A single kernel found within the stone of an apricot, an apricot kernel has been reported to have a number of uses – including detox-enhancing properties and cancer-fighting abilities.
On one hand these kernels are sometimes sold as snacks or for baking, while on the other hand scientists are warning about a compound within the kernel that converts to cyanide in the body. What is the truth about apricot kernels?
What are Apricot Kernels?
Apricot kernels look similar to a small almond in appearance. When freshly harvested from the apricot stone they are white, however they become a light brown colour as the skin is dried out. Nutritionally they are similar to other nuts – containing protein, fiber, iron and rich in healthy fats and oils.
The kernels come in two varieties – bitter and sweet. The sweet apricot kernels are sold as snacks, eating much like nutritious almonds. They are often used in processed foods such as apricot jams, amaretto biscuits and almond finger biscuits. The oils from the sweet kernels can also be used for cooking in the same way that one uses almond oil. The bitter variety of the kernels are made into oils used in cosmetics such as face creams, lip balms, body oils and essential oils.
While the sweet apricot kernels are found to have a number of health benefits, including boosting immunity and fighting off bodily infections, the bitter kernels have become a topic of controversy, as they contain the compound amygdalin (or laetrile).
What is Laetrile and How Can It Be Used?
Laetrile is the term used to describe a purified form of the compound amygdalin, also called vitamin B17 by some companies in their efforts to label and market the compound as an essential substance. This plant compound contains sugar, and in the body, it is converted to cyanide. The compound is also found in the pits of other fruits, raw nuts, and in plants such as lima beans and clover. This substance is legally available as a food supplement, however not if it is promoted to benefit cancer patients.
The amygdalin compound contains four molecules, two of which are glucose, one benzaldehyde and one cyanide. Due to the make up and function of cancer cells, the compound is only broken down, releasing the latter two molecules, when they come in contact with a cancer cell. Unlike most cells, cancer cells depend on glucose for their energy, instead of oxygen. For this reason, the cancer cells attract the amygdalin compounds for their glucose. An enzyme found within cancer cells, beta-glucosidase, ‘unlocks’ the amygdalin compound, releasing the deadly toxins within the cancer cell. Healthy cells do not contain this enzyme. Healthy cells inside contain rhodanese.
Should any cyanide molecules find their way free into the body, rhodanese binds them to sulfur molecules, creating cyanates which are harmless compounds that are eliminated in our urine.
What does this mean for the use of apricot kernels? Many cancer victims have shared their experiences using these kernels to cure themselves, consuming as many as 30 or more per day! In a March 2010 article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald,’ Jill Stark wrote “Paul Reid should be dead. Diagnosed with a rare, incurable lymphoma, he was given five years, seven tops, by his oncologist.” The article goes on to share Reid’s story, explaining how he consumed 30 apricot kernels each day. He also altered his diet, eliminating processed foods, sugars and red meat. Within the article is a photograph in which Reid is smiling happily at age 68, 13 years after his original prognosis.
This video from G. Edward Griffin, an investigative journalist who authored the book ‘World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B17’ shares more information about the use of this compound in cancer treatment:
In a 2006 study by the Department of Physiology at Kyung Hee University in South Korea, laetrile extract was combined with cancerous humane prostate cells. It was found that the extract helped to significantly induce a process called apoptosis (programmed cell death) In the prostate cancer cells.
What Other Benefits do Apricot Kernels Provide?
Looking beyond the debate in regards to the use of laetrile for cancer treatment, apricot kernels have been found to also have other benefits worth noting.
- Boosts Immunity
The amygdalin in apricot kernels has been found to stimulate the immune system by causing a statistically significant increase in the ability of the body’s white blood cells to attack harmful cells.
- Lowers High Blood Pressure
Apricot kernels have found to be beneficial in managing high blood pressure due to the formation of a compound called thiocyanate, a powerful blood pressure-lowering agent.
- Relieves Pain
The Chinese use apricot kernels in their pharmacology to treat arthritic pain. The detoxifying nature of the kernels is due to the fiber that they contain, which traps acids and other toxins in the digestive system. This reduces inflammation in the body, reducing pain.
Why is Laetrile Banned for Cancer Treatment Purposes?
The compound laetrile was originally banned by the FDA during the early 1970’s. The exact cause is unknown – whether it was simply due to the fact that it was found to be ineffective in studies completed at the time, however there is a darker theory that some are now discussing. Could it be that this compound was banned in order to maintain the financial stability of Big Pharma?
Dr. Ralph Moss was hired by the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Institute in New York City as a science writer, and then later promoted to head of public affairs, and later fired. He stated:
“Twenty years ago [1974 – this interview took place in 1994] I was hired at Memorial Sloane Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center in New York as the science writer, later promoted to assistant director of public affairs. Shortly after I went to work there I went to visit an elderly Japanese scientist, Kanematsu Sugiura, who astonished me when he told me he was working on Laetrile (B17), at the time it was the most controversial thing in cancer … reputed to be a cure for cancer.
We were finding this [laetrile’s efficacy] and yet we in public affairs were told to issue statements to the exact opposite of what we were finding scientifically, and as the years went by I got more wrapped up in this thing and 3 years later I said all this in my own press conference, and was fired the next day, ‘for failing to carry out his most basic job responsibility’ – ie to lie to the public about what goes on in cancer research.
Dr Sugiura, never renounced the results of his own studies [proving laetrile halted cancer], despite the fact they put enormous pressure on him to do so.
When I was at MSK a lot of very weird things started to happen to me, there was this cognitive distance between what I was told, and was writing about treatment, especially chemotherapy, and what I was seeing with my own eyes.”