Stalk of the town: the shaky science behind the ‘global celery movement’
Anthony William, who calls himself the Medical Medium, preaches the juices healing powers as sales of the vegetable jump 400% despite having no medical training
Anthony William is the Jesus Christ of celery. Legend has it that at the tender age of four, William realized he was gifted with the ability to “read” people’s medical conditions and help them overcome disease. As he grew older and even wiser, William started preaching the healing powers of celery juice – specifically, the healing powers of chugging 16oz of straight celery juice on an empty stomach daily. A “global celery juice movement” was born; William amassed disciples from all around the world – Los Angeles in particular – all of them evangelizing the power of celery juice. Indeed, Los Angeles magazine recently reported that sales of the super-stalk have jumped 400% at local grocery stores, and the veggie is increasingly hard to find.
If you are not a celery disciple, you may be wondering what on God’s green earth is going on. Is William some kind of scientist who discovered hitherto unknown medical properties of celery? Not exactly. William, who calls himself the Medical Medium, has no medical training whatsoever. His pronouncements are frequently so absurd they sound like satire. He told the New York Post that celery juice is “a powerful herbal medicine that’s killing bugs in people’s bodies”. Like all good snake oil salesmen, he also employs sciencey-sounding but completely nonsensical claims. William has said that celery contains “an undiscovered subgroup of sodium that I call cluster salts” that prevent “gut rot”. Numerous nutritionists and dietitians have rolled their eyes heavily at this.
William isn’t too concerned with what they think. After all, what would they know? “I didn’t know research and science knew everything that was wrong with everybody,” he told Los Angeles magazine.
And while doctors and scientists may not see the wisdom of William’s ways, it doesn’t really matter because nobody listens to experts any more. We get our health advice from influencers and celebrities instead. And William counts a lot of celebrities among his fans. Miranda Kerr is a celery juice devotee, enthusing that it is “anti-inflammatory, alkalizing and honestly makes me feel so energized!” Kim Kardashian has said she drinks it, even though it’s “pretty gross”, because the Medical Medium said it would help her psoriasis. Novak Djokovic is also on board the celery train. And you won’t be surprised to hear that the patron saint of woo, Gwyneth Paltrow, is also a fan. William is a frequent contributor to Goop.
Does it really matter if the rich and the gullible are drinking celery juice in the misguided belief it will change their life? To some degree, no. It may not be the elixir many want it to be, but there’s no harm in people drinking it.
However, it is worrying that a guy like William, a man who is proud of his lack of medical background, exerts so much influence over people’s health choices. He has 1.7 million followers on Instagram and his bestselling books have sold almost 1m copies. And some of his other advice arguably is dangerous. Dr Jen Gunter, for example, has called his views on thyroid cancer “fact-deficient fearmongering … that could dissuade women and men from getting what could be life-saving genetic testing. This is the kind of goopshit that makes it harder for doctors to care for patients and can actually kill people.”
If all this has made you thirsty, by all means reach for a tall glass of celery juice. Just be sure to drink it down with a very large pinch of salt.