The posts created within this blog are my opinions or those of other proponents of apricot kernels and their use therapeutically. Though I endeavor to write nothing that isn't factual, I am not a scientist nor am I doctor. My writings are based on many years of experience, observation and research, and the conclusions drawn are my own. I want to stress the importance of having the advice and guidance of a practiced and experienced healthcare professional. You should only take my writings into consideration in the course of arriving at your own conclusions following extensive research. Research is essential in a proactive approach to well-being. You should feel well-informed and empowered before making any decisions about your health.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Apricot Kernels - For Doctors and Skeptics

First of all - who am I? I am nothing more than a retired vendor of apricot kernels of many years with a passion for health through nutrition. My experience is based on my dealings with people who have purchased apricot kernels from me and from many others, all over the world. I've supplied apricot kernels to people you might think of as your colleagues and peers. Not just medical professionals, but scientists, members of the regulatory authorities, members of parliament, members of law and other government agencies, celebrities, both film and sport, etc.. I've supplied apricot kernels to all manner of individuals. I mention this to set aside the notion that it is only oddballs, tree huggers or the pathologically gullible who purchase apricot kernels.

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A broad selection of people claim to experience therapeutic benefit from the use of apricot kernels, which is why they are ever-increasingly popular. If people weren't experiencing benefit from their use, this whole issue would fizzle out and we'd be having a different conversation. On the flip-side, I acknowledge there must also be a considerable number who experience no benefit at all. In my opinion, there are logical explanations for the experiences of some within this segment.

For the sake of your own contemplation, let's just suppose that these people, in the benefits category, are experiencing nothing more than a placebo phenomenon. We might even suppose, for your benefit, that 70% of them are liars. You're probably thinking that 70% is too conservative, so let's suppose that an additional 20% are crazy. That leaves us with just 10% who might be reporting reliably. 10% of a large number is still a significant number that shouldn't be ignored. In fact, many of your colleagues have even started to ponder the notion that there might just be something to these bitter, little seeds. I'm aware of many people who have purchased apricot kernels on the advice of their own medical carers.

Could an unusually consistent placebo effect justify the use of a substance? Are household pets and farm animals susceptible to placebo? Bearing in mind that there are many thousands of people using apricot kernels regularly, has there been a verifiable fatality? What percentage of your patients are succumbing to the treatments they've been prescribed - not to their cancers, but to their treatments? These are all good questions.

I'll ask you to consider the reasons some of you are so bitterly opposed to the use of apricot kernels in one's approach to overcoming their cancer. I've had this discussion with several of you over the years, but I thought this might be an opportunity to extend the concept to a greater number. Not to engage in a battle of wits or knowledge of biology, as I don't claim to have your education, but to ponder some ideas and preconceived notions that may or may not be justified.

The following seem to be the 4 key reasons the bulk of you are so dismissive and scathing of the use of apricot kernels.  

Reason number one - in your opinions, there is a complete lack of peer-reviewed evidence to justify their use.  

Reason number two - your understanding of apricot kernels is that they release hydrocyanic acid upon metabolism, which you know to be a dangerous poison that has the potential to cause harm or even death.

Reason number three - most of you equate the use of apricot kernels with the use of Laetrile, and as far as you're concerned, Laetrile was long ago debunked. It's a closed case.  

Reason number four - most of you seem to have the belief that those who employ apricot kernels in their efforts to overcome their disease have opted out of conventionally prescribed, "proven" treatments.

Though I'm not claiming an intentional conspiracy, I do want to suggest that you've succumbed to someone's unjustified propaganda.

I'm not a Doctor, nor a scientist. I am a skeptic, but not where apricot kernels are concerned. At least, not where an amygdalin-rich specimen is being used. I'd like to talk about my own observations in an honest, open manner. I'm not interested fabricating tales, propagating conspiracy theories or promoting someone's product. I'd simply like to share observations that have been made over many years of interaction with people who have chosen to use apricot kernels in an effort to overcome their conditions. I'll first address the above 4 reasons from my perspective.

Reason number one - you're correct in one regard. There is a complete lack of peer-reviewed evidence to support the medical prescription of apricot kernels. In your world, the prescription of a substance can only be justified by the consensus of your peers following an adequate collection of empirical evidence to support its use. Most of you are so firmly set in this methodology, you're entirely unwilling to ascribe a morsel of value to anecdotal evidence, despite its overwhelming presence. You're not prepared to consider that, even if only a small fraction of these anecdotes are reliable, they represent justifiable cause to take serious note.

Interestingly, for those of us who have been immersed in this concept for some time, reports of therapeutic benefit to domestic animals, both farm and household, are not at all uncommon. For as long as apricot kernels have been used amongst the human population, they've also been given to pets and livestock to treat similar conditions, and with seemingly equal success. I've had dealings with many individuals who had procured apricot kernels on the advice of their veterinary doctors.

Reason number two - apricot kernels contain amygdalin, which is, of course, comprised of a molecule of HCN (hydrocyanic acid), a molecule of benzaldehyde (the chemical used to flavor marzipan) and two molecules of glucose. According to theoretical data and understanding about the toxicology of cyanide, you've made the assumption that any substance containing cyanic compounds must be dangerous. You've not given consideration to the natural expectation our bodies have of cyanogenic glycosides and the natural mechanisms employed to utilize and metabolize their constituents within biologically rational values. Nor has consideration been given to the adaptability of our bodies and the flexible capacity to process larger and larger quantities safely and without adverse reaction as experiential expectations increase. This natural ability, of course, must be factored into the equation - into one's susceptibility to intoxication. This is never an acknowledged factor in the cautionary propaganda.

The fact of the matter is, hundreds of thousands of people have used apricot kernels over decades without experiencing adverse reactions of a serious nature. They've used apricot kernels in quantities that far exceed the values being pushed forward as dangerous, if not lethal. This screaming discrepancy lends itself to conspiracy theory. These values given to the public represent an unlikely individual that bears little resemblance to the majority of users, which creates a scenario of confusion and disbelief.

You will likely argue that many people have, indeed, brought themselves to hospital with reports of side-effects from the consumption of apricot kernels. I will argue that not one of those people have EVER died as a result of cyanide toxicity. There is not one verifiable, documented case of a fatality resulting from the ingestion of apricot kernels. This is a fact that should surprise any of you vaguely familiar with the apricot kernel controversy. I ask that you allow your minds to wander and consider the hundreds of substances readily available, and prescribed, that result in death on a regular basis. The mild side-effects experienced by users of apricot kernels don't represent a danger to their lives. If one considers the very poor states of health many users of apricot kernels suffer, you'd think it wouldn't take much to tip them over. In cases of acute toxicity, the antidote is 100% effective.

Reason number three - Laetrile is, in fact, derived from apricot kernels. Most people familiar with this topic are aware of this. I don't want to discuss Laetrile here, but I suppose it must be touched on briefly for the sake of distinguishing the differences between the two substances.

What is Laetrile? There's significant confusion that has arisen through the improper use of terminology in this debate. The term, 'Laetrile', is often wrongly used interchangeably with the terms, 'Amygdalin', and, "Vitamin B17".

Laetrile was a patented, semi-synthetic compound derived from amygdalin. In its original form, it shared only part of amygdalin's molecular structure. Most of the laetrile (as opposed to Laetrile) available today is, in fact, amygdalin, usually extracted from apricot kernels. This is the link between laetrile and apricot kernels. Some of the studies done have used amygdalin extracted from peach kernels, but it is chemically identical regardless of its source. "Vitamin B17" was a term coined by Ernst Krebs Junior, a biochemist largely responsible for the fame of this very substance. "Vitamin B17" is simply amygdalin. It was the theory of Krebs that amygdalin was an essential dietary expectation and, thus, appropriately classed the 17th of the B vitamins. He and his father were also responsible for the controversial naming of "Vitamin B15" or, 'Pangamic Acid'. Both substances are contained within apricot kernels and other nitrilosides.

I have very little experience with people who have used Laetrile or an apricot kernel extraction of any of the varieties available in an ongoing, long-term protocol. I can't rightfully comment in either direction based on personal experience. I will say, however - and this is contrary to popular understanding - even the NCI (National Cancer Institute) acknowledges the following

No controlled clinical trial of laetrile has ever been conducted.

Taking this into consideration, the scathing contempt so many of you hold for those who would dare suggest that Laetrile is worthy of a closer look seems rather unjustified.

However, this entry and its parent blog is, for the most part, about apricot kernels as a separate entity to Laetrile. To my knowledge, no study has ever been conducted that looks at apricot kernels as a therapeutic substance in their whole-food form. Incidentally, it was the belief of Krebs that it was in this form that amygdalin had its greatest potential.

Reason number 4 - very few people who use apricot kernels opt out of conventional treatment. The vast majority are either using them as an adjunct or they've been given no hope by their doctors and have sought them out in a bid for their lives. That people are opting out of "proven" treatments for apricot kernels is simply not true in the majority of cases.

I am, of course, aware that there are people who opt out of conventional treatment in favor of a metabolic protocol that involves laetrile, and I don't blame them at all. There is fair reason to feel hopeful of their outcomes, but more importantly, I think many of these people simply want to preserve a quality of life for however much longer they have to enjoy it. Conventional therapies strip people of their quality of life for a slim hope of recovery. You can't blame someone for wanting to avoid this scenario, nor practitioners wanting to provide an alternative to those seeking one. That aside, and though apricot kernels are a component of these metabolic protocols, most people using them are not amongst this group opting out of conventional therapies.

The most vocal amongst you talk about the cost of the metabolic protocols as though they are outrageously expensive. But I must point out that their costs don't even begin to approach those of conventional treatment, so I fail to see how a cost comparison provides you any leverage in your arguments. Statistical extension of life doesn't appear to. What is the argument?

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This is the reality - a fair percentage of those who use apricot kernels attribute an improvement in their conditions to the use of apricot kernels. Not only do they claim an improved condition, but also relief from pain and discomfort, a return of appetite, an increase in weight, a lowering of blood pressure and a general improvement in energy and a sense of well-being.

For the sake of argument, let's say that all of these experiences represent a placebo effect. Does that matter? In almost a complete absence of evidence for serious harm, apricot kernels not only seem to be an unusually consistent placebo, they also provide hope where hope is almost nonexistent. Does it matter that apricot kernels lack scientific evidence of efficacy? The studies have never been done. Until they've been conclusively proven worthless, why do you care that people use apricot kernels in an effort to gain control of their health? The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. We should continue to seriously explore the reasons people appear to be benefiting from their use.

We are natural creatures living a not-so-natural existence. If we don't stray too far from our biological expectations of whole foods and activity, providing our bodies with a broad selection of quality nutrients will keep them running well and healthy. When wounds are acquired, bones are broken, or we're inundated by microbial infections, the body makes use of the nutrients we provide to heal itself. This is a remarkable and seemingly miraculous ability. Without it, few of us would live past the age of 3. Those who did would be limping along with infected sores, open wounds and broken limbs. Without the aid of any doctor or health practitioner of any modality, our bodies will naturally recover from most conditions. As a species, we've managed to survive without "modern medicine" a fair while. Suddenly, in the presence of modern medicine, we're led to believe we can no longer take care of ourselves.

We have strayed from our biological expectations and we do sometimes require a helping hand or a nudge in the right direction. Our bodies have evolved to expect all that they require from the natural environments we're meant to live within. Amygdalin is processed by systems within our bodies that have evolved to anticipate similar, natural compounds. It makes use of these external factors to address internal scenarios. These compounds and elements comprise the many known vitamins, minerals and other nutrients our bodies have evolved to receive. The expectation is one of whole, natural substances - not their individual components, or foreign compounds for which they have no frame of reference. However, science seems entirely unwilling to acknowledge that we can even overcome cancers and other serious conditions without the use of unnatural chemicals or processes. It stands to reason that any natural condition we are confronted with can only be overcome through biologically rational factors. To argue that we understand nature and its own processes better than nature itself is egotistical and dangerous.