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Literally meaning ‘goat’s delight’, Ajmoda, or celery, is a delicious shrub

Celery seeds

Apium graveolens Umbelliferae

As with all members of the Umbelliferae family with their ascendant flower and seed heads, celery is a digestive ‘lightener’. Its pungency and aromatic nature activate the digestive process and make light work of heavy food.

Sustainability Status

Sustainability status

Not currently on risk lists but complete data may be missing on the status of the species. Read more about our sustainability guide.

Key benefits
  • Digestive remedy
  • How does it feel?

    Celery seed has a pungent, aromatic taste profile much like other spices. As a digestive tonic, celery seeds soothe and settles throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

  • What can I use it for?

    Celery seeds contain a pungent volatile oil known as apiol which is a phenolic ether. Apiol is an effective urinary antiseptic and diuretic. It is valuable in the treatment of any urinary or kidney based infections and will target the root cause of the infection in addition to encouraging diuresis and expulsion of any congested toxicity through the urine. Apiole is also effective in treating muscular spasms, such as those associated with menstrual cramping and pain common in musculoskeletal conditions.

  • Into the heart of celery seeds

    Celery seeds are classically used throughout western and eastern medical traditions as an effective diuretic. Ajmoda encourages diuresis and helps to relieve excess inflammation and water retention commonly associated with musculoskeletal conditions.

    Due to the antispasmodic and antimicrobial properties of the pungent volatile oil, apiole, it is also effective for muscular cramping and pain that may be associated with an infection.

    The combination of antimicrobial and diuretic properties makes ajmoda excellent at encouraging the body to expel congested toxins and wastes, making it an effective whole body cleanser.

    The pungency of apiole also encourages dilation of the blood vessels and the bronchioles in the respiratory system, having a positive long-term effect on chronic conditions of the lungs.

    Ajmoda is indicated in asthma, bronchitis, cough and sinus congestion. It actively helps to dilate the bronchioles by preventing spasm in the airways and encourage the removal of congested mucous.

    Ajmoda is indicated in flatulence, borborygmus and intestinal cramps as apiole will stimulate the digestive metabolism and encourages the natural movement of digestion downwards.

    Ajmoda will help relieve spasms, cramps and muscular tension. It directly regulates the tension versus relaxation balance in the smooth muscles and can benefit heart pain caused by nervous constriction. As an anti-spasmodic with an affinity for the lower abdomen it can also help ease the pain of dysmenorrhoea and menstrual cramps.

    Ajmoda seed is a specific herb for treating kidney and bladder discomfort from cold; frequent, pale urine with lower back ache and nocturia. The vegetable ‘stalk’ heals the urinary system afflicted with problems from heat, such as urinary irritation, cystitis, pain and frequent, dark urination with burning.

  • Traditional actions

  • Traditional energetic actions

    Herbal energetics are the descriptions Herbalists have given to plants, mushrooms, lichens, foods, and some minerals based on the direct experience of how they taste, feel, and work in the body. All traditional health systems use these principles to explain how the environment we live in and absorb, impacts our health. Find out more about traditional energetic actions in our article “An introduction to herbal energetics“.

  • Did you know?

    Celery grows in dry soil; according to the ‘doctrine of signatures’ this indicates its ability to oppose moisture and absorb damp and mucus-based conditions.

Additional information

  • Botanical description

    Celery originated from the Mediterranean but is now cultivated across the world, primarily as a food crop. The plants have distinctive creamy white and green umbels of flowers and its leaves form tall upright rosettes that can reach up to 1m in height. The celery stalks are characteristically succulent and rigid; it is this part of the plant that is used for culinary purposes. It is the celery seeds that are collected for use as a medicinal herb.

  • Common names

    • Celery
    • Ajmoda
    • Krafis
    • Sellerie (Ger.)
    • Apio (Sp.)
    • Han-ch’in (Chi.)
  • Safety

    No Concentrated celery seeds are not recommended for pregnant women due to its uterine stimulating properties. Celery seed should be avoided if there is a history of kidney issues. It can also potentially interact with thyroid medications, diuretics, blood thinning medications, sedatives, and lithium as drug excretion can be enhanced by celery’s diuretic properties making medications less effective.

  • Dosage

    250mg–5g/day or 3–15ml of a 1:3 at 60% tincture

  • Habitat

    Celery seed is native to temperate Mediterranean climates in Europe, Asia and Africa. It grows in ditches, by rivers and in other damp locations, especially near the sea in salt marshes.

  • Sustainability

    According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, celery seed is classed as ‘Least Concern’ as it is widespread with stable populations and does not face any major threats.

    Habitat loss and over harvesting from the wild are two of the biggest threats faced by medicinal plant species. There are an increasing number of well known herbal medicines at risk of extinction. We must therefore ensure that we source our medicines with sustainability in mind.

    The herb supplement industry is growing at a rapid rate and until recent years a vast majority of medicinal plant produce in global trade was of unknown origin. There are some very real and urgent issues surrounding sustainability in the herb industry. These include environmental factors that affect the medicinal viability of herbs, the safety of the habitats that they are taken from, as well as the welfare of workers in the trade.

    The botanical supply chain efforts for improved visibility (transparency and traceability) into verifiably sustainable production sites around the world is now certificated through the emergence of credible international voluntary sustainability standards (VSS). Read our article on sustainable sourcing of herbs to learn more about what to look for and questions to ask suppliers about sustainability.

  • Quality control

    Herbal Medicines are often extremely safe to take, however it is important to buy herbal medicines from a reputed supplier. Sometimes herbs bought from unreputable sources are contaminated, adulterated or substituted with incorrect plant matter.

    Some important markers for quality to look for would be to look for certified organic labelling, ensuring that the correct scientific/botanical name is used and that suppliers can provide information about the source of ingredients used in the product.

    A supplier should be able to tell you where the herbs have come from. There is more space for contamination and adulteration when the supply chain is unknown. 

  • How to grow

    Sow between mid-March and early April in seed trays with small individual cells. The resulting seedlings can be transplanted with minimal root disturbance. Cover the seeds with the most minimal amount of vermiculite or soil possible.

    Transplant the young seedlings when large enough to handle, which might not be until several true leaves appear (true leaves are the leaves that grow after the cotyledons which are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed). Small 3 inch pots or modules are best for this.

    Low temperatures after germination can cause bolting. So, it is best to keep the temperature above 10 degrees in these early stages.

    Ensure the plants are well hardened off before planting out at the end of May to early June.

    Dig a trench around 38-50cm wide and 30 cm deep in October/November or March, incorporating plenty of well-rotted organic matter. Plant the seedlings along the line of the trench. 

    Once stems are 30cm tall, the plants can be then earthed up around the base of the stem. Mound up the soil approximately 3 inches at a time until the top is exposed.

    Water regularly before the onset of dry weather – plants should never be allowed to dry out. Feed fortnightly with a balanced liquid general fertiliser during the summer.

    Celery is ready to harvest between August and October once it reaches the desired size, and before the first hard frost.

    Most types of celery will be damaged by frost, but varieties of trench celery (which are grown in trenches and earthed up) might last into winter, as late as December.

  • Recipe

    Digestive detox tea

    This detoxifying blend of tasty seeds and roots will help to regulate digestion, banish sluggishness and cleanse the blood.


    • Aniseed 4g
    • Fennel seed 4g
    • Cardamom pod 3g
    • Dandelion root 2g
    • Licorice root 1g
    • Celery seed 1g
    • Lemon a twist per cup

    This will serve 2 cups detoxifying tea with a citrus twist.


    • Put all of the ingredients in a pot (except for the lemon juice).
    • Add 500ml/18fl oz freshly boiled filtered water.
    • Leave to steep for 10–15 minutes, then strain.
    • Enjoy with a twist of lemon in each cup.

    Joint protector tea

    It’s almost an inevitable human condition that we will suffer from some sort of joint pain as we get older. All that wear-and-tear through our life can catch up with us but we have a herbal tea recipe that will help keep the red-hot inflammation of arthritis and gout at bay.


    • Turmeric root powder 3g
    • Boswellia resin 2g
    • Ginger root powder 2g
    • Celery seed 2g
    • Ashwagandha root 1g
    • Licorice root 1g
    • Meadowsweet leaf 1g
    • Honey to taste

    This will serve 2–3 cups of ache-free tea.


    • Put all of the ingredients (except for the meadowsweet leaf and honey) in a saucepan with 600ml (21fl oz) cold filtered water. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes.
    • Take off the heat and add the meadowsweet leaf.
    • Leave to steep for 10 minutes, strain and add some honey to taste.

    Recipes from Cleanse, Nurture, Restore by Sebastian Pole

An ‘aromatic’ remedy, high in volatile essential oils, was most often associated with calming and sometimes ‘warming’ the digestion. Most kitchen spices and herbs have this quality: they were used both as flavouring and to ease the digestion of sometimes challenging pre-industrial foods. Many aromatics are classed as ‘carminatives’ and are used to reduce colic, bloating and agitated digestion. They also often feature in respiratory remedies for colds, chest and other airway infections. They are also classic calming inhalants and massage oils, and are the basis of aromatherapy for their mental benefits.
Astringent taste
The puckering taste you get with many plants (the most familiar is black tea after being stewed too long, or some red wines) is produced by complex polyphenols such as tannins. Tannins are used in concentrated form (eg from oak bark) to make leather from animal skins. The process of ‘tanning’ involves the coagulation of relatively fluid proteins in living tissues into tight clotted fibres (similar to the process of boiling an egg). Tannins in effect turn exposed surfaces on the body into leather. In the case of the lining of mouth and upper digestive tract this is only temporary as new mucosa are replenished, but in the meantime can calm inflamed or irritated surfaces. In the case of open wounds tannins can be a life-saver – when strong (as in the bark of broadleaved trees) they can seal a damaged surface. One group of tannins, the reddish-brown ‘condensed tannins’ are procyanidins, which can reduce inflammation and oxidative damage.
Bitters are a very complex group of phytochemicals that stimulate the bitter receptors in the mouth. They were some of the most valuable remedies in ancient medicine. They were experienced as stimulating appetite and switching on a wide range of key digestive functions, including increasing bile clearance from the liver (as bile is a key factor in bowel health this can be translated into improving bowel functions and the microbiome). Many of these reputations are being supported by new research on the role of bitter receptors in the mouth and elsewhere round the body. Bitters were also seen as ‘cooling’ reducing the intensity of some fevers and inflammatory diseases.
Blue-purple colouring
Any fruits with a blue-purple colouring contain high levels of the polyphenols known as anthocyanins. These work 1) on the walls of small blood vessels, helping to maintain capillary structure to reduce a key stage in inflammation, and improving the microcirculation to the tissues; 2) to improve retinal function and vision; 3) to support connective tissue repair around the body.
Traditional ‘cold’ or cooling’ remedies often contain bitter phytonutrients such a iridoids (gentian), sesiquterpenes (chamomile), anthraquinones (rhubarb root), mucilages (marshmallow), some alkaloids and flavonoids. They tend to influence the digestive system, liver and kidneys. Cooling herbs do just that; they diffuse, drain and clear heat from areas of inflammation, redness and irritation. Sweet, bitter and astringent herbs tend to be cooling.
Traditional ‘hot’ or ‘heating’ remedies, often containing spice ingredients like capsaicin, the gingerols (ginger), piperine (black or long pepper), curcumin (turmeric) or the sulfurous isothiocyanates from mustard, horseradich or wasabi, generate warmth when taken. In modern times this might translate as thermogenic and circulatory stimulant effects. There is evidence of improved tissue blood flow with such remedies: this would lead to a reduction in build-up of metabolites and tissue damage. Heating remedies were used to counter the impact of cold, reducing any symptoms made worse in the cold. .
Mucilages are complex carbohydrate based plant constituents with a slimy or ‘unctuous’ feel especially when chewed or macerated in water. Their effect is due simply to their physical coating exposed surfaces. From prehistory they were most often used as wound remedies for their soothing and healing effects on damaged tissues. Nowadays they are used more for these effects on the digestive lining, from the throat to the stomach, where they can relieve irritation and inflammation such as pharyngitis and gastritis. Some of the prominent mucilaginous remedies like slippery elm, aloe vera and the seaweeds can be used as physical buffers to reduce the harm and pain caused by reflux of excess stomach acid. Mucilages are also widely used to reduce dry coughing. Here the effect seems to be by reflex through embryonic nerve connections: reduced signals from the upper digestive wall appear to translate as reduced activity of airway muscles and increased activity of airway mucus cells. Some seed mucilages, such as in psyllium seed, flaxseed (linseed) or guar bean survive digestion to provide bulking laxative effects in the bowel. These can also reduce rate of absorption of sugar and cholesterol. .
New-mown hay aroma
The familiar country odour of haymaking, of drying grass and other plants, is largely produced by coumarins (originally isolated from tonka beans – in French coumarou) and widely used in perfumery. They are chemically categorised as benzopyrone lactones and are important phytochemicals, with strong antioxidant activity in the laboratory and likely effects in modulating inflammation. They were most often associated with the calming effect linked to their use in stuffing mattresses and pillows and plants, high In coumarins were commonly used for these properties.
Resins are most familiar as tacky discharges from pine trees (and as the substance in amber, and rosin for violin bows). They were most valued however as the basis of ancient commodities like frankincense and myrrh (two of the three gifts of the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus) and getting access to their source was one benefit to Solomon for marrying the Queen of Sheba (now Ethiopia). Resins were the original antiseptic remedies, ground and applied as powders or pastes to wounds or inflamed tissues, and were also used for mummification. With alcohol distillation it was found that they could be dissolved in 90% alcohol and in this form they remain a most powerful mouthwash and gargle, for infected sore throats and gum disease. They never attracted much early research interest because they permanently coat expensive glassware! For use in the mouth, gums and throat hey are best combined with concentrated licorice extracts to keep the resins in suspension and add extra soothing properties. It appears that they work both as local antiseptics and by stimulating white blood cell activity under the mucosal surface. They feel extremely effective!
The salty flavour is immediately distinctive. A grain dropped onto the tongue is instantly moistening and a sprinkle on food enkindles digestion. This easily recognisable flavour has its receptors right at the front of the tongue. The salty flavor creates moisture and heat, a sinking and heavy effect which is very grounding for the nervous system and encourages stability. People who are solid and reliable become known as ‘the salt of the earth'.
The sharp taste of some fruits, and almost all unripe fruits, as well as vinegar and fermented foods, is produced by weak acids (the taste is generated by H+ ions from acids stimulating the sour taste buds). Sour taste buds are hard-wired to generate immediate reflex responses elsewhere in the body. Anyone who likes the refreshing taste of lemon or other citrus in the morning will know that one reflex effect is increased saliva production. Other effects are subjective rather than confirmed by research but there is a consistent view that they include increased digestive activity and contraction of the gallbladder.
In the days when most people never tasted sugar, ‘sweetness’ was associated with the taste of basic foods: that of cooked vegetables, cereals and meat. In other words sweet was the quality of nourishment, and ‘tonic’ remedies. Describing a remedy as sweet generally led to that remedy being used in convalescence or recovery from illness. Interestingly, the plant constituents most often found in classic tonics like licorice, ginseng are plant steroids including saponins, which also have a sweet taste.

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