Apricot kernels contain a well-known poison - cyanide. Found naturally within these cancer killing seeds, cyanide is the poison being used to destroy malignant cells. The word 'cyanide' tends to conjure images of a deadly toxin for most people. The reason for this is that, through television, film and literature, we're all aware that it can be lethal in an adequate dose. We've seen it slipped into many a drink or used by secret agents to commit instant suicide when captured by the enemy. The reality is, most people probably didn't realize that there were non-lethal doses of cyanide. An even greater number of people wouldn't be aware that they're consuming it daily in the foods we eat without a moment of concern.
Cyanide is a natural, dietary expectation, which means our bodies have a natural frame of reference for its metabolism. When cyanide enters our bodies within the foods we consume, we know what to do with it. Natural mechanisms kick in to process it, make use of it, and excrete it without incident. Cyanide is made use of through its transformation into another substance called, 'thiocyanate'. Thiocyanate performs a number of biological roles within the body. Sickle Cell Anemia is, in fact, a thiocyanate deficiency disease.
Biological chemistry of thiocyanate in medicineThiocyanate is known to be an important part in the biosynthesis of hypothiocyanite by a lactoperoxidase. Thus the complete absence of thiocyanate or reducted thiocyanate in the human body, (e.g., cystic fibrosis) is damaging to the human host defense system.
Thiocyanate is a metabolite of sodium nitroprusside [amongst other cyanic compounds], after rhodanese catalyses its reaction with thiosulfate.
The dose makes the poison. This principle of toxicology very much applies to cyanide. It is possible, of course, to overwhelm our bodies with too great a quantity of cyanide, as it is with virtually every natural substance in existence, including oxygen and water. However, the side-effects experienced with apricot kernels are generally quite mild and don't even begin to approach the severity of those associated with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs. We often read in the anti-amygdalin literature that numerous study participants "suffered from cyanide toxicity". And they call us quacks? At the very least, this observation could only be described as melodramatic. I can assure you... if these mild reactions can be defined as "suffering", these observers have yet to experience suffering. A visit to the cancer wings will demonstrate some real suffering resulting from adverse reactions to conventional treatments.
We don't fully understand the mechanisms through which apricot kernels and cyanide work against cancer. There are a number of proposed mechanisms, but it seems none of these have been accepted by science as a whole. It is clear that a popular theory of action is very much false, and this has long been known as false. That is, that cancer cells, and only cancer cells, contain the one and only enzyme capable of unlocking the amygdalin molecule, which supposedly happened at the site of cancer and only at the site of cancer. This is pure silliness and we need to move beyond this stale and dis-proven theory. It is not the mechanism of apricot kernels, nor is it the mechanism of Laetrile or pure amygdalin. It continues to be propagated across the internet, which ultimately only serves to worsen the reputation of the apricot kernel, amygdalin and its constituent parts, and the proponents who earnestly want to uncover the secrets of their apparent effects.
The true mechanism may involve a lacking presence of rhodanese in sufficient quantities at the site of cancer to neutralize the cyanide before it has the opportunity to poison the cells. Rhodanese is the mitochondrial enzyme we possess with the sole purpose of converting dietary cyanide to thiocyanate. It seems, whilst this enzyme is abundant in healthy tissue, it is somewhat deficient in malignant tissue. There are a number of inherent components to apricot kernels that likely work synergistically. One possible mechanism may involve cyanide in combination with benzaldehyde. Benzaldehyde has proven anti-tumor properties in its own right. Some believe that the benzaldehyde is the critical factor and not the cyanide - where others believe the two work in tandem.
Benzaldehyde undergoes a transformation catalyzed by cyanide ions. The result is benzoin, which has a long history of medical use. Benzoin is largely comprised of benzoic acid, which has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. Many believe there is a strong link between cancer and microbial and fungal activity.