Laetrile is a partly man made (synthetic) form of the natural substance Amygdalin and has been used as a treatment for people with cancer worldwide. The term “laetrile” comes from 2 words (laevorotatory and mandelonitrile) and is used to describe a purified form of the chemical amygdalin. Amygdalin is a plant compound that contains sugar and produces cyanide. Cyanide is believed to be the active cancer-killing ingredient in laetrile.
Amygdalin is a plant substance found naturally in raw nuts and the pips of many fruits, particularly apricot pips, or kernels. It is also present in plants such as lima beans, clover and sorghum.
Although laetrile is also often called Vitamin B17, it isn’t a vitamin. It is also known as Mandelonitrile beta D gentiobioside; Mandelonitrile beta glucuronide; Laevorotatory; Purasin; Amygdalina, and Nitriloside.
Laetrile/ Amygdalin as an Alternative Therapy
There is no scientific evidence to support claims that laetrile or amygdalin can treat cancer or any other illness. Despite this it has been promoted as an alternative cancer treatment. Some individuals take Laetrile/ Amygdalin because they believe it might
- Improve their health, energy levels and wellbeing
- Detoxify and cleanse the body
- Help them to live longer
Cyanide is thought to be the main anti-cancer ingredient in laetrile. Two other breakdown products of amygdalin, prunasin (which is similar in structure to Laetrile) and benzaldehyde, may also be cancer cell blockers.
The following theories have been proposed to support the use of laetrile for cancer:
Two of the theories state that the balance of certain enzymes in cancer cells allows laetrile to be toxic to the cancer cells. There is some evidence that normal tissues and malignant tissues do have different amounts of these enzymes.
Another theory states that cancer is the result of a vitamin deficiency and that laetrile, or “Vitamin B-17,” is the missing vitamin needed by the body to restore health. There is currently no evidence that laetrile is needed by the body or that laetrile can act as a vitamin in animals or humans.
The fourth theory states that the cyanide released by laetrile has a toxic effect that results in killing the cancer cells and stopping them from growing. The theory also states that the damage to the cells causes a boost to the immune system.
How is Laetrile/ Amygdalin Administered?
Laetrile is given by mouth (orally) as a pill. It can also be given by injection into a vein (intravenously) or muscle. Laetrile is commonly given intravenously over a period of time and then orally as maintenance therapy (treatment given to help extend the benefit of previous therapy).
Laetrile is available
As an injection (intravenously)
As skin lotions
As a liquid to put into the back passage (rectum)
Taking laetrile as tablets has more side effects than having it as an injection.
Our digestive bacteria, and the enzymes in the food we eat, break down the laetrile and release cyanide.
Laetrile’s promoters usually recommend that you have daily injections into a vein for 2 or 3 weeks, followed by laetrile tablets for some time.
Laetrile is also used in lotions to apply to your skin. It is used in enemas that are inserted into the back passage (rectum).
People who promote laetrile usually also suggest that you also
- Take high doses of vitamins
- Follow a special diet
So it can be quite a rigid and complex treatment to stick to.
Read more about Laetrile/ Amygdalin on our static Complementary & Alternative Therapies page, Laetrile/ Amygdalin
Please note that the Little Fighters Cancer Trust shares information regarding various types of cancer treatments on this blog merely for informational use.
LFCT does not endorse or promote any specific cancer treatments – we believe that the public should be informed but that the option is theirs to take as to what treatments are to be used.
Always consult your medical practitioner prior to taking any other medication, natural or otherwise.