There is a growing number of nutrients such as Vitamin D, Vitamin A with supportive evidence that they are beneficial for cancer treatment outcomes. There are also herbal medicines such as Astragalus or Reishi mushrooms with supportive evidence in their role in cancer fighting effects. Some nutrients such as Vitamin B17 or Laetrile from apricot kernals has very limited supportive evidence that it is effective or safe in the treatment of cancer. Laetrile is a chemically modified form of amygdalin. However, the terms amygdalin and Laetrile are often used interchangeably.It is believed by some that Chinese doctors used this substance around 3,500 years ago by for the treatment of tumors. It usually administered in the form of bitter apricot kernels or seeds.
What is Laetrile?
Laetrile is a substance found in apricot kernels and comprises about 2-3% of the kernel. It is also available in the kernels of other fruits, such as plums, cherries, peaches, nectarines, and apples. Many plants contain some laetrile or “B17”, with the sprouting seeds, especially mung bean sprouts, containing the highest amount.The levels found in these foods are far lower than seeds in stone fruits.
It has been argued that the diet of primitive man regularly ate the seeds (and kernels) of all fruits but there is no clear supportive evidence that this is infact true. Monkey’s and other primates frequently discard the hard seeds of fruits and do not consume them.
In 1802, a chemist discovered that distilling the water from bitter almonds released hydrocyanic acid. In the 1830s, the source of this hydrocyanic acid was purified and called amygdalin. It was thought to be the active ingredient in bitter almonds. Nitriloside was discussed in 1920 by a California physician, Ernest Krebs while experimenting with flavorings for bootleg whisky. His son, Dr. Ernest Krebs, Jr. claimed to have purified it and coined the name ‘laetrile’ in 1952. Krebs’ studies showed that when a human or animal system ingests sufficient amount of laetrile (or in its natural form, hydrocyanic acid), this substance becomes selectively toxic to cancer cells.
Then in the early seventies, Dr. Harold Manner of the Biology Department at Loyola University, Chicago, conducted a study on a strain of mice using a combination of enzymes, Vitamin A, and laetrile. He reported in his book, “After 6-8 days, an ulceration appeared at the tumor site. Within the ulceration was a pus-like fluid. An examination of this fluid revealed dead malignant cells. The tumor gradually underwent complete regression in 75 of the experimental animals. This represented 89.3% of the total group.” (quoted in Moss, 1982). He concluded that laetrile needs to be taken with vitamin A and enzymes to be really effective.
What does the Research say about Vitamin B17?
The studies on Laetrile or “vitamin B17” conducted since have not supported the findings and have suggested that the therapy may be dangerous. Perhaps the therapy might be slightly beneficial however there are many other nutrients and herbal medicines that have a much stronger pool of evidence for their effectiveness. Of all of the available alternative medicines, it would be wiser to seek out those that have supportive evidence-based research.
If you are looking for a cure for cancer or a healthy treatment for cancer, it may be just as beneficial or perhaps more beneficial to consume a healthy amount of organic nuts and seeds in your diet.