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Laetrile/Amygdalin (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information


Laetrile can be administered orally as a pill, or it can be given by injection (intravenous or intramuscular). It is commonly given intravenously over a period of time followed by oral maintenance therapy. The incidence of cyanide poisoning is much higher when laetrile is taken orally [21] Reviewed in [22,23] because intestinal bacteria and some commonly eaten plants contain enzymes (beta-glucosidases) that activate the release of cyanide after laetrile has been ingested. Reviewed in [17,22] Relatively little breakdown to yield cyanide occurs when laetrile is injected. Reviewed in [7,22] Administration schedules and the length of treatment in animal models and humans vary widely.


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  5. The laetrile controversy. In: Moss RW: The Cancer Industry: The Classic Expose on the Cancer Establishment. Brooklyn, NY: First Equinox Press, 1996, pp 131-52.
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  8. Ellison NM, Byar DP, Newell GR: Special report on Laetrile: the NCI Laetrile Review. Results of the National Cancer Institute's retrospective Laetrile analysis. N Engl J Med 299 (10): 549-52, 1978.
  9. Moertel CG, Fleming TR, Rubin J, et al.: A clinical trial of amygdalin (Laetrile) in the treatment of human cancer. N Engl J Med 306 (4): 201-6, 1982.
  10. Ross WE: Unconventional cancer therapy. Compr Ther 11 (9): 37-43, 1985.
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  13. Rosen GM, Shorr RI: Laetrile: end play around the FDA. A review of legal developments. Ann Intern Med 90 (3): 418-23, 1979.
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  15. Fenselau C, Pallante S, Batzinger RP, et al.: Mandelonitrile beta-glucuronide: synthesis and characterization. Science 198 (4317): 625-7, 1977.
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  17. Newmark J, Brady RO, Grimley PM, et al.: Amygdalin (Laetrile) and prunasin beta-glucosidases: distribution in germ-free rat and in human tumor tissue. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 78 (10): 6513-6, 1981.
  18. Rauws AG, Olling M, Timmerman A: The pharmacokinetics of prunasin, a metabolite of amygdalin. J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 19 (8): 851-6, 1982.
  19. Kochi M, Takeuchi S, Mizutani T, et al.: Antitumor activity of benzaldehyde. Cancer Treat Rep 64 (1): 21-3, 1980.
  20. Kochi M, Isono N, Niwayama M, et al.: Antitumor activity of a benzaldehyde derivative. Cancer Treat Rep 69 (5): 533-7, 1985.
  21. Gostomski FE: The effects of amygdalin on the Krebs-2 carcinoma and adult and fetal DUB(ICR) mice. [Abstract] Diss Abstr Int B 39 (5): 2075-B, 1978.
  22. Herbert V: Laetrile: the cult of cyanide. Promoting poison for profit. Am J Clin Nutr 32 (5): 1121-58, 1979.
  23. Viehoever A, Mack H: Bio-chemistry of amygdalin (bitter, cyanogenetic principle from bitter almonds). Am J Pharm 107(Oct): 397-450, 1935.

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Last Updated: February 25, 2014
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