Does Celery Make Your Mouth Feel Numb?

November  6, 2017

Some say celery makes their mouths feel numb. I definitely cannot concur, but apparently, this is a very real phenomenon for many people. It turns out, tingly tongues aren’t just a coincidence. Celery actually does have the ability to numb mouths, and an allergic reaction may be to blame.

The link between leafy stalk and oral sensation came to my attention on Twitter, where users gathered to fact check the feeling. "Is this normal?" some wondered. "Does anyone else feel this?" more mused. Tweeters came through, sharing explanations and solidarity. As it turns out, people whose mouths go numb upon eating celery are in no short supply.

Celery contains eugenol, a chemical compound scientists liken to an anesthetic. Apparently, it’s the presence of eugenol in celery that accounts for its tongue-numbing properties. The compound can also be found in cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, among other places. People react differently to celery and degrees of severity range from mild to severe. Please, acquaint yourself with your allergies before barrelling into an uninformed taste test.

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Nonetheless, if you find your tongue tingling after a celery snack, know you’re not alone and there actually exists an explanation for the confusing feeling.

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Top Comment:
“My tongue only tingles when I eat raw celery, not cooked!”
— Vonna

How many of you have felt your tongue go number after eating celery? Tell us about it in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sharon Edelson-Eubanks
    Sharon Edelson-Eubanks
  • Eric Driever
    Eric Driever
  • Jessica Bonnett
    Jessica Bonnett
  • Vonna
  • Donna Manuel
    Donna Manuel
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Sharon E. July 28, 2019
I definitely experience mouth numbing from eating raw celery, though, I haven’t noticed it with having eaten cooked celery.
Rennée M. January 20, 2021
This is common in fruits and veggies once cooked. My aunt is the same


Eric D. June 3, 2019
I recently have made celery a regular part of my diet and because of this noticed the numbness sensation every time. How is it that I am 52 and only now noticing? Crazy. I'll need to experiment. I don't get the numbness when cooked with other foods. I only get it when I eat it fresh.
Jessica B. May 26, 2019
I've noticed it before but today it was really strong. First bite made half my mouth numb. Maybe because I'm currently having an allergic reaction to poison ivy. Guess it heightened my sensitivity. Eating celery with ranch helps. Probably because of the oil creating a barrier in your mouth.
Vonna November 13, 2018
My tongue only tingles when I eat raw celery, not cooked!
Donna M. February 20, 2018
He gets severe breathing problems and vomiting
Becky H. February 20, 2018
I came across this article because I wanted to see if others had this experience. I also react the same to fennel. I have been having weird neurological symptoms with both. Like dizziness, feeling like you are going to pass out. Cilantro tastes like dish soap too. Weird.
Sherry B. November 9, 2017
I've experienced this with very dark, intense celery, typically the outer ribs. Less so with the paler, more tender inner ribs. It's not been unpleasant, exactly, but it's nice to find out why it occurs, so thank you!
Kris P. November 8, 2017
Yes! I'm not crazy!
Donna M. November 7, 2017
My son ends up in the hospital if he eats celery
Becky H. February 20, 2018
What kind of reaction does he have?
Jennifer A. November 7, 2017
Yes! It's nice to know that this is a real thing (I thought I was just been particular). The numbness is a pretty unpleasant feeling, and besides that, it also affects the taste of everything you eat after it - sort of the same as artichokes do. I have found that peeling the stringy ribs off the stalks helps minimize the celery side effects a bit
Henry November 6, 2017
YES! I always thought this is just what celery does for everyone--it makes your mouth go numb. You never go around talking to people about celery.
ChefJune November 6, 2017
I have never experienced that phenomenon. But then, I get a soapy metallic taste in my mouth when I (try to) eat cilantro, so I surely do understand how "stuff" can happen to some people.