Celery and Hypertension

December 14, 2010

smoking doctor

Science fail or marketing win? You decide.

I have high blood pressure. I’m not really sure why, but it probably has something to do with being too fat, drinking lots of beer, smoking cigarettes, eating cheeseburgers, and not exercising enough.  It usually hovers around 140/90, but I’ve discovered a sure fire way to temporarily propel those numbers up into stroke territory.  Follow these simple steps and you too might soon be entertaining your friends with your uncontrollable drooling.

  1. Drink a bunch of Samuel Adams
  2. Down 4 cups of coffee
  3. Chain smoke a pack of cigarettes
  4. Eat a delicious cheeseburger
  5. Go to the gym for some power lifting

That’s it.  You’re probably dead or disabled now.  Since I’m neither, I must have skipped a step.  Like, number 5.  Strangely, I didn’t feel up to power lifting after chain smoking and eating some ground up cow sandwich.  (Also, I don’t have a gym membership so it just seemed like a lot of trouble.)

If I HAD decided to go work on my pecs, I’m pretty sure I would be pricing one-hand keyboards right now instead of blogging.  Instead, I checked my blood pressure because I felt like an overinflated beach ball and saw that I was at 195/110.  For those of you that don’t understand what that pressure reading means, see the awesome Japanese dude below for an interesting visual.


Ultra sneeze attack GO!

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  High blood pressure is not only useful for putting out forest fires, but does so through the use of an Ultraman style blood laser!  Awesome!  Except…no.

Thankfully, I had some celery.


Yeah. This stuff.

I’ve discovered that eating 3 or 4 celery stalks has the fairly immediate effect of lowering my blood pressure by around 10%.  As it turns out, there is a scientific explanation for this.

A yummy chemical compound found in celery, given the catchy name 3-n-butylphthalide, relaxes the smooth muscles in arterial walls which then dilate, lowering blood pressure.


Just like most things that modern science “discovers”, the ancient world was already fully aware of the benefits of celery.  Hippocrates (c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC), a.k.a. the father of medicine, often prescribed it as a treatment for nervous tension.  Indeed, celery was highly prized by the ancient Greeks and was often given as an award during sporting events.


Ayurvedic practitioners on the Indian subcontinent have been using celery to treat a variety of ailments for around 3000 years.


Chinese Medicine

"C'mon buddy, you're breakin' my balls here. You won't find a better price for tiger penis this side of the Yangtze. C'mon, buddy."

The Chinese have been using it to treat high blood pressure for 2000 years or so.  The Japanese have been using it to treat painful arthritic joints for several hundred years at least.

So, what took western medicine so long to catch up?  I don’t know, but it sounds like fodder for another blog topic.  Way back in the 1990’s, a medical student and a pharmacologist began studying the chemical properties of celery after the medical student noticed his Chinese father successfully treating his own high blood pressure by eating 4 stalks of celery every day for a week.  They determined that the phthalide was the compound that was probably responsible for the effect and so they injected it into rats and noticed a similar drop in blood pressure.

I’m sure that after another 20 years of redundant animal testing, the FDA will finally approve the use of phthalide for the treatment of human hypertension and then western doctors can prescribe some pharmaceutical company’s $20-per-pill wonder drug to treat high blood pressure.  Until then, I’ll just eat celery more often.