Discover the 4 shocking benefits of laetrile or amygdalin.
In popular culture, laetrile or amygdalin is known as “vitamin B17.” However, it is not a B-complex vitamin. What is it used for?
Laetrile is also known as ‘amygdalin’ or ‘vitamin B17’. However, some experts disagree with the latter term, since it is a drug that contains purified amygdalin, which is extracted from the seeds of various plants that belong to the Amygdaloideae subfamily.
Specifically, and as compiled by a publication in the National Library of Medicine, it is obtained from raw nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit bones, such as plums, apricots, and apples.
Although medicinal properties are attributed to it, its use is controversial, due to the lack of solid evidence. What should you know about it?
Laetrile or amygdalin is the name of a drug created by Dr. Ernst T. Krebs Jr. in the 1950s. A review in the medical journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians comments that Krebs hypothesized that this substance could “Kill cancer cells.”
And although it became popular during the 1970s, it was banned in many states in the United States, as studies questioned its safety and efficacy.
It was even reported to cause a high risk of cyanide poisoning, which carries serious consequences.
Naturally, purified amygdalin is present in the following foods :
Seeds: millet, linseed, and buckwheat.
Raw nuts: bitter almonds, raw almonds, and macadamia nuts.
Vegetables: carrots, celery, bean sprouts, beans, among others.
Bones of apricots, cherries, pears, and plums.
However, although it is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is available in pill form or to receive intravenously or intramuscularly.
Many sites on the web post success stories with this treatment, but the truth is that it is not supported by science. In all cases, the risk of side effects is high.
The availability for intravenous application of laetrile is striking since it is not an approved drug.
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The best-known use of laetrile has to do with its alleged anticancer potential.
According to its advocates, its use contributes to the activation of a mechanism known as apoptosis, which is what allows inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
In the body, amygdalin breaks down into three substances: hydrogen cyanide, benzaldehyde, and prunasin.
According to a publication in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, hydrogen cyanide would be the main antitumor compound of laetrile.
In particular, three possible mechanisms of action have been suggested against this disease:
First, cancer cells were thought to contain enzymes that could transform amygdalin into cyanide.
In this way, it would stop the growth of cancer. However, the evidence overthrew this hypothesis.
It was also suggested that a deficiency of vitamin B17 (amygdalin) was associated with the development of cancer.
This was also denied since amygdalin is not a vitamin and it is not naturally present in the body either.
The latest hypothesis formulated that hydrogen cyanide could make cancer cells more acidic, leading to their death. Regarding this, studies found that the substance destroys both healthy and malignant cells.
To date, research remains limited as it has been done only in the laboratory and on animals.
Furthermore, the results are mixed and controversial. For now, it should not be considered as a treatment option to fight cancer.
Much of the studies on laetrile speak of its possible antitumor effects. Still, other research has determined that it might have other health benefits as well. However, it is not to be taken lightly, as the supporting evidence is quite weak.
Through the Journal of Al-Ma’moon College, it was reported that amygdalin helped lower systolic blood pressure by up to 28.5%.
Similarly, it reduced diastolic blood pressure by up to 25%. In this way, laetrile would act positively on cardiovascular health.
In the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, they indicate that amygdalin exerts an anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect.
Thus, it has managed to reduce the pain of conditions such as arthritis. Studies have been done in animals and human testing is necessary.
Laetrile is believed to have the ability to stimulate the functions of the immune system.
In research published in The Journal of Microbiology, Biotechnology, and Food Sciences, this substance improved the ability of immune cells to adhere to prostate cancer cells.
Several studies have been done on the anticancer effects of laetrile in recent years.
One of them, reported in the International Journal of Nanomedicine in 2020, determined that a combination of amygdalin with an enzyme called beta-glucosidase (ß-glu) helped kill prostate cancer cells.
The same year, Current Molecular Pharmacology reported that amygdalin can kill certain breast cancer cell lines and, in turn, prevent their spread throughout the body.
The most recent study was shared in March 2021 in the Journal of Biomolecular Structure & Dynamics, and it says that amygdalin induces apoptosis and has the potential as a multifunctional drug in cancer therapeutics. Still, the results are not considered conclusive