While fresh apricots may not be the most available fruit—they are only in season in North America from May to August—they are certainly one of the tastiest.
Apart from their sweet, almost musky flavor, apricots provide a plethora of health benefits that range from regulating cholesterol levels and maintaining optimal vision and heart health to promoting healthy skin and mucus membranes as well as weight loss.
They are also known to treat respiratory conditions, boost bone strength, and maintain electrolyte balance. But the most exciting health benefit is apricot’s proven cancer fighting abilities.(1)
Apricots are full of fiber, potassium and beneficial phytochemicals. These fruits are also a significant source of vitamins A and C, both powerful antioxidants. They also contain other potent antioxidants such as quercetin, proanthocyanidins, catechins, epicatechins, hydroxycinnamics, gallic acid, caffeic acid, coumaric acid and ferulic acid.(2)
While this tiny fruit may seem like a one-stop health remedy, there is actually a lot of controversy surrounding it—or at least its large pit and the seed within it, which contain its anti-cancer agent.
Apricot Seeds—Good or Bad?
The crucial anticancer ingredient in apricot seeds is called amagdylin, which is a nitrioloside. Apricot pits contain about 5 percent amagdylin and the sweet kernels (seeds) found inside the pits, contain about 0.9 percent.(3)
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Since amagdylin resembles the B complex structures, in 1952, the biochemist, Dr. Ernst Krebb, Jr., who was responsible for isolating it, decided to call it B17 as 16 other types of B vitamins had already been isolated at that time.
In the 1970s, B17 (also called laetrile), was widely said by New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to prevent the spread of cancer.(4)
Not surprisingly, after its Board of Directors realized that laetrile, being a natural food substance that could not be patented and thus produce profits, pulled their support and hid all positive research. But in July 1977, Ralph Moss, a writer who worked in the public relations department at Sloan Kettering, exposed the truth about what is being called “the most disgraceful cover-up in the history of cancer research.”
In the interim, laetrile was banned by the FDA and to this day is the subject of dispute between both traditional and natural health professionals.
Why Is Vitamin B17 So Effective?
The controversy stemming from amagdylin results from two of four substances in its chemical makeup. While two are essentially harmless sugars, the other two, benzaldyhide and cyanide, are of more concern.
Both of these substances can be poisonous if somehow released as pure molecules in your body (i.e. they become freed from the other molecules in their formation).(5)
Cyanide is also found in many other common foods such as almonds, Lima beans, soy and even spinach, which are deemed safe because the cyanide molecules remain bound.(6)
As an added precaution, your body contains a natural enzyme called rhodanese, which essentially helps bind any free cyanide to sulphur, also found in your body. Once bound, the cyanide is simply flushed through your body when you urinate.(8)
When it comes to cancer cells, however, both cyanide and benzaldyhide can be lethal. All cancer cells contain beta-glucosidase, an enzyme that can unlock both the cyanide and benzaldyhide molecules, causing the cancer cells to apopotize (self-destruct) without harming healthy cells.
This makes laetrile a good alternative to treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, which kill all cells, including any healthy cells. These treatments also wreak havoc and even destroy a patient’s immunity. Chemotherapy and radiation further increase the chances of cancerous cells returning after treatment due to a patient’s weakened and thus unhealthy metabolism.
The issue with laetrile treatment, however, is that it takes considerable amounts of daily ingestion before it can actually reach the cancerous cells simply because the body’s natural response is to release rhodanese to counter any cyanide.
Taking this into account, according to Natural News, practitioners who have used laetrile have had about an 85 percent success rate among people who had not already undergone traditional cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy.(9)
Unfortunately for those who had undergone these types of toxic treatments, the cure rate with laetrile was only 15 percent.
How Many Apricot Seeds To Eat?
One study published in JAMA states that laetrile does not cause cyanide poisoning.(10) And there have been no recorded deaths caused directly from treatment with apricot seeds, but it is still banned by the FDA.
Should you opt to use laetrile as a cancer treatment, you can find suppliers online or you will have to seek out help in countries where it is legal such as Europe and Mexico.
Most experts recommend taking between 24 and 40 apricot kernels a day (spaced throughout the day). A general rule of thumb is one seed for every 10 pounds of body weight. For prevention, the typical recommendation is between 5 to 7 kernels a day.
Where laetrile is legal, practitioners also give their patients vitamin B15 tablets and digestive enzymes such as papain (from papayas) and bromelain (from pineapples) as too many apricot pit kernels have been known to cause nausea or dizziness.
It should be noted as well that laetrile should not be the primary cancer treatment for any cancer patient. Simply think of it as an effective supplemental treatment.(11)
There are numerous natural alternatives for cancer prevention and treatment, which together, can create a suitable treatment protocol. If you decide to treat your cancer without conventional medicine, you should seek out a knowledgeable naturopath or holistic cancer center where you will receive the most up to date information and care.
As always, to remain healthy and prevent cancer, you should start with healthy lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise and of course, reducing any, if not most of the stress in your life.