So my secret is out since my interview with Madeleine Shaw for her podcast! Yes it is true; I am juicing celery! I even had to go out and buy another juicer since, over the years, I have owned no fewer than 3 juicers.
My Starting Point
Historically my stance has been anti-juicing. I really believe that we are meant to eat and chew our food and that cooked food is better for you than cold raw food. I still think this. When man discovered fire and started cooking his food he moved up the food chain to the top- just by cooking food and spending less time digesting! I have been around a while and I have already tried juicing twice before (hence why this is my third juicer as I gave the other ones away) and both times the juices left me feeling ill, cold and bloated. When I had chemo all my hair fell out even though some nut job claimed it wouldn’t if I juiced my body weight in veg! I think that books and people that make claims like this, however well intended, are highly detrimental to our health and well being. Juicing is no substitute for food; you remove the fibre, get left with the sugars and it’s actually what I would call ‘overly nutritious’ and can damage the digestive system. Plus, in order to get the fibre you just removed from your juice you have then got to eat more food containing fibre.
Chinese Medicine & Cold Energy Food
In Chinese Medicine we categorise food in terms of its temperature and energetic nature: Cold, Hot, Damp, Dry, etc. This does not necessarily just describe the temperature as we understand it (hot or cold), but the impact this has on the body. So for example a banana is said to be very cold in nature and can damage the digestion causing phlegm to accumulate. Picture the little child eating a banana with two streams of snot coming out of each nostril. Bananas, where they grow, in hot climates are probably jolly useful because they cool the body down. In a lunch box in South London on a winter’s day with nothing else but raw celery and carrots sticks, humus and a yoghurt for company – will drive Cold energy into the core and digestion of even the most robust child.
Different People Different Foods
Nearly all-dietary approaches treat everyone as the same, there are very few diet books that advocate different foods for different types. Chinese medicine classifies us as all being different, as does Ayurvedic medicine. Frankly- we ARE all different and this is the ONLY approach to medicine and food that has ever made any sense to me. Unfortunately I do not see that there can be a ‘one-size fits all’ approach here.
How this Works in Clinic
When I assess someone in clinic I am looking to see whether they have too much Heat or too much Cold, or whether they Damp etc. I will then make food recommendations to correct any imbalance. So for example, if I identify that there is too much Heat in the body I will prescribe foods that counter this; alfalfa, apple, celery, kelp, mint, millet etc. On the other hand if I find that there is too much Cold in the body I will prescribe warming foods such as basil, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, chestnuts, chicken etc.
Cold Food in Winter
Each January I put my head in my hands and sigh deeply, as a plethora of Cold based diets bombard us in magazine articles and on social media. Juice fasts in the middle on the shortest, darkest, coldest month is basically self-flagellation as far as I’m concerned. Why in God’s name would you starve yourself of nutrients in the coldest months of the year under the unscientific notion that you are ‘on a detox’! It is completely counter intuitive to eat cold, raw food in the middle of winter and expect to thrive.
So Why Am I Juicing Celery?
“Purely medicinal purposes!” as my mum use to say. At Christmas I had to take medication (pretty intense medicine) that caused a lot of Heat in my body and actually damaged the nerves in my feet. At this point I really felt that while I needed to take this medicine, I also needed a natural solution to off set the side effects. I needed to clear Heat out of my body, and especially my Liver.
The symptoms of excess Heat in the body that I experienced were as follows;
Burning feet with peeling skin
Nerve pain in the feet
Rash behind the knees – red and very itchy
Rash on my shoulders
Heat in the Liver; sensation of movement in my Liver and indigestion
Emotional irritability- also a symptom of too much Heat in the liver
Red tongue and sore mouth
Constipation – too much Heat in the body can dry out the stools.
Celery is very cooling in Chinese Medicine and it’s also good for the nerves. It takes heat of the Liver and it cools the Blood. What’s more, when I was having a session of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and I asked my body what it needed – there is was – green liquid running down my throat! ‘God help me’ I thought ‘it’s the celery juice!’
And then again later when I meditated – Green liquid running down my throat!
I am 3 months in and I drink 16 fluid oz of celery juice on an empty stomach every morning 30 minutes before eating. I have being using acupuncture alongside this to remove Heat from my body and my Liver.
So every morning I start with hot water and lemon which warns the digestive system to off set the heat. I do not add anything like ginger to the celery juice (to add heat) because I need to be warming my digestion up with hot liquid before I drink the cold juice. This way my digestive system is warmed and ready and does not go into shock when a cold ‘overly nutritious’ substance enters it before it has even woken up.
I must stress that I do not use the juice as a meal replacement. I am using it as a form of medicine, and 30 minutes after eating it I have my normal overnight soaked oats cooked with saffron poached pears – because old goats like their creature comforts.
I feel much better, my medication has been reduced and I am now on a much lower dose. My skin has cleared up, the Liver is no longer angry and my bowel moves perfectly every single day. To me the celery juice has been a great success as it has enabled me to stay on this highly toxic medication by balancing my symptoms.
Sometimes we need to take medicine and sometimes that medicine is hard to take and causes other issues in the body. But with the right knowledge of foods, herbs and acupuncture we can bring the body back into balance and alignment. This is my approach to medicine and healing.
Celery: The Cure All?
Is celery a cure all? No. Is it for everyone? No. Are the claims made about it an exaggeration? Probably.
I still think that someone with a Cold, weak digestive function would struggle; they would probably get watery, explosive stools. This is not a sign that you are ‘detoxing’, but rather it might be a sign that the digestion is being damaged. Try reducing the dose and definitely have the hot water and lemon prior to the juice. Celery is actually a great digestive tonic but in some people there will be a fine line. Is celery safe? Yes – I think drinking celery juice is pretty safe, but I would advise caution for those with very low blood pressure as it can lead to dizziness.
Will I be continuing? Yes I will in the short term and for as long as it helps me. All the time I must remain on this Heating, toxic drug I will be working behind the scenes with food, herbs and acupuncture to make sure my body has everything it needs to thrive. We have so many different forms of medicine at our disposal; the trick is to work out what medicine and when and in which combination. This is Modern day alchemy.