarins, immunogenic food, methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen), phthalide, profilin, psoralen, raw celery, sedanolide, Umbelliferae (family).

Mechanism of Action


  • Constituents: Celery contains phenols and furocoumarins (psoralens).7,6,5 Celery seed oil contains the natural phthalide sedanolide.8 Celery tuber also contains methoxsalen (8-methoxypsoralen) and 5-methoxypsoralen and the allergen profilin (Api g 1), which shows high homology to birch pollen profilin.1,2,3,4
  • Antioxidant: In an in vitro study, celery showed some antioxidant activity.7
  • Cellular protective effects: In an in vitro study, sedanolide, a natural phthalide from celery seed oil, showed protective effects against hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2))- and tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBOOH)-induced toxicity in HepG2 and CaCo-2 cells.8 When the cells were cultured in sedanolide-free medium for another two cell cycles (72 hours), a decrease in cell viability was observed for HepG2 cells.
  • Hepatic effects: In a rat study assessing the effect of celery extract on lipid levels, the celery extract significantly lowered hepatic triacylglycerol lipase activity, but significantly increased hepatic microsomal P450 content.10 In a related study, rats drinking aqueous celery extract for eight weeks showed no undesirable side effects in liver functions.9
  • Lipid-lowering effects: In a series of three rat studies by the same researcher, significant reduction was found in the serum total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein cholesterol in the celery-treated rats.10,11,9 In one of the studies, celery extract significantly lowered triglyceride concentrations10, but in another study, celery extract did not change serum triglyceride levels11. The concentration of hepatic triglyceride was significantly higher in the celery-treated group than in the control group in one of the three studies.10 The authors hypothesize that the celery extract may enhance 14C-cholesterol/metabolites excretion through increased bile acid excretion, not by modulating the activity of HMG-CoA reductase9. Interestingly, the active extract did not contain 3-n-butylphthalide (BuPh), a unique compound in celery that has previously been reported to have lipid-lowering action.10,11 In fact, when BuPh alone was administered to the rats, there were no significant changes in the rats' serum and liver lipid profiles.11 Instead, thin layer chromatography indicated that polar compounds with sugar or amino acid side chains(s) could be the hypocholesterolaemic constituents of celery extract.9
  • Sedative effects: In a mouse study, 3, n-butylphthalide and sedanenolide isolated from celery oil showed weak sedative activity, prolonged pentobarbital narcosis, and induced sleep immediately following recovery from a prior barbiturate treatment.12


  • Insufficient available evidence.

  1. Scheurer, S., Wangorsch, A., Haustein, D., and Vieths, S. Cloning of the minor allergen Api g 4 profilin from celery (Apium graveolens) and its cross-reactivity with birch pollen profilin Bet v 2. Clin Exp Allergy 2000;30(7):962-971. 10848918
  2. Scheurer, S., Son, D. Y., Boehm, M., Karamloo, F., Franke, S., Hoffmann, A., Haustein, D., and Vieths, S. Cross-reactivity and epitope analysis of Pru a 1, the major cherry allergen. Mol Immunol 1999;36(3):155-167. 10403481
  3. Ljunggren, B. Severe phototoxic burn following celery ingestion. Arch.Dermatol. 1990;126(10):1334-1336. 2221939
  4. Halmepuro, L. and Lowenstein, H. Immunological investigation of possible structural similarities between pollen antigens and antigens in apple, carrot and celery tuber. Allergy 1985;40(4):264-272. 4003724
  5. Egan, C. L. and Sterling, G. Phytophotodermatitis: a visit to Margaritaville. Cutis 1993;51(1):41-42. 8419109
  6. Weber, I. C., Davis, C. P., and Greeson, D. M. Phytophotodermatitis: the other "lime" disease. J Emerg Med 1999;17(2):235-237. 10195477
  7. Chu, Y. F., Sun, J., Wu, X., and Liu, R. H. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common vegetables. J Agric Food Chem 11-6-2002;50(23):6910-6916. 12405796
  8. Woods, J. A., Jewell, C., and O'Brien, N. M. Sedanolide, a natural phthalide from celery seed oil: effect on hydrogen peroxide and tert-butyl hydroperoxide-induced toxicity in HepG2 and CaCo-2 human cell lines. In Vitr Mol Toxicol  2001;14(3):233-240. 11846995
  9. Tsi, D. and Tan, B. K. The mechanism underlying the hypocholesterolaemic activity of aqueous celery extract, its butanol and aqueous fractions in genetically hypercholesterolaemic RICO rats. Life Sci 1-14-2000;66(8):755-767. 10680583
  10. Tsi, D., Das, N. P., and Tan, B. K. Effects of aqueous celery (Apium graveolens) extract on lipid parameters of rats fed a high fat diet. Planta Med 1995;61(1):18-21. 7700983
  11. Tsi, D. and Tan, B. K. Effects of celery extract and 3-N-butylphthalide on lipid levels in genetically hypercholesterolaemic (RICO) rats. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 1996;23(3):214-217. 8934610
  12. Bjeldanes, L. F. and Kim I-S. Sedative activity of celery oil constituents. Journal of Food Science 1978;43(1):143-144.

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