The following are a number of common myths and misconceptions involving apricot kernels and or amygdalin. Some of these misconceptions probably serve the apricot kernel cause well, but they've always troubled me and I feel it's necessary to correct them. The propagation of these misconceptions has the potential to cause someone harm.
Misconception: Apricot kernels contain arsenic.
Truth: Apricot kernels do not contain arsenic. This myth is the result of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Some apricot kernels are rich in a bound molecule called, 'Amygdalin'. This molecule contains one part dietary cyanide, which we believe to be essential to our total well-being. Our bodies naturally convert cyanide to another substance called, 'Thiocyanate'. Sickle cell anemia is a thiocyanate deficiency disease. Cyanide must therefore be a biologically rational dietary expectation. Our bodies have evolved to anticipate considerable quantities of cyanide within our diets.
Myth: Apricot kernel skins are poisonous.
Truth: This is a myth that has been going around for many, many years. Not sure where it started, but it possibly began with a misinformed chef or recipe. This is a case of broken telephone. The "poison" the skin is meant to contain is the cyanide the flesh of the kernel itself contains.
Myth: Apricot kernel oil contains B17 (amygdalin).
Truth: Whilst there may exist trace quantities of amygdalin within apricot kernel oil, amygdalin is actually bound to the flesh of apricot kernels. Amygdalin is commercially extracted from apricot kernels after the oil has been removed. This is why the oil lacks the characteristic bitterness and flavour of the seed itself.
Myth: Apricot kernels pose a major health risk. It's likely one would be poisoned if they were to consume apricot kernels.
Truth: Apricot kernels do contain cyanide, which is naturally found in many foods common to our diets. The ingestion of irrational quantities of any of these foods will result in a level of amygdalin the body is unable to safely metabolize. All foods contain substances that are potentially harmful in excessive quantities. If apricot kernels are used sensibly and within accordance of the quantities established for safe consumption, they pose no threat. Too much of anything can cause problems. In contrast to the highly toxic treatments being used in conventional medicine, apricot kernels are relatively safe.
Myth: The active component of apricot kernels, amygdalin (vitamin B17), has been proven ineffective in the treatment or prevention of cancer.
Truth: Apricot kernels suffer from pariah syndrome. They've been outcast and overlooked as a result of being confused with studies involving Laetrile. The efficacy of amygdalin has been proven many times, but these scientists and medical professionals were vilified and discounted. It has been openly recognized by once well-respected scientists around the globe and continues to be used successfully by several international clinics. This information has been ignored, if not suppressed, and the reputations of those who acknowledge its potential have been attacked and smeared in an effort to silence or belittle their conclusions. This has been well-documented and a search with our good friends, Google, will yield no shortage of interesting reading material. Scientific evidence aside, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. In my opinion, anecdotal evidence can have greater significance than scientific data, which seems very often biased in favor of an agenda.
I am unaware of any studies that involve the use of apricot kernels as the sole source of amygdalin. In my opinion, a suitable apricot kernel is adequate for the therapeutic benefit of amygdalin. The unfavorable studies that exist involve Laetrile, derived from apricot kernels. Whole nutritional substances work on different levels, the inherent constituents working together synergistically. This is why a Laetrile treatment protocol must always include apricot kernels.
Myth: Non-organic apricot kernels contain pesticides and are therefore inferior.
Truth: This myth was started by a seller of organic apricot kernels - likely to justify the extraordinary price discrepancy and create a perception of superiority. An apricot kernel can be very poor quality whether it is organic or not. Amygdalin content and freshness are the defining characteristics of a quality apricot kernel and nothing more. The hard shell of an apricot kernel is exceptionally dense and thick, which protects the kernel 100% from chemical sprays and treatments. Additionally, it resides within the center of the fruit. Rancid oil, on the other hand, be it organic rancid oil or conventional rancid oil, is a much greater concern than trace pesticides. Rancid oils are carcinogenic, so be sure to choose a fresh source of apricot kernels, organic or otherwise. Imported nuts and seeds are likely to be rancid or well on their way.
Myth: Apricot kernels are highly susceptible to aflatoxins.
Truth: The concern regarding aflatoxins is nothing more than a fear campaign started by an opportunistic supplier of apricot kernels in Australia. This mass-producer is an exporter of apricot kernels to the confectionery industry in the U.S.. Apricot kernels are used in the manufacture of marzipan and persipan. U.S. import laws require incoming commodities to be tested for aflatoxin. This exporter saw an opportunity to scare people away from purchasing other apricot kernels on the market. This myth has rippled across the internet and created yet another misconception to be unjustifiably concerned about.
Myth: The amygdalin molecule is liberated only in the presence of cancerous tissue.
Truth: This myth incorporates a couple misconceptions. The amygdalin molecule is unlocked by an enzyme called beta-glucosidase. The first misconception is that this enzyme is found exclusively within cancerous tissue. Beta-glucosidase is found throughout the body, within healthy and cancerous tissue. Furthermore - apricot kernels themselves contain a beta-glucosidase in the form of amygdalase. With this inherent catalyst, the amygdalin molecule is actually liberated within the mouth through chewing in the presence of saliva. The bitterness you taste is, in fact, cyanide. The marzipan-like flavor is one of the other three liberated constituents, 'benzaldehyde'. The third constituent is glucose. Benzaldehyde is the food chemical that gives marzipan its familiar flavor and is the very reason apricot kernels are now used in its production. Marzipan was once manufactured using bitter almonds, which are no longer commercially available. Bitter almonds are almost chemically identical to bitter apricot kernels.
Unfortunately, it looks as though this misconception was started by Philip Binzel.
When Laetrile comes in contact with the enzyme beta-glucosidase, the Laetrile is broken down to form two molecules of glucose, one molecule of benzaldehyde and one molecule of hydrogen cyanide (HCN). Within the body, the cancer cell-and only the cancer cell-contains that enzyme. The key word here is that the HCN must be FORMED. It is not floating around freely in the Laetrile and then released. It must be manufactured. The enzyme beta-glucosidase, and only that enzyme, is capable of manufacturing the HCN from Laetrile. If there are no cancer cells in the body, there is no beta-glucosidase. If there is no beta-glucosidase, no HCN will be formed from the Laetrile.
Philip Binzel was referring specifically to Laetrile when he made this statement, but many have taken it to include apricot kernels. Though we know this statement about beta-glucosidase is wrong, it is correct that the molecule isn't liberated until it comes into contact with one of a number of similar enzymes. I'd like to add that, though Binzel was incorrect regarding this enzyme, his contribution in the metabolic therapy cause remains valuable. However, we must stop this misconception from continuing to propagate, as it ultimately damages the cause. People continue to use this misunderstanding of amygdalin metabolism in their promotions of metabolic therapy.
This misconception has the potential to cause harm where apricot kernels are concerned. Read my post about safe dosage and be sure to use apricot kernels responsibly.