in the pharmacopaeias of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), apricot seeds
(also known as "bitter almonds," and botanically as "prunus armeniaca")
have been used for thousands of years to
treat respiratory problems. They are used by practitioners in the
treatment of . . .
There are a substantial number of claims on the internet concerning the cancer-fighting benefits of apricot seeds. We are close to one medical doctor in Los Angeles (who must remain anonymous) that did research on Vitamin B-17 (also known as "amygdalin" from which the drug "Laetrile" is produced) in the 1960's. He found that the threshold dosage at which B-17 really made a noticeable difference was also the dosage at which it became toxic to the body. "At best," he told us, "it is, in small amounts, a good long-term preventative, of sorts. At worst, it can make you quite ill - perhaps even kill you."
Apricot Seeds As A Cancer Treatment
Because Alpha Omega Labs deals in nutraceutical products, the components of which have provable effects on cancer, a reader might think that our interest in apricot seeds is in connection with our worldwide work in alternative cancer nutraceuticals. (After all, our original domain is "altcancer.net".)
As it turns out, this is not the case. In the seminal work upon which our original formulas are based, Plants Used Against Cancer by Dr. Jonathan Hartwell, apricot is mentioned three times. Listed under Rosaceae (the botanical Family to which "prunus armeniaca" belongs), apricot seeds are mentioned in Chinese literature in the "Ming-i-pie-lu" - circa 502 A.D. The oil appears, secondly, by way of Matthiolus in his "Commentarii in Sex Libros Pedacii Dioscorides" (1544) as a treament for tumours. Lastly, Hartwell found that apricot "almonds" were a rich part of medicinal folklore in Kentucky - both as a preventative and as a "cure."
Nonetheless, the fact that apricot was so well known, both to the Chinese and to the Indians - (brought to them via Euroasian trade routes over two thousand years ago from the Middle East - and mentioned in aramaic texts - the "English" of the day), and yet does not have a prominent place as a cancer treatment in either TCM or ayurvedic traditions, is, in our opinion, telling.
As with most "herbal bitters," apricot seeds, when not used by a TCM practitioner for its traditional use in respiratory ailments, should be taken in small amounts as a preventative - nothing more. A safe nutraceutical dose for an adult is 6 to 7 of our Blenheim variety apricot seeds per day.
B-17 & Laetrile
The answer is that there is just as much scientific evidence to show that apricot seeds are, at best, a marginal treatment, as there is to show that it helps.
At Alpha Omega Labs we have received reports from cancer patients who took the recommended 6 or 7 apricot seeds per day and said they believed it helped. We have received just as many reports from patients that it did little or nothing to help them.
It is for this reason that the ancient literature of other traditions (which existed long, long before organizations like the U.S. FDA) do not list apricot seeds as a cancer treatment.
On the flip side, you have a level of overreaction on the part of medical orthodox community (and through their henchmen at the AMA and FDA), which has fueled an entire "apricot seed subculture." By placing apricot seeds on nearly the same legal footing as botanically-derived neuropharmacologicals (such as marijuana, or morning glory seeds - the latter to make a poor man's LSD), the FDA itself has created a substantial "apricot seed market" - most of it south of the border.
Every year, thousands of patients head to Mexico (mostly U.S. and Canadian citizens in border cities, such as Tijuana) to get "Laetrile" injections - essentially, concentrations of the seed's active compound.
In fairness, many of these patients have reported success - (although we have had more than a handful of patients tell us that they thought Vitamin C cured their cancer!)
Mankind has had thousands of years to create, test, and validate its great herbal traditions. This site is built upon the principle that those traditions are worth recognizing, researching, and debating in the public arena - to the benefit of all who participate.
Apricot seeds have a prominent place in Chinese medicine for its benefits in respiratory ailments. We suspect that is where its best applications will be found... all political posturing aside.