This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
Our garden Celery (Apium sativum) is a cultivated variety of the wild Celery (Apium graveolens) which grows abundantly in moist English ditches, and in water, being unwholesome as a food, and with a fetid smell. But like several other plants of the same natural order (umbelliferous), when transplanted into the garden, dressed, and bleached, it becomes fragrant, healthful, and an excellent condimentary vegetable, besides now taking high curative rank. Our edible celery is a striking instance of the fact that most of the poisonous plants can by human ingenuity be so altered in character as to become eminently serviceable for food, or physic. Thus the wild Celery, which is certainly dangerous when growing as a plant exposed to the daylight, becomes most palatable, as well as beneficial, by having its young, crisp, leaf-stalks earthed up, and bleached during a time of cultivation. It contains some sugar, and a volatile, odorous principle, which in the wild plant smells, and tastes strongly, and disagreeably. The characteristic odour, and flavour of the cultivated plant are due to this same essential oil, which has now become of modified strength, and qualities; also when freshly cut our Celery affords albumin, starch, mucilage, and mineral matters.
"Celery," said Mr. Gibson Ward, President of the Vegetarian Society, 1879, in some letters to The Times, "is when cooked a very fine dish, both as a nutriment, and as a purifier of the blood. I will not attempt to enumerate all the marvellous cures I have made with celery, lest medical men should be worrying me en masse. Let me fearlessly say that rheumatism is impossible on this diet; and yet English doctors in 1876 allowed rheumatism to kill three thousand, six hundred and forty human beings, every death being as unnecessary as a dirty face".
This herb "Sallery," wrote John Evelyn in his Acetaria, or Book of Sallets, "is for its high and grateful taste ever placed in the middle of the grand sallet at our great men's tables, and our proctor's feasts, as the grace of the whole board."Chemically Celery contains apiin, and a glucoside, or sugar, combined with apigenin (a yellowish sublimable aromatic principle) which is said to be harmful to diabetic sufferers. With certain susceptible persons the cultivated garden Celery disagrees violently, causing severe oppression of the chest, and constrictive trouble of the throat, within two or three hours after eating it; also a swelling of the face and hands, with a general itching of the skin. If plainly stewed in only its own water, Celery retains all the useful properties of the stalks. Again, the solid roots of the plant, if cut into dice, and baked a nice brown, may be ground into Celery coffee, which can be used like ordinary coffee, making a refreshing beverage beneficial to the nervous system when needing recruital. The old Romans employed the Celery plant in garlands, to be bound around the head for neutralizing the fumes of wine.
It represented one of the Parsleys.
Celeriac is the turnip-rooted Celery, and is likewise cooked as a wholesome vegetable.
Or again, for relieving rheumatism, wash the Celery, and cut it into small pieces, and stew them well in quite a little water. Strain this, and put it aside to be taken two or three tablespoonfuls at a time. Dr. Stacey Jones advises Celery-tea, hot and strong (with, cream and sugar, if desired), to be drunk by the teacupful three or four times in the day, so as to abate neuralgia, and even sciatica, which it sometimes will do very speedily; likewise sick headaches. For ordinary stewed Celery as a vegetable dish, cut five or six sticks of Celery into lengths, each about four inches, and stew these in some good brown stock until tender; take out the Celery, and reduce the stock to half the quantity: thicken with a little butter and flour: add pepper and salt: then pour this over the Celery, and serve on a square of toast, very hot. For making Celery water, allow a large head for each quart of water. Cook this when washed, and cut up, until the water is reduced to a pint: then strain, and give a wineglassful two or three times in the day.
It is best taken on an empty stomach.