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.


Overview Information

Apricot kernel is the hard stone or pit found inside apricots. The kernel is used to produce oil and other chemicals used for medicinal purposes.

Apricot kernel is commonly taken by mouth or given as an injection into the veins for treating cancer. But research shows that apricot kernel is not safe to use and does not seem to help treat cancer.

Apricot kernel extract is used as a flavoring in liqueur.

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.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Cancer. Taking apricot kernel or amygdalin (laetrile), a chemical in apricot kernel, by mouth does not seem to help treat cancer.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of apricot kernel for its other uses.
Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Apricot kernel is LIKELY UNSAFE to take by mouth. It contains a toxic chemical known as amygdalin. In the body, this chemical is converted to cyanide, which can cause serious side effects, including seizures, breathing problems, or even death.

When given by IV: Apricot kernel is LIKELY UNSAFE as an injection into the veins (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 seizures, breathing problems, or even death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Apricot kernel is LIKELY UNSAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women when taken by mouth. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.



We currently have no information for APRICOT KERNEL Interactions.



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.

View References


  • Ames, M. M., Moyer, T. P., Kovach, J. S., Moertel, C. G., and Rubin, J. Pharmacology of amygdalin (laetrile) in cancer patients. Cancer Chemother.Pharmacol 1981;6(1):51-57. View abstract.
  • Chandeler, R. F. et al. Laetrile in Perspective. Can Pharm J 1984;117:517.
  • Davignon, J. P., Trissel, L. A., and Kleinman, L. M. Pharmaceutical assessment of amygdalin (Laetrile) products. Cancer Treat.Rep. 1978;62(1):99-104. View abstract.
  • Greenberg, D. M. The case against laetrile: the fraudulent cancer remedy. Cancer 2-15-1980;45(4):799-807. View abstract.
  • Milazzo, S., Ernst, E., Lejeune, S., and Schmidt, K. Laetrile treatment for cancer. Cochrane.Database.Syst.Rev 2006;(2):CD005476. View abstract.
  • Milazzo, S., Lejeune, S., and Ernst, E. Laetrile for cancer: a systematic review of the clinical evidence. Support.Care Cancer 2007;15(6):583-595. View abstract.
  • Moertel, C. G., Ames, M. M., Kovach, J. S., Moyer, T. P., Rubin, J. R., and Tinker, J. H. A pharmacologic and toxicological study of amygdalin. JAMA 2-13-1981;245(6):591-594. View abstract.
  • Moertel, C. G., Fleming, T. R., Rubin, J., Kvols, L. K., Sarna, G., Koch, R., Currie, V. E., Young, C. W., Jones, S. E., and Davignon, J. P. A clinical trial of amygdalin (Laetrile) in the treatment of human cancer. N.Engl.J.Med. 1-28-1982;306(4):201-206. View abstract.
  • Osterberg, S. [Dangerous to eat: apricot seed preparation]. Lakartidningen 9-27-1978;75(39):3438. View abstract.
  • Rauws, A. G., Olling, M., and Timmerman, A. The pharmacokinetics of amygdalin. Arch Toxicol. 1982;49(3-4):311-319. View abstract.
  • Rauws, A. G., Olling, M., and Timmerman, A. The pharmacokinetics of prunasin, a metabolite of amygdalin. J Toxicol.Clin Toxicol. 1982;19(8):851-856. View abstract.
  • Rubino, M. J. and Davidoff, F. Cyanide poisoning from apricot seeds. JAMA 1-26-1979;241(4):359. View abstract.
  • Sadoff, L., Fuchs, K., and Hollander, J. Rapid death associated with laetrile ingestion. JAMA 4-14-1978;239(15):1532. View abstract.
  • Suchard, J. R., Wallace, K. L., and Gerkin, R. D. Acute cyanide toxicity caused by apricot kernel ingestion. Ann.Emerg.Med. 1998;32(6):742-744. View abstract.
  • Tlirnoveanu, C., Popescu, E., Negulescu, I., Georgescu, M. I., Cighir, R., Calarasu, M., and Azzola, M. [Study of acute poisonings with cyanogenetic substances (apricot seed kernels)]. Rev.Pediatr.Obstet.Ginecol.Pediatr. 1982;31(3):249-252. View abstract.
  • Unproven methods of cancer management. Laetrile. CA Cancer J Clin 1991;41(3):187-192. View abstract.
  • Anon. FDA takes action against firms marketing unapproved drugs. FDA. 2000. https://web.archive.org/web/20001017134529/https://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/ANS01032.html
  • Anon. Laetrile (Amygdalin, other Names). FDA. 1987. Available at: www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_167.html.
  • Anon. Postscript on laetrile. FDA. 1987. Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/19970506021729/https://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/ANS00309.html
  • Chaouali N, Gana I, Dorra A, et al. Potential toxic levels of cyanide in almonds (Prunus amygdalus), apricot kernels (Prunus armeniaca), and almond syrup. ISRN Toxicol. 2013;2013:610648. View abstract.
  • Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. Title 21. Part 182 -- Substances Generally Recognized As Safe. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=182
  • Konstantatos A, Shiv Kumar M, Burrell A, Smith J. An unusual presentation of chronic cyanide toxicity from self-prescribed apricot kernel extract. BMJ Case Rep. 2017;2017. View abstract.
  • Krebs ET Jr. The nitrilosides (vitamin B-17)-their nature, occurrence and metabolic significance (antineoplastic vitamin B-17). Journ Appl Nutr 1970;22(3 and 4):75-8.
  • Poisonous Plant Database. FDA. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/plantox/detail.cfm?id=15436.
  • Seghers L, Walenbergh-van Veen M, Salome J, Hamberg P. Cyanide intoxication by apricot kernel ingestion as complimentary cancer therapy. Neth J Med 2013;71(9):496-8. View abstract.

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