Okay, y'all- it's been about 2 months since I started juicing celery, and I'm really happy to report that whether it's the nutritional content, or something miraculously not understood about celery by the scientific community, it has to be more than just a craze... I've tried so many restorative therapies (between nutritional supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies, and alternative treatments- I couldn't even provide a number) over my 10 years of battling chronic illness, and very few of them have made the list as "must keep for regular use." In fact, most times I've found more just as much benefit from avoidance of certain things like wheat and other food and environment triggers as I did from nutritional supplements.
So back to the celery juice. . . I'm shocked to report that it actually has had a dramatic effect on my health (I've also been slowly headed more plant-based with my diet as well, but that's for another post and is a loooooonnng process). I've seen a decrease in a lot of chronic symptoms and have been experiencing some pretty crazy cleansing. Here's a breakdown of the timeline of the major things I experienced (because truthfully, there's too much to re-cap all of it truly) over 8 weeks:
Week 1: I didn't enjoy the taste of celery juice at all, and started with 8 ounces first thing in the morning (give or take). I didn't feel much of anything the first few days. I believe it was around day 4 I noticed a big change in digestion (less bloating) and a change in bathroom habits. I've often struggled with symptoms of gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying, which is common in POTS patients), and noticed that it seemed like my digestion was starting to move along consistently the way it should. On day 5 it was like a switch flipped, and I needed a two day break because I was spending way too much time in the bathroom, and felt like I was struggling with a stomach bug (nausea, upset stomach, etc.) which was more than likely just a cleansing symptom.
Week 2: By the beginning of this week, I actually did enjoy the taste of celery juice. Once some of the negative cleansing symptoms calmed down, I was able to restart and decided to up my intake to around 16 ounces first thing in the morning. By mid-way through the week I was dealing with some of the same cleansing symptoms (which weren't fun), but was starting to see even more positive changes... I noticed my neurological symptoms had decreased (neuropathy, low blood pressure, difficulty swallowing for no apparent reason, being cold all the time, etc.) and I had way more energy. When the cleansing symptoms became a bit too abrasive again, I took another break over the weekend.
Week 3: I slowed down my intake of celery juice by a little bit and really started listening to my body... I was consuming somewhere between 8-12 ounces a day. By this point, I saw some major shifts in symptoms: my body temperature had risen much closer to normal (I check in on it periodically because I run low often... usually between 96.9 and 97.8 F) and now was sitting between 98.2-98.8 F (much more normal, yay)! I remember dealing with some more stomach-bug type symptoms... one that took me out for 24 hours... and because it's cold and flu season, I honestly can't tell you if that one was a cleansing symptom or an actual stomach bug.
Week 4: By this point I was feeling really great. I didn't need to take a break between week 3 and week 4, my energy levels were up, I was waking up earlier on my own, and my digestion felt awesome and consistent. My heart-rate monitor had started showing me days where my POTS flares were becoming minimal, and so I checked in on my blood pressure. Usually, my blood pressure would run somewhere between mid80s/mid50s first thing in the morning (too low), but now it was reading around 100/mid60s (much closer to normal). I then realized, although I hadn't recognized it as it was shifting, my mornings weren't as slow as they used to be, and I was feeling much better when I first stood up in the morning. This was a huge win, as mornings have been incredibly rough in my worst seasons of health. Then mid-week, I started having mast cell flares that were sporadic through the beginning of week 5. Although slightly alarming, as I couldn't identify any DEFINITE triggers for these, I had my first episodes free of any kind of neuropathy (which usually is one of my worst symptoms). A lot of the symptoms of these episodes were different- no huge blood pressure drop, not feeling like I could pass out, my arms weren't falling asleep... instead just some of the usual shaking and tremors with gastrointestinal distress. I also was hot and sweaty instead of cold and shivering- things were really changing here for the better.
Week 5: This week brought my last mast cell episode I've experienced to date, but also a flaming red sore throat (comparable to when I had mononucleosis in high school)... that turned into lots of draining and sinus congestion. At first I thought I had just caught a cold... and so I focused on rest and continuing to juice and eat well. I think it was just because of all the mucous, but many times in this week when I tried to eat, I would get nauseous. We were also planning to leave for Florida at the end of this week, so there was a lot to do. We made it to Florida despite being sick, and my sinuses were incredibly grateful for the warm humid air. I ended up being sick the entire time we were in Florida... I also started to feel exhausted, and was napping almost daily. I felt like I was on a cycle of "sleep, eat, repeat." I'm not joking when I say one day I woke up, ate breakfast, went and took a nap, ate lunch, went and laid on the beach and fell asleep again, and then went inside to shower and eat dinner, and watch a movie, before going to bed around 10. On the bright side, despite all the sleeping and eating, I didn't gain a pound, probably because the majority of my diet was coming from fruits and vegetables.
Week 6: We were home from Florida, my "cold" was still hanging on (and no one I had been in contact with had gotten sick), and I was still feeling great physically as far as digestion and neurologic symptoms go. I was still exhausted and wanting to nap frequently. This made me start to ask some hard questions because last year I had been diagnosed with a IgG subclass deficiency (basically low immune antibodies) and borderline IgG deficiency overall. Did my body finally plummet into a true immune deficiency? Is this why I can't rid this "cold"? But then logically, I challenged those thoughts, because over the previous month I had been eating healthier and exercising more than I've been able to for about 2 years. I started to read about possible reactions the body can go through when it's given a large amount of nutrients in a short period of time... one of which could cause the immune system to ramp up and start attacking latent viruses (which would present similar to the actual illness it originally was). I decided to revert back to old eating habits (more animal products, fats, and grains) to see if I could stop the symptoms I was experiencing... between 36-48 hours all of the cold-like symptoms stopped.
Week 7: Feeling empowered that my body was going through healing, I jumped right back into juicing celery and my plant based diet. All of my symptoms returned with a vengeance within 48 hours... that or I actually did get a cold and bring it home, because 3 weeks into all of this mess, Jacob did get cold symptoms for a few days. Unsure which exactly it was, I left myself continue for the remainder of this week, hoping symptoms would die down soon.
Week 8: I still wasn't feeling well, and after feeling so terrible for 3.5 weeks, needed a break. Although there had been lots of naps, there were many nights with less than ideal sleep... that was draining me both mentally and emotionally. By the middle of this week, I reverted back to a normal diet again, and within a few days my symptoms calmed down again. I let this become a two week break for rest, processing, and creating a game plan to continue (hopefully in a less miserable fashion). Over those two weeks, the majority of my chronic symptoms that had gotten so much better, remained so much better. . . this confirmed for me that I was experiencing some type of healing on some level.
So now, two weeks are up, and this week I have slowly restarted juicing celery, and have headed back toward a plant-based diet (which I still can't believe I'm trying... because, well... I L-O-V-E meat). I'm being more intentional about leaving a bit more fat in my diet to slow the cleansing process down, so that it doesn't get unbearable again. Because I was able to control my "cold" symptoms with my diet, I am fairly confident that I was experiencing symptoms from my immune system ramping up and doing it's job (something similar to this actually happened to me for a 3 week season after starting acupuncture, but didn't create as much lasting change). The other thing that helps me feel peace that this has more than likely been healing, is that some people with compromised immune systems often have issues spiking a fever and run a chronically low temperature (which has been my story)... the fact that my temperature has risen to normal and stayed there is incredibly encouraging and positive. This normal body temperature plays a role in getting pathogens (viruses and/or bacteria) under control in the body, because they can't thrive as well at the body's proper temperature. I'm particularly intrigued with the idea that my body is maybe fighting off latent Epstein-barr virus, because of having mono multiple times in the past (which is uncommon), and the way my symptoms presented during the cleansing/detox.
I'm already starting to feel an increase of activity in my sinuses from restarting the juicing and plant-based diet (but that's okay, mucous is one way the body protects itself when it's removing something that shouldn't be there. Considering I have chronic sinusitis, I believe my body is fighting off whatever has given me that chronic infection and removing it. The unfortunate part is that chronic infections can take quite a while to resolve).
I'm excited to see how all of this goes as I continue juicing and giving up animal products. Although I've been integrated in holistic health for more than 10 years at this point, more than ever before I'm convinced that the body works as a whole: mind, body, and spirit. I learned a few valuable lessons throughout this cleansing process... some were practical: like signs and symptoms of when my body needs lymph or liver support, and how much "down time" to plan on for my body to rest (I had to start viewing naps as "productive time" and not let them shame me for feeling "lazy"). A few other lessons were mental/emotional: I realized I still have some unresolved feelings and experienced the re-surfacing of some repressed memories from past seasons in my life (we're talking adolescent years when I first became ill) that I need to continue to process (and continue to hand over to Jesus). Lastly, some were even spiritual: a new appreciation and understanding of God's handiwork in plants. I don't think I've ever been so thankful for how God has provided us with the nutrients our bodies need in such a simple way. I've become more convicted that in our culture's search of convenience, we've actually overcomplicated something designed for us so simply. Admittedly, this has felt like a very strange journey, one I would usually be far too self-conscious to share... but in many ways, I experienced God leading me toward these lifestyle changes, and needed to lay down my pride, a little bit of my logic, and a lot of my worry about what other people would think to allow myself to try a new approach. Turns out it was worth it.
&& as far as celery is concerned... I think it's a pretty powerful herb.
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This week I decided to try something new. . . every morning, I've been juicing an entire bunch of celery (about 16 oz) and drinking it before eating anything else for the day (I use this juicer). Only 5 days in, I'm beyond intrigued, and borderline hooked. For one, it's definitely ramped up my digestive track (I'll spare you the details, ha!). . . but unlike any other cleanse, detox, or juicing trend I've tried, so far the negative symptoms have been mild- which is a huge win.
I had heard of drinking celery juice for it's health benefits long before I actually jumped in and tried it myself. In fact, it took multiple people prompting me to read a strange book before I decided to take a leap of faith and just try it. . . it's vegetable juice (actually it's an herb, who knew), so what could it hurt, right?
The beginning of the book basically set up what my personal journey (and many others like me who deal with similar illnesses like Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme Disease, etc. etc. etc.) looked like. The frustration of visiting doctor after doctor after doctor, all of the tests coming back "normal," and then ultimately being told you have some sort of psychosomatic issue causing all of your physical symptoms. Yep, been there. Second, one of the first things the book addresses from a "medical" standpoint is Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus. I'll write more on that later. But for the first time in a long time, I felt like I was given some hope- which leads me to the celery juice.
Below I'm providing two sets of information: the first set of info will be nutritional information about celery juice, and info that can be backed or identified by science or a medical professional. The second set of information will be what is provided by Anthony William’s website, and why he believes celery juice to be so therapeutic. Let's dig in!
First and foremost, let's look at celery's nutritional profile, as well as a few potential health benefits. In my search for science backed info, I came across a thorough article from an interview with Dr. Safdeih, MD at Parsley Health (you can read the whole thing here and find some sources for the info). It noted:
COMPOUNDS WITH ANTIOXIDANT PROPERTIES
Okay, okay. Celery definitely has quite a lot going on nutritionally. Honestly, that's more than enough reason to occasionally chug down some celery juice in my humble opinion. The only thing I didn't love from the article with Parsley Health was that it eluded in two or more places that fiber is good for you and juicing celery removes the fiber. That is indeed true; fiber is good for you... but I certainly would never eat an entire bunch of celery. Even if I did, the chances of my stomach breaking it down well enough to get all of it's nutrients are slim at best. So that's why I believe juicing something like celery could be highly beneficial. . . taking the fiber out means easier digestion and better nutrient absorption.
Now, below will be the ten benefits listed by Anthony Williams (you can read his whole article here). There are no scientific sources cited, and you'd have to read his book to understand why:
Like I said, if you're intrigued by Anthony's info- read his book. It's definitely a "you need to read it for yourself and decide what you want to take away from it" kind of book (for instance, I’m not sure I believe the backstory), but it’s interesting to explore his thoughts and information on chronic illness. You can check out @celeryjuicebenefits on Instagram for some pretty incredible testimonies. People are sharing stories of acne, digestion problems, depression, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, and more being healed. Which is probably what intrigues me most- it seems to be working for people.
So what do you think, would you try celery juice?
About ten years ago, I started a journey. I didn't know how it would impact my life, how long it would be, or where it would take me. I didn't know the pain it would cause me, the lessons it would teach me, or the community it would give me. I had no idea all the things I would lose, or all the things I would gain.
Sometimes life throws HUGE curveballs. Most 25 year olds don't imagine having to step away from their full-time occupation- or figure out what that means for their life. Should I fight my way back to work? Should I accept that maybe it's just not the most suitable career when considering my health? Was going to college to work in full-time music ministry a waste? What's next? Is God asking me to completely shift gears? Or is this just a small redirection? Is it only a season of learning and preparing for something else?
I still don't know the answer to any of these questions, but one thing I've become certain of is that regardless of the answers to any of them. . . I've been given an opportunity.
An opportunity to try new things, learn new things, develop new skills, and dream new dreams. Yeah, of course there's always pain in letting go (or rather, laying something down), especially when you've worked almost half your life for it. However, wallowing in the pain isn't going to change. a. darn. thing.
So here's what's up. Over the past couple years, I've heard a lot of these phrases more times than I can count:
And of course, my favorite, and most terrifying suggestion: You should write a book.
Yeah, that's definitely not happening. At least not anytime soon.
However, I do hope that in the midst of the limbo of "still trying to figure it all out," this becomes a place where I'm able to share things that help others. I wouldn't have learned half of the things I'll eventually be sharing if it weren't for the journey I've been on with illness. I wouldn't have this passion to encourage others to healthier lifestyles. I want to create a resource for not just healthy foods, but also healthy homes. As a culture, I think we've become sort of accustomed to, "you are what you eat," but very few of us understand the weight of, "you are what you live in."
Besides providing resources, I also look forward to having a place to share my story and connect with others. I'll write more about this later, but I've been put in a pretty tough position with my health. I'm part of a group of people who are considered to be, "the canaries in the coal mine." I'm the warning signal. What's happening to me, does matter for you- and that gives me so much motivation to share what I've learned. . . I really do want to be a warning signal that can become a positive voice amongst all the noise before it's too late for our communities, or our environment.
I also want to validate stories and share resources with others who are on similar wellness journeys: to create a community where maybe we don't feel quite so "different" after all.
So, thanks for joining me. I'm excited to cook together, learn together, grow together, and create positive and lasting change together. We'll probably be cooking together and sharing stories for quite a while before I'm able to launch some of the other portions of my site- but if you're anything like me, you probably believe so many friendships can be made over food and conversation!