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The Laetrile Saga, Part I: Cancer Treatment and Prevention

Friday, May 30, 2008 by: Mary Laredo
Tags: Laetrile, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Laetrile, also known as amygdaline or vitamin B17, is found in the food supply and occurs naturally in at least 1200 different plants, including apricots, peaches, apple seeds, lentils, cashews, brown rice, millet, and alfalfa. Commercial preparations of laetrile are obtained from the kernels of apricots, peaches and bitter almonds. In fact, its active ingredient - amygdaline - comes from the Greek word for almond: amygdale.

For many centuries laetrile has been used to treat cancer and other diseases. In his book, The Cancer Industry, Ralph Moss, PhD cites its medicinal use throughout history:

"Laetrile's use in medicine dates from the time of the great herbal of China, credited to the legendary culture hero Emperor Shen Nung (1st-2nd century A.D.), which is said to list kernel preparations useful against tumors. Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Arabic physicians were all familiar with the biologic properties of bitter almond water... Pliny the Elder, Marcellus Empiricus, and Avicenna all used preparations containing laetrile to treat tumors. The same is true of the medieval pharmacopoeia" (1).

Laetrile's endurance to this day as a cancer therapy and preventative is notable, especially considering the cancer industry's great effort to discredit its value. The controversy will be covered in part two of this report.

Laetrile, when spelled with a capital "L", refers to a concentrated extract of amygdaline derived specifically from apricot pits, as developed by Dr. Ernst Krebs Jr., who pioneered its modern use in cancer therapy in the late 1940s and coined its name. Since that time other commercial forms of amygdaline have been developed - collectively known as laetrile, with a small "l". The various forms of amygdaline are all derived from plant sources containing natural substances that release hydrogen cyanide when certain bodily conditions are met.

The body requires an enzyme called beta-glucosidase in order to process laetrile and release the cyanide. Studies have shown that cancer cells contain more of this enzyme than normal cells, which allows for a higher release of cyanide at tumor sites.

Another enzyme known as rhodanese is important in this process. Normal healthy cells contain rhodanese which protects them from the activated cyanide. Most cancer cells are deficient in this enzyme, leaving them vulnerable to the poison. Tumor destruction begins once the cyanide is released within the malignancies, meaning laetrile therapy is selectively toxic to cancer cells while remaining non-toxic to normal cells.

Benzaldehyde - a known painkiller - is also released during the breakdown of laetrile, and may account for the analgesic benefits reported from its use. Some scientists believe that this substance is also an anticancer agent (1).

Countless case studies, as well as this author's own use for nearly two years, have shown laetrile to be non-toxic and effective in controlling cancer; however, proponents of the substance do not consider it to be a stand-alone treatment. Laetrile is but one component of a comprehensive holistic protocol that includes enzymes, nutritional therapy with little or no animal protein, and cleansing of bodily toxins.


Early doses used in research were tentative and cautious, often as low as fifty to one hundred milligrams per dosage. By 1974 however, daily intravenous doses of six to nine grams became the standard treatment. Improvement was generally seen with an accumulation of fifty to seventy grams over a seven to ten day period.

Patients seeking treatments have had to travel to Mexico or Germany since the FDA banned the sale and use of laetrile in 1971, for reasons that will become clear in the second part of this report. This author traveled to the Oasis of Hope Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico for alternative cancer treatments that included nine grams of intravenous laetrile for eighteen straight days. Follow-up home treatment included daily oral doses of two grams and an intramuscular injection of three grams, administered three times per week. Sustaining this protocol required multiple trips to Mexico at six-month intervals since the U.S. will only allow an individual to bring a six-month supply of treatments with a written prescription.

This regimen became increasingly disruptive and ultimately cost-prohibitive; however, it was an important component of my holistic protocol for more than eighteen months, during which time the cancer gradually receded. I continue to derive the benefits of laetrile from raw whole food sources, including an abundance of fruits, seeds, and sprouted grains. It's important to note that cooking does not destroy the amygdaline.

Sources of Laetrile

In addition to whole foods, laetrile can be obtained through oral supplements found from many online sources. These supplements include dosage recommendations. Apricot kernels are available at most health food stores, although it's difficult to ingest these bitter seeds. To make them palatable they may be ground and added to other foods as a seasoning. For a comprehensive list of foods containing amygdaline and clinics where intravenous treatments may be available visit (http://home.bluegrass.net/~jclark/doctors_cl...) .

Part two of this report will cover the opposition, oppression and medical deception surrounding the use of laetrile in the treatment of cancer.


Moss, Ph.D., Ralph W.: The Cancer Industry. State College, PA: Equinox Press, 1999, pg. 132; pp. 140-1

About the author

Mary Laredo is an artist, educator and gallery curator who lives and works in Detroit, MI. As a breast cancer survivor who shunned conventional treatment, she is writing a book about her experience with natural therapies and nutritional healing. Visit http://marylaredo.blogspot.com

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