Amygdalin is a naturally occurring chemical substance that has been widely misrepresented as a cancer treatment. It can be found in the seeds (kernels) of apricots, bitter almonds, apples, peaches, and plums, among other plants.

Both amygdalin and a chemical derivative known as laetrile have been marketed as alternative cancer therapies since the early 1950s, typically under the misnomer vitamin B17 (neither amygdalin nor laetrile is a vitamin).  According to scientific research, they are clinically useless in the treatment of cancer, as well as potentially hazardous or fatal when taken by mouth owing to cyanide poisoning.

A few common names for Amygdalin are: 

  • Apricot pits
  • Vitamin B17
  • Mandelonitrile-beta-glucuronide (semi-synthetic)
  • Mandelonitrile beta-D-gentiobioside (natural product)
  • Laevorotatory and mandelonitrile
  • Prunasin

The plant extract is produced from apricot pits. It may be broken down into cyanide, a recognised toxin, by enzymes in the gut. It was originally utilised as an alternative cancer therapy in Europe and then in the United States. The cyanide produced by amygdalin, according to proponents, selectively destroyed cancer cells while leaving normal tissue cells untouched.

Amygdalin did not eliminate the size of tumors or limit their growth when given to experimental animals with cancer cells implanted in them. In a clinical trial, cancer patients who took amygdalin had no advantages, although several experienced cyanide poisoning.

Clinical data does not support its usage, despite the fact that laboratory tests show anticancer effects. Amygdalin (Laetrile) has been related to cyanide poisoning in cancer patients in many occasions. 

Amygdalin is converted to hydrogen cyanide after intake, therefore it can induce cyanide poisoning if consumed in large amounts. Before vomiting was induced at the emergency room, a total of 48 apricot kernels were consumed, resulting in violent vomiting, headache, flushing, intense sweating, dizziness, and faintness. Another incidence of unintentional poisoning resulted in death.

Following therapy with laetrile, a 67-year-old lady with lymphoma developed a neuromyopathy. She exhibited high thiocyanate and cyanide levels in her blood and urine.

Amygdalin is used to produce laetrile, a chemical that has been touted as a cancer therapy despite no proof of its safety or efficacy. Although amygdalin and laetrile are commonly referred to as “vitamin B17,” they are not B vitamins. Laetrile supporters frequently say that it is an excellent natural cancer therapy that also helps to prevent excessive blood pressure and arthritis. Again, there is insufficient scientific data to back up these claims.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized laetrile as a cancer or other medical condition therapy.


Although amygdalin shows anti-cancer properties it is not approved for the treatment during cancer. It has toxic effects and can lead to many side effects.