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Amygdalin, also known in the health world as "Vitamin B17", has been popularized as a health supplement and a cure for cancer. Amygdalin is usually found in the seeds of the apricot tree, as well as the seeds of peaches and plums. It is also present in lesser quantities in lima beans, clover, and sorghum. This is a controversial substance, which is trusted by some, and condemned by others.

Argument against (conventional)

Once it is consumed, amygdalin breaks down in the human body and produces hydrogen cyanide which can be extremely lethal. Because of the variation in body chemistry of different individuals, a true toxic dose cannot be established, but any quantity is a risk. Some professionals say that the cancer curing properties of Amygdalin have been studied numerous times with almost all studies resulting in no discernible positive effect on cancer. Amygdalin was actually produced as a pharmaceutical substance under the name Laetrile®. However, the FDA did not approve this would-be drug, so it returned to near-obscurity.[1]

Argument for

Although the breakdown of amygdalin produces hydrogen cyanide, it only does so in the presence of beta glucosidase (or glucuronidase). In the human body, this substance is only available in places the enzyme rhodanese is also present. This enzyme immediately makes it easy for the body to break down the newly produced hydrogen cyanide, before it can cause any harm. The only place in the human body where beta glucosidase is present without rhodanese is cancer cells. In the end, amygdalin produces hydrogen cyanide which is easily broken down by all but cancer cells. The only hydrogen cyanide remaining is in the immediate presence of cancer, essentially poisoning it alone.[2]

Additionally, some say that amygdalin helps prevent high blood pressure and arthritis.[3]


  • The use of B17 has been endorsed by several public figures, including Kent Hovind[4]
  • Natural doctors still sometimes recommend this substance
  • A generally synthetic form of amygdalin goes by the brand name Laetrile®
  • Although not approved as a medication, "B-17" is still available to the public[5]