Amygdalin (Vitamin B17)

Amygdalin, also known as vitamin B17, is basically a toxic cyanogenic glycoside present in several plants. This compound is mainly found in the kernels (seeds) of apricot, plum and peach.

Since the beginning of the 1950s, some people have been promoting amygdalin and a modified variety called laetrile and an alternative remedy for cancer, often referring to it wrongly as vitamin B17. It is worth mentioning here that neither laetrile nor amygdalin is a vitamin.

In 1830, two French chemists, Antoine Boutron-Charlard and Pierre-Jean Robiquet isolated amygdalin from bitter almond seeds (botanical name Prunus dulcis) for the first time. Later, Liebig and Wöhler discovered three amygdalin hydrolysis products - benzaldehyde, sugar and prussic acid (also known as hydrogen cyanide). Subsequent studies revealed that sulfuric acid also hydrolyzes amygdalin to form benzaldehyde, D-glucose and prussic acid. On the other hand, reaction with hydrochloric acid gives ammonia, D-glucose and mandelic acid.

Way back in 1845, physicians in Russia employed amygdalin for treating cancer, but later in the 1920s, this plant compound was considered to be toxic in the United States. In the 1950s, a patent for a synthetic form of amygdalin, which was non-toxic, was obtained for using the substance to preserve meat. Later, some companies marketed this synthetic product as laetrile for treating cancer.

The nutrient vitamin B17 is mainly present in the fruit seeds, especially in apricot seeds. This vitamin is also referred to by various different names, such as amygdalin, laetrile and nitriloside. In fact, all these names are given to the purified form of vitamin B17, which is developed for preventing as well as treating cancer.

In some countries like the United States it is practically impossible to purchase vitamin B17 supplements for prevention and treatment of cancer, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has included it in the list of illegal items for sale. However, you can obtain this nutrient from raw apricot seeds, which are considered to be among the best available sources of vitamin B17. Unfortunately, these seeds are also not available in the health stores in the United States, owing to the ban on vitamin B17 supplements. In fact, the FDA, the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association have all strongly disallowed the use of laetrile for use to prevent as well as treat cancer. What is interesting is that all these organizations have described the belief that vitamin B17 or laetrile is effective in preventing and treating cancer as a medical scam.

However, not everyone agrees with the FDA, the American Cancer Society and the American Medical Association blatantly rejecting the use of vitamin B17 for cancer treatment. It has been found that when cancer patients consumed laetrile, it worked to reduce their disease significantly. In a number of instances, this nutrient is also reported to have completely stopped tumour growths in their body. Moreover, administering elevated levels of laetrile through injections is said to have been helpful in alleviating pain associated with various forms of cancer. While no one can deny that vitamin B17 possesses anti-carcinogenic properties, even the allegations that using vitamin B17 supplements to prevent as well as cure cancer are a medical scam also not completely unfounded. In fact, several citizens in the United States consider the ban on vitamin B17 supplements and apricot seeds for treating cancer as a move by the authorities to curb their rights to use alternative medical therapies.

People who have been advocating using laetrile for cancer treatment insist that cancer is caused by an insufficiency of one or several nutrients in the body and oral use of laetrile makes it impossible for all cancer forms to develop and survive in the body. However, there is no medical evidence to back their claims. On the other hand, all over the world, nutritionists have been stressing on the basic importance of taking a balanced diet comprising heirloom and organically grown foods to supply the body with various nutrients as well as enzymes that are necessary for maintaining optimal health.

While the sale of vitamin B17 supplements may be banned in certain countries, people suffering from cancer can still ingest this nutrient if they want. All they need to do is purchase fresh apricots from the market and extract their seeds and incorporate them in their daily diet. You can also obtain vitamin B17 from other sources, such as the seeds of cherries, apples, oranges, peaches and nectarines. It is advised that keeping the safety issues in mind, people should eat the seeds along with the fruits and not separately.

As discussed above, vitamin B17 is basically a nitriloside, which is a sugary compound soluble in water. In fact, nitrilosides are present in more than 1200 wild foods, also particularly apricots contain this nutrient in high amounts. In addition, seeds of apples, peaches and cherries also contain nitrilosides. Aside from the seeds of the fruits mentioned above, vitamin B17 is present in elevated levels in a variety of grains, grasses and berries that are grown organically. To a great extent, the diet of the primitive man was composed of organic foods containing nitriloside, which helped them to prevent as well as cure a number of diseases, including cancer.

However, we are unfortunate that in contemporary times, the average diet lacks or is deficient in the nutrients mentioned above. Earlier, humans basically thrived as well as maintained their health as they were included in their daily diet. Even when consumed these foods every day through their diet or otherwise, in most cases they may not have been cultivated organically. Worse still, these foods may have been over-processed with a view to remove their bitter flavor and add some sweetness to them. When the bitterness is removed from such foods, it results in the loss of several essential constituents. For instance, processing the foods to remove their bitterness usually robs these foods of their protein and polyunsaturated fat contents. Moreover, it also removes many other useful compounds like vitamin B17 (nitrilosides), which are present in the natural state of these foods.

For several centuries, health practitioners in China have been traditionally using the bitter apricot seed (locally known as Xing Ren) in the form of a nutritious dietary supplement with a view to help in maintaining optimal health as well as to ensure one's well-being. Since long, people have believed that the apricot seed is beneficial for the health of our skin. In addition, they believed that it also promoted the health of our respiratory system, in addition to lubricating the bowel. Many dieticians also encouraged people to consume apricot seeds, as they possess antioxidant properties. Aside from these therapeutic properties, apricot seeds also enclose vitamin E, which is effective in improving circulation and promoting healing of wounds. In many parts of the world, people use the apricot seeds to extract concentrated oil or pulverize them into a powdered form and use them as a dietary supplement. These are believed to be highly nutritious.

Laetrile or vitamin B17 is known as anti-cancer vitamin for its ability to combat this deadly disease. In fact, use of this vitamin forms a part of alternative cure for cancer. It has been found that vitamin B17 is effective in reducing tumours as well as putting of metastasis. In other words, this vitamin prevents the cancer from spreading to different areas of the body. Vitamin B17 or laetrile eliminates cancer cells, in addition to boosting the immune system in combating cancer. Its use also helps in preventing risks of cancer in the future. Foods containing elevated levels of vitamin B17 are known as nitrilosides. Nitrilosides comprise a wide variety of seeds, nuts, grains, sprouts, tubers, beans and also certain leaves.


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