Almendra Amarga, Almendro Amargo, Amande Amère, Amandier Amer, Amandier à Fruits Amers, Amendoa Amarga, Amygdala Amara, Amygdalus communis var. amara, Amygdalus dulcis var. amara, Bitter Almond Oil, Bitter Almond Tree, Bittere Amandel, Bittere Mandel, Bittere Mandeln, Bittere-Amandelboom, Bittermandel, Bittermandelbaum, Bittermandeltræ, Bittermandeltraed, Huile d'Amande Volatile, Huile d'Amande Amère, Karvasmanteli, Mandorla Amara, Mandorlo Amaro, Mindal' Gor'kii, Prunus amygdalus var. amara, Prunus communis var. amara, Prunus dulcis var. amara, Semen Armeniacae Amarum, Volatile Almond Oil.


Overview Information

Almonds are a familiar type of nut. They can be sweet or bitter, depending on the type of tree that produces them. Sweet almond is produced from one type of almond tree (Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis) and does not contain poisonous chemicals. Bitter almond comes from a different type of almond tree (Prunus amygdalus var. amara) and does contain toxic chemicals.

People use bitter almond for conditions such as stretch marks, spasms, pain, and cough, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses. Using bitter almond can also be unsafe.

"Bitter almond" volatile oils can also be produced from other related fruit kernels including apricot (Prunus armeniaca), peach (Prunus persica), and plum (Prunus domestica). Similar to bitter almond, these volatile oils are considered poisonous.

How does it work?

There is not enough scientific information available to know how bitter almond might work for any medical condition. Bitter almond contains a poisonous chemical called hydrocyanic acid (HCN), which can cause serious side effects.


Uses & Effectiveness?

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Spasms.
  • Pain.
  • Cough.
  • Itch.
  • Stretch marks.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bitter almond for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

When taken by mouth: Do not take bitter almond by mouth. Bitter almond is LIKELY UNSAFE. It contains a poisonous chemical called hydrocyanic acid (HCN) that can cause serious side effects, such as slowing of the nervous system, breathing problems, and death.

When applied to the skin: There isn't enough reliable information to know if bitter almond is safe or what the side effects might be.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

It is LIKELY UNSAFE for anyone to use bitter almond, but some people have extra reasons not to use it:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It's LIKELY UNSAFE to take bitter almond by mouth if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. There isn't enough reliable information to know if bitter almond is safe when applied to the skin or what the side effects might be. Stay on the safe side and avoid any use of bitter almond.

Surgery: Bitter almond can slow down the nervous system. Anesthesia and other drugs used during surgery do this as well. Using bitter almond along with these medications can slow down the central nervous system too much. Stop using bitter almond at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.



Moderate Interaction

Be cautious with this combination

  • Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with BITTER ALMOND

    Bitter almond can be toxic and might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking bitter almond along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.
    Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.



The appropriate dose of bitter almond 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 bitter almond. 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


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  • Araya, E., Rodriguez, A., Rubio, J., Spada, A., Joglar, J., Llebaria, A., Lagunas, C., Fernandez, A. G., Spisani, S., and Perez, J. J. Synthesis and evaluation of diverse analogs of amygdalin as potential peptidomimetics of peptide T. Bioorg.Med Chem Lett. 3-1-2005;15(5):1493-1496. View abstract.
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  • Biaglow, J. E. and Durand, R. E. The enhanced radiation response of an in vitro tumour model by cyanide released from hydrolysed amygdalin. Int J Radiat Biol Relat Stud.Phys Chem Med 1978;33(4):397-401. View abstract.
  • Brown WE, Wood CD, and Smith AN. Sodium cyanide as a cancer chemotherapeutic agent: laboratory and clinical studies. Amer J Obstet Gyn 1960;80(5):907-918.
  • Gostomski FE. The effects of amygdalin on the Krebs-2 carcinoma in adult and fetal DUB (ICR) mice. Disseration Abstracts International 1978;39(5):2075-B.
  • Hill, G. J., Shine, T. E., Hill, H. Z., and Miller, C. Failure of amygdalin to arrest B16 melanoma and BW5147 AKR leukemia. Cancer Res 1976;36(6):2102-2107. View abstract.
  • Khandekar, J. D. and Edelman, H. Studies of amygdalin (laetrile) toxicity in rodents. JAMA 7-13-1979;242(2):169-171. View abstract.
  • Laster, W. R., Jr. and Schabel, F. M., Jr. Experimental studies of the antitumor activity of amygdalin MF (NSC- 15780) alone and in combination with beta-glucosidase (NSC-128056). Cancer Chemother Rep 1975;59(5):951-965. View abstract.
  • Lea, M. A. and Koch, M. R. Effects of cyanate, thiocyanate, and amygdalin on metabolite uptake in normal and neoplastic tissues of the rat. J Natl.Cancer Inst. 1979;63(5):1279-1283. View abstract.
  • Manner HW, DiSanti SJ, Maggio MI, and et al. Amygdalin, vitamin A and enzyme induced regression of murine mammary adenocarcinomas. J Manip Physiol Ther 1978;1(4):246-248.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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