Each stalk of celery, along with its seeds and leaves, contains 3-n-butylphthalide, which has shown to enhance cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease.
Incorporating celery into your daily diet can provide numerous health benefits, from treating gout to safeguarding against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Celery (and artichokes and oregano) also contains the flavinoids apigenin and luteolin that kill human pancreatic cancer cells in the lab by inhibiting an important enzyme, according to two new University of Illinois studies.
Pancreatic cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer. According to the Malaysian Cancer Registry’s latest report in 2006, there was a total of 253 cases of pancreatic cancer diagnosed in that year. This is in comparison to the total of 21,773 cancer cases. Pancreatic cancer is usually detected late and has a high mortality rate.
The scientists found that apigenin inhibited an enzyme called glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β), which led to a decrease in the production of anti-apoptotic genes in the pancreatic cancer cells. Apoptosis means that the cancer cell self-destructs because its DNA has been damaged.
“But we received the best results when we pre-treated cancer cells with apigenin for 24 hours, then applied the chemotherapeutic drug gemcitabine for 36 hours," said Elvira de Mejia, a U of I professor of food chemistry and food toxicology.
"That happens because flavonoids can act as antioxidants. One of the ways that chemotherapeutic drugs kill cells is based on their pro-oxidant activity, meaning that flavonoids and chemotherapeutic drugs may compete with each other when they're introduced at the same time," she explained.
The topic is still controversial.
Prevention of this frightening disease is another story. "If you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables throughout your life, you'll have chronic exposure to these bioactive flavonoids, apigenin and luteolin, which would certainly help to reduce the risk of cancer," Dr de Majia noted.
The above story is based on the August 15, 2013 news release by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the following references.
Johnson JL, de Mejia EG. Interactions between dietary flavonoids apigenin or luteolin and chemotherapeutic drugs to potentiate anti-proliferative effect on human pancreatic cancer cells, in vitro. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2013; 60: 83 DOI: 10.1016/j.fct.2013.07.036
Johnson JL, de Mejia EG. Flavonoid apigenin modified gene expression associated with inflammation and cancer and induced apoptosis in human pancreatic cancer cells through inhibition of GSK-3β/NF-κB signaling cascade. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/mnfr.201300307
Tan Shiow Chin. Pancreatic cancer: A silent killer. The StarOnline, November 6, 2011
WebMD lists these Special Precautions & Warnings on celery oil and celery seeds:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Celery oil and celery seeds are LIKELY UNSAFE when used during pregnancy. Large amounts of celery might make the uterus contract and cause a miscarriage. The safety of using celery while breast-feeding is unknown. It’s best to avoid celery in medicinal amounts if you are pregnant or nursing.
Allergies: Celery can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to certain other plants and spices including wild carrot, mugwort, birch, and dandelion. This has been called the “celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome.”
Kidney problems: Don’t use celery in medicinal amounts if you have kidney problems. Celery might cause inflammation.
Surgery: Celery can affect the central nervous system. There is some concern that celery, in combination with anesthesia and other medications used during and after surgery might slow down the central nervous system too much. Stop using celery at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.