I can’t remember exactly how I discovered the celery juice craze in the first place. I think I’d fallen down a scroll-hole on Instagram when I was feeling bleugh about my health after too much festive indulgence – which for me, like many Australians, begins around Melbourne Cup time and carries on well into the New Year. You know how it happens – you jump from hashtag to hashtag, looking for the one that promises to cure everything.
Eventually I stumbled onto the page of The Medical Medium, aka Anthony William, a New York Times bestselling author and so-called “Originator of The Global Celery Juice Movement”. His gospel can largely be distilled into a single action – start every day by drinking 16 ounces – or about 470ml – of pure celery juice on an empty stomach and wait 15-30 minutes before eating or drinking anything else.
His page, which boasts 1.2 million followers, was filled with pictures of people clutching hefty armfuls of whole celery, or sipping the fluorescent juice through colourful paper straws. But there were also impressive before-and-after shots of men, women and children with red, inflamed skin who magically reemerged clear-skinned and bright eyed, just weeks after bringing celery juice into their lives. There were visual stories of dramatic weight loss, reports of reduced anxiety, gut issues, endometriosis and chronic pain. It seemed astonishing that this seemingly unremarkable vegetable, that until now I had thought of as little more than a vehicle for delivering peanut butter into my mouth, could do so much.
I don’t have any particular medical issues beyond some excess kilos, lethargy and a tendency to break out with pimples around my chin but they are all things I could happily do without. Most of all I just wanted to feel less like I’d eaten 18 whole Christmas dinners in one sitting. I decided to give it a try.
I made my partner give our juicer away months ago because it took up too much room in the kitchen (“Who even juices any more?” I said with short-sighted certainty) so I get my first celery juice from my local cafe. “What else would you like with it – a bit of apple? Some lemon?” Nope. Just celery juice please. He looks at me weirdly. I look at myself weirdly. This is going to be gross.
And it is. My first sip of this bright green liquid is the taste equivalent of fingernails down a blackboard. Bland and numbing, with a teeth-throbbing hum of aniseed in the background. God I hate aniseed. But I force it down.
Back home after my walk, I need to go to the toilet. Like, NOW. Perhaps celery juice is little more than a glorified laxative, I think, unimpressed.
By day 2, I’m getting more used to the taste and I’m starting to see the laxative and diuretic effects as positive. In with the bad, out with the bad, I reason.
And then on Day 3 – Day 3! – the weirdest thing happens. I wake up and my skin is perfect, especially around my chin and jawline where it’s usually the most problematic. Like, perfect. I almost always have a thin layer of what facialists call “congestion” just under my skin – a sort of rough bumpiness that never really goes away. Until now. It’s GONE. I touch my face repeatedly for the next few days. It’s soft and clear, even when I’ve drunk a bottle of wine the night before, which is usually skin kryptonite for me. This is actually kind of eerie.
My skin is still flawless. Celery is loaded with pretty much every vitamin and mineral you can think of including Vitamin A, magnesium and iron, plus a bunch of super-weird things called caffeic acid, ferulic acid, apigenin, luteolin, tannin, saponin, and kaempferol. It also has a bunch of lesser-known compounds called coumarins which help to fight free-radicals and enhance the activity of white blood cells, and its high levels of potassium and sodium act as powerful hydrators. I don’t know exactly which of these magic molecules are responsible for the clear skin but who cares?
I’m also getting more used to juicing being a normal part of my routine. My local cafes, however, aren’t. Celery is out of season in summer, costing anywhere up to $6 for a bunch. And you need a whole bunch for a single 400mg-500mg juice. My new passion eats considerably into their profit margins and many of them simply don’t have enough celery on hand. Two refuse to serve it to me entirely. A third tells me, a note of weariness in her voice, that she’s getting a lot of requests for pure celery juice at the moment. The Medical Medium’s tendrils are far-reaching.
My long-suffering partner manages to get his hands on a juicer (“Can we not throw it out this time?” he asks testily) and I start juicing at home. Overall my energy levels feel good, and I love that I start each morning clearing out my system. The Medical Medium claims that drinking celery juice helps to rebuild hydrochloric acid (!) in your gut which in turn breaks down old protein, toxins and pathogens, which is what I’m supposedly flushing away each morning. I begin thinking of my daily acid-green juice as a sort of internal paint stripping.
I’ve stopped craving coffee. It just happened, with zero effort on my part. Perhaps it’s because I now start each day with a different drink and the ritual of morning coffee doesn’t seem necessary. Or maybe it’s because my energy levels feel perfectly perky without it all of a sudden. I stop drinking it altogether for a few days and barely miss it but then the caffeine headaches hit so I go back to a cup a day. I’m sure with a bit more willpower I could drop it completely.
Hangovers also vanish, and believe me, over Christmas I give them plenty of opportunities to hit me. Again, this is singularly odd.
My friend Natalie reports that she is also drinking celery juice every morning and the symptoms of her Hashimoto’s disease are easing. Other people on the Medical Medium Instagram page with inflammatory diseases report similar results. I have auto-immune disease in my family but no obvious symptoms, but anything that could go towards holding it at bay can only be a good thing.
The one thing I hoped my old pal celery juice would magically help with is weight loss, and it hasn’t. There are two very good reasons for this – one, the Medical Medium also suggests you follow a fresh, vegetable-heavy diet alongside the daily juicing which sounds like a lot of hard work to me. And second, I have been doing this experiment over Christmas and New Year – with all the corresponding eating and, especially, drinking. Celery may be a superfood but it’s still just a vegetable. It can’t perform actual miracles.
I’m hooked. I really am. Even if I get zero measurable benefits beyond clear skin, it’s worth it. But I’m very much looking forward to a celery price drop in winter.
Celery juice: The lowdown
How do I jump on the celery juice bandwagon?
According to the godfather of celery juice, Anthony William, you simply drink 470ml of pure celery juice every morning and wait 15-30 minutes before eating or drinking anything else. For more detailed info head to The Medial Medium website.
Who’s into it?
Celebrity fans include Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow and Pharrell. In early January, Debra Messing gushed about celery juicing on Instagram, insisting that a daily dose of the green stuff has made her feel “so much better”.
Is it really as amazing as everyone says?
Having tried it, I’d say yes. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever done that’s made such an impact on my skin so quickly. That said, nutritionists caution against any one food being held up as a miracle cure for anything, particularly serious conditions like cancer. But it certainly can’t hurt your health, even if all you’re getting is a good – if expensive – dose of hydration.