Apricot Kernel

Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Amandes d'Abricot, Amygdalin, Amygdaline, Amygdaloside, Amygdalus armeniaca, Apricot Almonds, Apricot Kernel Oil, Apricot Seed, Armeniaca vulgaris, Bitter Almonds, Bitter Apricot Kernel, Chinese Almond, Graine d'Abricot, Hueso de Albaricoque, Hueso de Albaricoque de Damasco, Huile de Noyau d'Abricot, Laetrile, Laétrile, Madelonitrile, Noyau d'Abricot, Prunus armeniaca, Prunus Kernel, Vitamin B17, Vitamine B17, Xing Ren.


Apricot kernel is the inner part of the seed of the apricot fruit. The kernel is used to produce oil and other chemicals used for medicinal purposes.

Despite serious safety concerns, apricot kernel is used for treating cancer. It is taken by mouth or given as an injection.

How does it work?

Apricot kernel contains a toxic chemical known as amygdalin. In the body this chemical is converted to cyanide, which is poisonous. There was interest in using apricot kernel to fight cancer because it was thought that amygdalin was taken up first by cancer cells and converted to cyanide. It was hoped that the cyanide would harm only the tumor. But research has shown that this is not true. The amygdalin is actually converted to cyanide in the stomach. The cyanide then goes throughout the body, where it can cause serious harm, including death.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Cancer. Taking apricot kernel or amygdaline (Laetrile), the active chemical in apricot kernel, by mouth does not seem to be effective for treating cancer.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Apricot kernel is LIKELY UNSAFE to take by mouth or to use intravenously (by IV). It contains a toxic chemical known as amygdalin. In the body this chemical is converted to cyanide which can cause serious side effects, including death.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Apricot kernel is LIKELY UNSAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when taken by mouth.


The appropriate dose of apricot kernel depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for apricot kernel. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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