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Celery in moderation and health benefits

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If you're a runner or doing exercise and have eaten a lot of celery, you could get hit with celery shock, a sudden drop in blood pressure. But on the other hand, four stalks of celery, a traditional Chinese medicine custom might help lower too high blood pressure.

Also see the book, Best Choices from the People’s Pharmacy, page 388. A section in the book mentions the celery remedy. But they note, 8 stalks of celery. Other sources reiterate 4 stalks of celery were used in Mr. Le's celery remedy brought to the attention of the University of Chicago investigation. Here's how the first research on celery and hypertension in a science research environment may have begun.

In 1992, at the University of Chicago Medical Center, Mr. Minh Le, father of a University of Chicago medical student, had been diagnosed with hypertension, decided that instead of cutting back on salt, as advised by his physician, he wanted to use a traditional Chinese remedy for high blood pressure.

Traditional Chinese medicine recommended eating about four stalks of celery (about a quarter pound) daily for a one-week stretch and cutting out the celery for the following three weeks before resuming the regimen. Mr. Minh Le also refused to take the standard blood pressure medications prescribed by his physician, according to the book, The New Healing Herbs, by Michael Castleman.

The New Healing Herbs, book also reports that Mr. Minh Le ate the four celery stalks for one week and took three weeks off. Within a week his blood pressure dropped from 158/96 to 118/82.

Mr. Minh Le, through his son, brought this ancient Chinese folkloric remedy to researchers to test at the University of Chicago Medical Center, where the investigators tested animals by injecting the mammals with a small amount of 3-n-butyl phthalide, a chemical compound that is found in celery. Mr. Minh Le's son, Quang Le, and University of Chicago pharmacologist, William Elliot, Ph.D isolated the compound,3-n-butyl phthalide and injected rats with the equivalent amount of what's found in four stalks of celery.

Not only did the rat's blood pressure drop 13 percent in a week, but the rats' cholesterol levels also dropped by seven percent. The high fiber in the celery helped to lower the cholesterol levels in the animal experiment.

The chemical that reduced the animals' blood pressure readings turned out to be phthalide. It's known in scientific circles that phthalide relaxes the muscles and arteries that regulate blood pressure

In the local Sacramento and Davis area, the University of California, Davis has been studying the effects of vegetable juice on people's health. Can drinking vegetable juice lower your blood pressure and help you lose weight? If so, how much? Also, see the news article published in the October 18, 2010 issue of Epoch Times by Jack Phillips, "Blood Pressure Could Be Lowered by Eating Watermelon, Study Finds." This pilot study at the University of Florida found that eating six grams daily of L-citrulline/L-arginine amino acids, extracted from watermelon, lowered the blood pressure of all nine participants, four men and five postmenopausal women aged 51 to 57.

According to the study, arterial function improved, reducing aortic blood pressure, during the six week test period. The patients were healthy except all had prehypertension, which can precede cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, according to FSU professor.

The problem when you examine such a study is that the participants had prehypertension and were healthy. How would watermelon extract help older people with chronic hypertension, people who may rarely be studied in relation to foods and nutrition?

According to the article, watermelon is the greatest edible natural source of L-citrulline. The body converts this amino acid into L-arginine, which is required to maintain healthy blood pressure. Scientists noted that taking L-arginine directly as a supplement can cause gastrointestinal problems, while consuming the watermelon extract caused no adverse effects in the participants.

Additionally, watermelons are rich in fiber, vitamins A, B6, C, potassium, and lycopene. In another study, people who had recent heart attacks suffered a high death rate after taking arginine supplements. So you have to be careful before you take supplements apart from foods. Talk to your doctor.

Fresh foods and good nutrition may be helpful, but for most people over age 65, where are the studies that measure the effects of nutritional extracts or foods on older people with chronic hypertension who are not responding to medicines?

Researchers at the University of California-Davis a few years ago conducted a 12-week study with vegetable juices among adults ages 40-65 years. All of the people in the study who drank at least two cups of vegetable juice met daily vegetable recommendations. But only seven percent of the non-juice drinkers met the goal. The participants in the study with borderline high blood pressure who drank one to two servings of V8 juice lowered their blood pressure significantly.

Can Four Stalks of Celery Really Lower Your Blood Pressure?

Can four stalks of celery really lower your blood pressure if you eat it one week on and three weeks off? Check out the article, "Celery studies yield blood pressure boon - 3-n-butyl phthalide chemical contained in celery," Science News, May 9, 1992 by Carol Ezzell. This article has been referred to frequently when writing about using foods as medicine. Mention of the details contained in this article appear in the book, New Foods for Healing, by Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention Health Books, published by Bantam Books in 1998. References to some of the details of various research studies on celery appear on pages 171-173.

Celery is a traditional Asian folk remedy for high blood pressure. Researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center to put one man’s folkloric remedy to the scientific test. Researchers keep looking into foods that may inhibit angiotensin-converting enzyme. Too many people still think the idea of celery helping lower blood pressure of people with high blood pressure not caused by tumors is an urban myth.

No, it's ancient Chinese medicine that has been tested. But does it work for most people? Perhaps it may work only if your high blood pressure is caused by too much renin in your blood produced by your kidneys or perhaps combined with salt-sensitivity, since celery still has some salt. But your body needs a little salt to survive. That's why celery has been tested and testing continues.

According to the September 7, 2010 article in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, by Lauran Neergaard, Associated Press, "Test may better tailor blood-pressure meds: Studies find hypertension rises if drugs don't match hormone," how true this plays out. Also see the article, Debate over whether renin levels should be measured routinely.

Taking a drug that's not a match can trigger a jump in your blood pressure. What if you need treatment for high blood pressure in order to lower your kidney's too-high renin levels, but instead you're given a water pill, a diuretic as the first line of treatment? It could make your blood pressure soar even higher. Talk to your doctor before you're given the so-called first-line of treatment , which might be a "water pill" when you walk into a doctor's office and have your blood pressure measured. Find out first if the high blood pressure is caused by too much renin.

Doctors can't treat hypertension as if it is one condition. Different people have different reasons why their blood pressure is too high. It's going to be too high renin levels, a tumor, or too much salt and water. One of those three conditions needs to be verified by a blood test or other medical means. If a genetic variant in the kidneys are producing too much renin, a hormone in the blood stream, then the patient may have constricted arteries. That's why a test is necessary other than a general exam.

You won't find a routine test yet for that renin hormone. And that's the problem in Sacramento and elsewhere. It's going to be some time, a long wait perhaps, before such a test is routinely given. Some doctors are still skeptical. If you look at the research over the past few years, there's no clear benefit, according to the September 7, 2010 Sacramento Bee (Associated Press) article, "Test may better tailor blood-pressure meds." Also check out the August 19, 2010 article published at the Severe Hypertension.Net site, "Blood pressure test may help guide treatment."

What Are Some Food Remedies To Slightly Lower Blood Pressure That Are Being Tested?

Scientists also found the ingredients in aged Gouda cheese may offer some benefits. Japanese investigators are researching fermented milk products such as kefir. The Chinese folkloric remedy is to eat four stalks of celery daily.

When arteries, blood vessels, and muscles are relaxed, the blood vessels then dilate, according to the researchers. Phthalide is a chemical that also reduced the amount of "stress hormones," called catecholamines, in the blood. Don't confuse 'phthalide' which relaxes muscles and arteries that comes from celery with 'phthalates,' which are chemicals leaching from plasticizers and plastics.

Interestingly, stress hormones also raise blood pressure since catecholamines constrict blood vessels. Even though there were no such invention as blood pressure monitors in ancient China, Asian folk medicine practitioners using traditional Chinese folk medicine, advised their own hypertension patients for the past thousand years to eat four to five celery-stalks every day for a week, then stop for three weeks.

Then start again for one week on celery and three weeks off celery. How did they know who had hypertension if high blood pressure doesn't show symptoms unless it's very serious? Be careful if you’re salt sensitive.

One stalk of celery does contain about 35 milligrams of sodium. Some people may be so salt-sensitive, then even a small amount of salt may cause blood pressure to go up rather than down. However, everyone needs a basic amount of salt found in whole foods.

You can’t live without a certain base level of salt. Talk to your doctor about how much sodium you need if you're salt sensitive. You can also take a multiple mineral supplement that contains sodium, but not sodium chloride.

It’s sodium chloride that raises blood pressure, not sodium, as found in baking soda, for some people. Find out which category you're in. But if you’re salt sensitive, talk to your doctor. Same goes if you have kidney disease or injury. By eating foods such as canned fish packed in water without added salt, you’ll still be getting some salt.

Then again, if you eat too much celery, it’s dangerous if you have salt-sensitive hypertension. Are four stalks of celery going to be helpful or too much? There’s also an herbicide built into the celery. It’s made of several compounds called psoralens, that protect celery from fungi.

The psoralens may also harm you. So don’t go overboard with celery because the psoralens could make your skin so sensitive to sunlight, that you’ll burn after spending a very short time in the sun.

Runners have been known to suffer from celery shock caused by exercising after eating celery. Be careful if you decide to eat four stalks of celery at a sitting. Can it help you? Find out by working with your doctor, naturopath, or nutritionist.

Celery Stops Tumor Cells from Growing

Celery contains acetylenics, compounds that stop tumor cells from growing. Also, compounds in celery called phenolic acids block the action of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Do prostaglandins encourage the growth of tumor cells? See the article, "Health Benefits of Celery."

According to the article, "Health Benefits of Celery." Studies found that "celery contains a at least eight compounds that help prevent cancer cells from spreading. Certain compounds called acetylenics have been shown to stop the growth of tumor cells."

Celery also contains compounds called "phonolic acids that block the action of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which encourage the growth of tumor cells." Coumarins, another phytonutrient in celery "helps prevent free-radicals from damaging cells and prevent the formation and development of colon and stomach cancers."

Can Celery Starve Cancer Cells?

Celery is known to contain at least eight families of anti-cancer compounds. A study at Rutgers University of New Jersey found that celery contains a number of compounds that help prevent cancer cells from spreading.

The researchers found that celery contains compounds called acetylenics shown to stop the growth of tumor cells. The phonolic acids in celery help to block the action of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which encourage the growth of tumor cells. Coumarins, another phytonutrient in celery helps prevent free-radicals from damaging cells and prevent the formation and development of the colon and stomach cancers. Read more on the healing effects of celery and celery juice in the article, "The Incredible Powers of Celery Juice," by Sheryl Walters, published in Natural News.com, October 24, 2008 .

Research is ongoing and promising pointing in the direction that celery could lower your blood pressure and at the same time block tumor cells from growing in your body. Keep reading the latest research to see how many human trials compared to animal research studies have been done using celery compounds to see whether or how they block tumor cell growth.

Celery works cooked or raw. An eight-ounce cup of celery, raw or cooked, contains about 9 milligrams of vitamin-C, 15 percent of the Daily Value (DV); 426 milligrams of potassium, 12 percent of the DV; and 60 milligrams of calcium, 6 percent of the DV. Also helpful as a cooking spice or fragrant salad dressing alternative to salt and pepper are celery seeds.

Celery-Hibiscus "Ice Cream" (Frozen Dessert) Recipe

4 stalks celery, clean and scraped

4 oz. dried edible hibiscus flowers

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup pomegranate juice

1 cup cherry juice

1/2 cup almonds

1 cup frozen pitted dark, sweet cherries

1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1 banana

2 tablespoons lecithin granules

1 teaspoon of barley green powder (optional)

1/4 cup chopped dark green kale

1/4 cup peeled chopped carrots

Steeping the hibiscus: (Hibiscus sabdariffa). Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add hibiscus blossoms and allow to steep, covered. When cool and steeped for ten minutes, add the lime juice. Mix and add to the other ingredients. If you have left over hibiscus, it can be used as a tea.

See the culinary art FAQs at the hibiscus.org recipe site for cooking with hibiscus (the edible portion). Don't put the flowers in the cookies, just the hibiscus tea liquid from which you steeped the petals and then strained them out. View more information at this site about Hibiscus sabdariffa.

Blend all ingredients together in a high-power blender such as a Vita-Mix. Set on liquefy or ice crush. If more liquid is needed, add more fruit juice.

Pour into dessert bowls. Cover and place in freezer. When frozen solid enough to taste like sherbet, ice cream, or frozen dessert, serve. You won't really taste the celery or carrots, but the texture is great. What will come through is the cherry, mango, and banana flavor with the slight tartness of the cherry and pomegranate juice and the texture of the almonds and liquefied carrots.

All those vitamins and nutrients will be in that frozen dessert. Ice cream refers to a product that has at least 16 percent butterfat. So the best way to refer to celery frozen dessert is as a nondairy alternative frozen dessert. The almonds in liquid create an ambiance of almond 'milk.'

Vegetable Juice Helps

Currently statistics say almost eight out of 10 people worldwide fall short of the daily recommendation, according to the article, "Vegetable Juice Aided in Dietary Support for Weight Loss and Lower Blood Pressure," published October 21 in Medical News Today. Research presented at the International Symposium on Human Health Effects of Fruits and Vegetables suggests the best approach may be to focus on the factors that are often behind this vegetable gap: convenience and enjoyment.

According to the World Health Organication (WHO) and (FAO) fruit and vegetable promotion initiative, "Low fruit and vegetable intake was identified as an important risk factor for chronic diseases in the WHO World Health Report 2002. Overall, it is estimated that up to 2.7 million lives could potentially be saved each year if fruit and vegetable consumption was sufficiently increased." Currently, studies around the world continue.

For example, two studies presented at this year's symposium on human health effects of fruits and vegetables found that the addition of vegetable juice in people's diets was a successful strategy to help them reach the vegetable guidelines (at least 4 servings per day).

The goal is to get people to carry vegetable juice with them to work or school when they are not at home. Studies found that "the addition of a portable drink, such as V8® 100% vegetable juice, was more successful than an approach that focused solely on nutrition education, or offering dietary counseling on ways to increase vegetable intake," according to the article, "Vegetable Juice Aided in Dietary Support for Weight Loss and Lower Blood Pressure." Or see: Twitter: Can celery really lower your blood pressure and starve cancer cells?

Also please check out and/or subscribe (free) to any or all of my 8 various nutrition, health, or cultural media columns such as my Sacramento Nutrition Examiner column, Sacramento Healthy Trends Examiner column, Sacramento Holistic Family Health Examiner column, Sacramento Media & Culture Examiner column, and my national columns: National Senior Health Examiner column, National Children's Nutrition Examiner column, National Writing Examiner column, and the National Healthy Trends Examiner column. Check out the slideshow on Examiner.com of 50 of Hart's 91 paperback book covers.

Follow Anne Hart's various Examiner articles on nutrition, health, and culture on this Facebook site and/or this Twitter site. Also see some of Anne Hart's 91 paperback books at: iUniverse. Or see the author's website. Please follow my columns on Pinterest or Pinterest Sacramento Nutrition Examiner.

For more info: browse some my books, How Nutrigenomics Fights Childhood Type 2 Diabetes & Weight Issues (2009). Or see my books, How to Safely Tailor Your Foods, Medicines, & Cosmetics to Your Genes (2003) or How to Open DNA-driven Genealogy Reporting & Interpreting Businesses. (2007).

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