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Apium graveolens


Apium graveolens


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Smallage, Celery, Celery Seed, Quincai


Apium graveolens, or celery is a flowering biennial from the family Umbelliferae.  A. graveolens is most easily identified by its thick, very erect stem, as it has been used as nutrition around the world.  The stem itself is thick, fleshy, and separated into a rosette of stalks which come together at the taproot.  At its maximum height of 1m, the stalks take on a more definitive, individual, crescent shape.  The leaves of A. graveolens are either pinnate or bi-pinnate, either green or dark-green in colour, and with petioles roughly 40cm in length.  The deeply lobed leaves are similar in shape to that of parsley, and have both a strong savory scent and taste.  The small white flowers bloom in late summer in umbels roughly 5cm across.  The umbels are tightly packed, and have a high concentration of the flowers.  The seeds of A. graveolens are tiny, brown and ribbed.  One thousand of these seeds weigh no more than 0.5g.

Origin / Habitat

Apium graveolens is classified as a member of the Apiaceae family.(1) It is a biennial herb that has been used consistently throughout history in medicinal preparations, food flavoring and preparation, and is known in the vernacular as A. graveolens.  The seeds are typically cultivated in order to form an extract, to make a tea or to mix with salt for use as a flavoring agent; the plant itself (root, foliage and stem) is ingested as part of a normal diet in preparations such as salads, soups, etc.  A. graveolens seed has a worldwide distribution of growth, including most of the United States, many countries within the Europe, Asia, Africa and parts of India.(2) Epidemiological evidence supports a relationship between ingestion of A. graveolens and a myriad of beneficial health effects, ranging from cardioprotective to anticancer properties.(3)

Chemical Constituents

Flavonoids (luteolin, apigenin), Phthalides (sedanolide, 3-n-butyl phthalide), Furanocoumarins (bergapten, xanthotoxin), Terpenes (d-limonene). (4),(5),(6),(7),(8)

Plant Part Used

Seed-like fruits (10)

Traditional Use

A. graveolens was used in urinary conditions such as incontinence.  In Native American medicine it is thought to be a carmative, nerve sedative, tonic, and diuretic.(9) The Mahuna tribe ingested an infusion to treat chronic kidney disease while a smallage-whiskey concoction was drunk to alleviate symptoms of tuberculosis by the Houma tribe.(10)


Other uses included cooking, the seed was used to add spice to dishes.(10)


The dosages vary too greatly by region, tribe, preparation and application to allow for a common dosage to be determined.



Extracts of A. graveolens have been investigated for their hepatoprotective, antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and antihyperlipidemic properties. The studies show that A. graveolens extracts can exhibit a degree of protection against established hepatotoxins, including carbon tetrachloride, acetaminophen (paracetamol), and thioacetamide.(11),(12)

Antihyperlipidemia activity

The lipid-lowering effects of Apium graveolens extract have been supported by animal studies where rats were fed a diet known to induce hyperlipidemia in conjunction with administration of A. graveolens extract.  When compared to control animals receiving only the high-fat diet, the experiment group showed reduced total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides.(13)

Neurodegenerative activity

A. graveolens and its flavonoid constituents have been investigated as neuroprotective agents against neurodegenerative pathologies that result from inflammatory etiologies. Extracts of A. graveolens leaves and roots have been shown by both in vitro and in vivo experiments to protect against oxidative stress and these antioxidant effects may be a result of the flavonoid content within A. graveolens.(14) Luteolin and additional flavonoids have been shown to reduce the release of reactive oxygen species and to increase expression of enzymes (i.e. superoxide dismutase) that protect against oxidative damage thereby displaying antioxidant properties.(15) In addition, the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin exhibit high biological activity and pronounced anti-inflammatory effects.(16)

Larvicidal activity

A. graveolens seeds have been shown to possess concentration-dependent mosquitocidal (Aedes aegypti), nematicidal and antifungal activity.(6),(17) Recent research investigated the crude seed extract of A. graveolens in order to define parameters of protection against Aedes aegypti.(18) The resultant bioassays indicated that the crude seed extract was larvicidal, slightly adulticidal and possessed repellent properties for 2.5-3 hours post-topical application of the extract.


No documentation

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

A. graveolens should be used in caution with patients taking serotonin-altering agents as A. graveolens seeds have been shown to contain L-tryptophan, the precursor essential for synthesis of serotonin.(6)

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

The allergic reactions to Apium graveolens have been well documented in literature.  The symptoms associated this allergy may range in severity; from urticaria and angioedema to symptoms such as anaphylaxis.

  A. graveolens supplements have been shown to have an irritating effect on the kidney and metabolism appears to be reduced in elderly patients.(2) Patients who have a history of liver or kidney problems should not use A. graveolens unless directed to do so by their medical practitioner.  Ingestion of A. graveolens even at normal doses may inhibit Cytochrome extract drug metabolism; thus, altered pharmacokinetic parameters would be expected to manifest in patients.(19),(20)


Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding or plan to become pregnant should not use A. graveolens due to the potential for uterine stimulation and abortifacient effects.

Age limitation

No documentation

Adverse reaction

No documentation

Read More

  1) Botanical Info

  2) Safety

  3) Essential Oil

  4) Western Herb


  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Natural Resources Conservation Service. The PLANTS Database. Available from,.  [Accessed on 2 April 2009].
  2. Gruenwald, J.. (ed).  PDR for Herbal Medicines.  2nd Edition. Montvale, New Jersey: Medical Economics Company;2000.172-174.
  3. Guerrero JA. Flavonoids inhibit platelet function through binding to the thromboxane A2 receptor. J Thromb Haemost. Feb2005;3(2):369-376.
  4. López-Lázaro M. Distribution and biological activities of the flavonoid luteolin. Mini Rev Med Chem. Jan2009;9(1):31-59.
  5. Zheng GQ. Chemoprevention of benzo[a]pyrene-induced forestomach cancer in mice by natural phthalides from celery seed oil. Nutr Cancer. 1993;19(1):77-86.
  6. Momin RA. Antioxidant, cyclooxygenase and topoisomerase inhibitory compounds from Apium graveolens Linn. seeds. Phytomedicine. May2002;9(4):312-318.
  7. Beier RC. Natural pesticides and bioactive components in foods. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol. 1990;113:47-137.
  8. Lombaert GA. Furanocoumarins in celery and parsnips: method and multiyear Canadian survey. J AOAC Int. Jul-Aug2001;84(4):1135-1143.
  9. Hutchens AR. Indian Herbalogy of North America. Boston, MA:Shambhala;1991..74.
  10. Moerman DA. Native American Ethnobotany. Timber Press: Portland, OR;1998..75-76.
  11. Ahmed B. Hepatoprotective activity of two plants belonging to the Apiaceae and the Euphorbiaceae family.  J Ethnopharmacol. Mar2002;79(3):313-316.
  12. Singh A. Hepatoprotective activity of Apium graveolens and Hygrophila auriculata against paracetamol and thioacetamide intoxication in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 15Dec1995;49(3):119-126.
  13. Tsi D. Effects of aqueous celery (Apium graveolens) extract on lipid parameters of rats fed a high fat diet. Planta Med. Feb1995;61(1):18-21.
  14. Popović M. Effect of celery (Apium graveolens) extracts on some biochemical parameters of oxidative stress in mice treated with carbon tetrachloride. Phytother Res. Jul2006;20(7):531-537.
  15. Sharma V. Modulation of interleukin-1beta mediated inflammatory response in human astrocytes by flavonoids: implications in neuroprotection. Brain Res Bull. 15Jun2007;73(1-3):55-63.
  16. Benavente-García O. Update on uses and properties of citrus flavonoids: new findings in anticancer, cardiovascular, and anti-inflammatory activity.  J Agric Food Chem. 13Aug2008;56(15):6185-6205.
  17. Momin RA. Mosquitocidal, nematicidal, and antifungal compounds from Apium graveolens L. seeds. J Agric Food Chem. Jan2001;49(1):142-145.
  18. Choochote W.  Potential of crude seed extract of celery, Apium graveolens L., against the mosquito Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae). J Vector Ecol. 2004;29:340-346.
  19. Lampe JW. Brassica vegetables increase and apiaceous vegetables decrease cytochrome P450 1A2 activity in humans: changes in caffeine metabolite ratios in response to controlled vegetable diets. Carcinogenesis. Jun2000;21(6):1157-1162.
  20. Jakovljevic V. The effect of celery and parsley juices on pharmacodynamic activity of drugs involving cytochrome P450 in their metabolism. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. Jul-Sep2002;27(3):153-156.

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