High Blood Pressure? Eat More Celery
By Emma Suttie, D.Ac.
Foods are an integral part of health and medicine in Chinese culture. Nutritional therapy is a vital part of the Chinese medical model, and each food is seen to have a temperature, specific organs that
it affects and healing properties making the art of food therapy an important aspect of Chinese medicine.
One of the many wonderful things about Chinese medicine is the use of ordinary things that we use in our everyday lives to combat health problems when they arise. Food or nutrition therapy is an integral
part of Chinese medicine, and eating with the seasons and with foods wide array of healing properties in
mind can build the immune system to keep us healthy, and also help to rebalance us when we are sick.
Celery is considered sweet, bitter and is cooling in nature. It is particularly beneficial to the spleen,
stomach and liver. Celery is used to treat many conditions, but in particular, it has been used for
centuries to effectively lower high blood pressure.
Blood pressure, or hypertension, is the measurement of the pressure exerted against the arteries as the blood
leaves the heart. Fluctuations in blood pressure are normal, but it is when the blood pressure remains
high that is can be dangerous to our health and increase the risk of problems like heart attack and
stroke. One of the main concerns is that high blood pressure is often referred to as a silent killer
because there are often no symptoms until the damage has already been done and it is too late, so
anything we can do preventatively to keep our blood pressure at healthy levels is always a good idea!
Blood pressure is measured by two different numbers – the systolic and diastolic pressure. The first, the systolic,
is the measurement of the pressure of the blood leaving the heart as it pumps. The second number – the
diastolic, is a measurement of the pressure of the blood when the heart is at rest. A normal blood
pressure reading is approximately 120/80.
Celery, a common vegetable and available at almost every grocery store is one of the best foods for lowering high blood pressure. Celery contains active compounds called phthalides (butylphthalide). These compounds naturally function to relax the muscles
in and around the walls of the arteries, causing the vessels to dilate, thus creating more room for the
blood to flow and lowering the pressure. Phthalides also are shown to reduce the levels of stress
hormones (called catecholamines) in the blood. These stress hormones also raise blood pressure because
they cause vessels to constrict. Celery has the added benefit of benefiting and soothing the nervous
system and many patients with nervous system disorders in TCM are encouraged to add celery
to their diets.
In a recent study by the University of Chicago Medical Centre, the father of a medical student who was diagnosed with hypertension decided to try the Chinese medicine remedy of eating celery to see if he could lower his blood pressure without medication. He ate 4 stalks a day for a week, and then taking 3 weeks off before resuming the regimen. Within a week his blood pressure fell from 158/96 to 118/82. The man and his son brought the findings to researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center w
here they isolated the compound (3-n-butyl phthalide) and injected it into rats to see if they could
reproduce the results. 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 common wisdom is that 4 stalks of celery a day can significantly lower blood pressure in less than a week.
It is important to note however, that having a healthy diet and trying to restrict the amount of
processed salt that we eat will hopefully keep high blood pressure from getting out of control, but the
addition of celery into our diets is an excellent preventative strategy that we can all use to keep our
blood pressure at healthy levels.
About the Author:
Emma’s love for Chinese Medicine began as a teenager when, like many
people, western medicine failed to solve the underlying health issues she
faced. Her doctors proposed only surgery or a lifetime of drugs. However,
after a few months of acupuncture treatments and herbs those problems were
resolved. From that moment forward she was committed to extending this gift
of health to others.
Emma received a Diploma of Acupuncture from the Institute of Traditional
Medicine in Toronto in 2006. Immediately after graduating, she started her
first job treating postal workers and seeing up to 20 patients a day! Over
the next several years she worked at 5 other multidisciplinary clinics
throughout Toronto developing her skills and technique while working
collaboratively with other health professionals, including medical doctors,
to restore health to her patients holistically.
Today she specializes in gynecology, pediatrics and treating emotional
issues and mood disorders through her own practice,
Ukiah Clinic. She also shares her experience and
enthusiasm on her new website,
Chinese Medicine Living
that explores ancient Chinese
wisdom for better living in the modern world.