Do Apricot Seeds Have Health Benefits and Anticancer Benefits?

The pit of the apricot contains apricot seeds, or kernels, which are the carrier of amygdalin. Amygdalin is a naturally occurring disaccharide (two sugar molecules), benzaldehyde and hydrogen cyanid. Amygdalin has erroneously also been called vitamin B17, but it is not a vitamin.

In addition to antitumor properties, amygdalin has been shown to have antioxidative, antibacterial, anti‐inflammatory and immunoregulatory activities. (source) A review study concluded that amygdalin showed beneficial effects on different body systems besides its anticancer activity, renal fibrosis inhibition, antiasthmatic action, improves immune function and antiparkinsonian effect. (source)

Amygdalin Can Be Used for Cancer

You probably have not heard the claim that it kills cancer cells. Perhaps you have heard of the anticancer drug Laetrile, one of the most controversial topics in modern medicine. Laetrile (a contraction of the formal name LAEvo-mandeloniTRILE-glucoside) is a compound first synthesized in the 1950s by research biochemists Krebs and Krebs. Laetrile was banned by the FDA in the 1980s. Laetrile is chemically similar to a natural substance found in certain plant foods, primarily in apricot kernels, but it is semi-synthetic. You can read an article on Green Med Info about the 1972 raid by the FDA on Dr. John Richardson's clinic in Albany, California. He was jailed for prescribing an unapproved cancer drug called laetrile.

God Has Woven Amygdalin Into Plant Foods and It Is a Natural Cancer Control

Amygdalin is a compound found in the kernel seeds of more than 800 plants. Apricots are one of the richest sources. The seeds of apricots (also called bitter almond), cherries, sweet cherry, peaches, plums, nectarines and apples are also rich in amygdalin. (source)

Amygdalin Can Specifically Attack Cancer Cells

A 2019 review article published in the International Journal of Biochemistry and Pharmacology stated, "Moreover, it was noticeable that some people and isolated tribes all over the world didnʼ't have any cancer cases, such as the Abkhazians, the Hopi and Navajo Indians, the Hunzas, the Eskimos and the Karakorum. It turned out that they had in common a diet rich in amygdalin. Consequently, many researchers and scientists all over the globe carried out various studies and clinical trials to prove its anticancer activity, and they found that amygdalin can specifically attack cancer cells without affecting other healthy cells, decrease the telomerase activity, and block the bladder cancer cell growth. On the other hand, amygdalin showed serious side effects caused by cyanide compounds liberated after amygdalin degradation." (source)

Is the released cyanide dangerous?

Amygdalin is a natural cyanogenic glycoside (a sugar molecule that releases cyanide when it is metabolized by an enzyme in the body) occurring in the seeds of some edible plants, such as apricot kernels and peaches. 

The controversy stems from the way amygdalin is metabolized (broken down by enzymes) in the body. While it is true that amygdalin releases cyanide after consuming apricot kernels, it is important to balance the promising outcomes as anticancer treatment with its potential side effects at high doses. Appropriate doses will avoid the negative consequences.

Cyanide Attacks Cancer Cells

Amygdalin is a naturally occurring anticancer agent.

Many studies have shown that amygdalin can inhibit the proliferation of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer, cervical cancer, liver cancer, bladder cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, colon cancer. (source)

A study published in 2016 showed that amygdalin inhibits proliferation of breast cancer cells through apoptosis and inhibiting adhesions. (source)

Amygdalin can induce apoptosis, or cell death, in cancer cells. (source)(source)(source)

More Is Not Better - Avoid Excessive Consumption of Apricot Seeds

Excessive consumption of seeds may have a negative effect on the body, causing a number of adverse reactions including dizziness, headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. (source)

Importantly, healthy cells have rhodanese, a protein present in the mitochondria. Rhodanese is a cyanide detoxifying enzyme and helps maintain healthy mitochondrial function. (source) Healthy cells can detox cyanide while at the same time, an enzyme in cancer cells called B-glucosidase accelerates the breakdown of amygdalin into hydrogen cyanide, which can effectively kill tumor cells resulting in a significant increase in the cancer cell mortality rate. (source)

How to Safely Consume Apricot Kernels

It is best to start by consuming just one apricot kernel and watching for any negative side effects. Consume no more than one seed an hour for a total of three to eight seeds per day.

The kernels have a bitter taste but I find it to be mild and easy to consume. If you do not like the taste, you can chop up a kernel and add it to a salad or yogurt or blend into a smoothie.

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