WHAT IS VITAMIN B17 (AMYGDALIN)?

       Most multiple vitamin/mineral supplements will include what is called the B complex which includes B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid and vitamin B12.  You will not see vitamin B17 included in the list of vitamins in your multiple. Why is this?

       Like all vitamins, the B’s are organic substances that have been identified as necessary for the health of the human body.  This identification has come about as a result of the recognition of specific health problems associated with a deficiency in one or more of the compounds known as vitamins.

       There is a compound called amygdalin that is found in the seeds of some foods and has come to be known in some circles as vitamin B17.  Calling amygdalin a vitamin has been called into question because it doesn’t appear to fit the definition of a vitamin as stated above. Since it is believed there are no deficiency symptoms associated with a lack of amygdalin in the diet, it is felt amygdalin shouldn’t be called a vitamin.  Others have observed that people with a lot of amygdalin in the diet are healthier and rarely get cancer. Therefore, some have concluded amygdalin may serve as a protective agent against cancer and other diseases and a lack of this nutrient can lead to health problems.  From this perspective, amygdalin could qualify as a vitamin.

       Amygdalin is found in a variety of berries, nuts, beans, and the seeds of fruits such as apples, peaches and pears.  Amygdalin is known to be abundant in apricot seeds.  One reason amygdalin is thought by some to be a protective agent against disease is related to what is known about the Hunza people who live in the Himalayas.  The Hunza’s have been studied for years because of their longevity and relative freedom from disease.  While a number of dynamics appear to be involved in the superior health of the Hunza’s, it has been noted that their diet contains a very high amount of amygdalin.  The Hunza’s grow apricot trees in large quantity and dry the seeds of the apricot fruit and regularly consume them as part of their diet.     

       Amygdalin is a member if a family of compounds called nitrilosides and is composed of two molecules of glucose, one molecule of a substance called benzaldehyde and one molecule of hydrocyanic acid.  It is believed by some that the hydrocyanic acid in amygdalin kills cancer cells.  Some years ago a synthetic version of amygdalin called Laetrile was developed and used by some health practitioners to treat cancer.  Is amygdalin/Laetrile an effective treatment for cancer?  It depends on who you talk too.

       The American medical establishment claims there is no evidence that amygdalin/Laetrile has any therapeutic value in the treatment of cancer. Distribution of Laetrile has been banned in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  It is available from some alternative medical doctors in Mexico and from some on-line sites. 

       According to the author of the book “Outsmart Your Cancer,” the cyanide component of amygdalin/Laetrile is mostly released in the body when it comes into contact with an enzyme called beta-glucosidase which is primarily found in cancer cells.  It is believed the released cyanide kills the cancer cells.  In a book entitled, “World Without Cancer,” it is reported that before 1974 there were at least twenty-six published papers written by well-known physicians who concluded Laetrile was both safe and effective in the treatment of cancer.

       While Laetrile is not readily available in the United States due to FDA prohibitions, amygdalin can be consumed by eating the kinds of foods mentioned above and in particular apricot seeds.  At Milk ‘N Honey we carry 16 oz packages of raw apricot seeds grown in California.  These seeds are pesticide and herbicide free and contain approximately 20 mg of amygdalin per seed.  We also carry the book “Out Smart Your Cancer” which provides additional information on amygdalin/Laetrile as well as a great deal of information on a variety of non-toxic cancer treatments that have been shown to be successful.