Laetrile is promoted as an alternative treatment against cancer. There is not enough reliable evidence that it works.
What is laetrile
Laetrile is a partly artificial (synthetic) form of the natural amygdalin substance. The amygdala is a vegetable substance found in raw nuts, bitter almonds, and apricot and cherry seeds. Plants such as beans, clover and sorghum also contain amygdalin.
Some people call laetrile vitamin B17, although it is not a vitamin.
Why do people with cancer use it?
Laetrile has been used as an anticancer agent since the 1800s. It is used alone or as part of a program. This could include following a particular diet, high-dose vitamin supplements and pancreatic enzymes.
Although, more recent studies have shown that laetrile can kill cancer cells in certain types of cancer, there is not enough reliable scientific evidence to show that laetrile or amygdalin can treat cancer. Despite this, it is still promoted as an alternative treatment against cancer.
People who use laetrile believe they could:
- Improve your health, energy levels, and well-being.
- Detoxify and cleanse the body
- Help them live longer
How do you have it
Laetrile is available as:
- an injection (intravenously)
- lotions for the skin
- A liquid to put in the posterior passage (rectum).
Taking laetrile as tablets has more side effects than having it as an injection. This is because our digestive system breaks down laetrile and releases cyanide. Cyanide is a type of poison.
Laetrile contains cyanide. So the side effects of laetrile are the same as those of cyanide. These include:
- Hepatic injury
- drooping eyelids
- Lack of oxygen in body tissues.
- a drop in blood pressure
- Damage to the nerves, causing loss of balance and difficulty walking.
- Confusion, coma and eventually death.
Avoid eating other foods that contain amygdalin if you take laetrile tablets. This may include foods such as:
- raw almonds
- bean sprouts
- Beans – mung, lime, butter and other legumes
- Flax seed
- high doses of vitamin c
- Crushed fruit stones or nuggets
These foods are safe to eat when you are not taking laetrile because the levels of amygdalin in them are low. Laetrile can cause more damage to your liver if you have liver problems.
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