If someone says a salt exists, and everyone hears it, should you drink it?

Dear Doctor Ninja,

I’ve been reading about the benefits of celery juice and they seem miraculous. But there seems to be a lot of conflicting information about it. Some experts say that there isn’t any science behind it, while people who have actually tried celery juice say they feel a lot better. Should I start drinking celery juice?


V. Egetated

Every few years, juice from a previously un-juiced plant makes it way into the world in a major way. This year, it’s celery. A decade ago, it was cranberry. A few years ago, it was green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach (i.e. “green juice”)—beverages that seem quite standard in non-specialty stores like convenience stores today.

These waves of trends seem to tap into a common theme: Nature provides, but inefficiently, or inadequately. Juicing a plant removes or reduces its solid components, allowing you to fit more liquid parts of the plant (and the things dissolved in that liquid part) into your body at once. You could eat an orange, but to get a glass of orange juice requires two to four oranges. If you’ve ever eaten four oranges in a row, that’s a lot of orange for most people. If your goal in eating oranges is to get vitamin C, there’s about 50mg of vitamin C in one orange. Since vitamin C is water-soluble, most of the vitamin C in one orange can be extracted by juicing. When you consider that vitamin C supplements tend to come in 500mg servings, that’s 10 oranges, or 2.5 glasses of orange juice, or 1 single vitamin C tablet.

Whether you drink the juice or eat the plant/fruit depends on what you’re trying to get out of it.

In the case of celery juice, the proposed reason to juice celery is to get “cluster salts” out of the celery, which are the “active ingredient” that supposedly causes all the good things to happen.

The problem is that no one knows if cluster salts, as they’re being described by proponents of celery juice, exist. Or, if they do exist, what they are. And if they can’t tell us what they actually are, then there’s no way to develop a method to detect them. If I have a friend who may or may not be real, but I can’t describe them to anyone, no one will be able to tell whether my story about this friend is real or not because there’s no way to recognize this friend.

The lingering questions then cascade from here: If cluster salts exist, and they are good and presumably detectable, how many milligrams of cluster salts are in a head of celery? How many would be required to have the effect you’re looking for?

So, should you drink celery juice? It depends on whether you can answer the question of why you think drinking it will be good for you in terms of nutrient value; and whether that nutrient and reason can be shown to exist outside someone else’s dreams.