Karen Kirkpatrick is happy to talk to anyone about vitamin B17 on 01483 423235 (UK) 9am-5pm Monday-Friday. This is a private telephone number and she may not always be able to answer, but keep trying.


No information from may be construed as medical advice or instructions. Readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and wellbeing. comments on:

  • a new Food Standards Agency recommendation
  • 'Apricot awareness' (The Times 12th April 2006)
  • 'How apricot seed 'health food' could poison you' (Daily Mail 12th April 2006)
  • 'Apricot kernels can be deadly' (Daily Telegraph 12th April 2006)
Newspapers are just out for sensational stories that sell the papers. Sometimes they are not interested in truth. They have previously run stories with headlines: 'Killing cancer with cyanide' (Daily Telegraph 7.9.2000) and 'I was told I had only six months to live. But 17 years later I am alive and kicking thanks to vitamins, cyanide and coffee enemas' (Daily Mail 15.4.2003).

The FSA is not reliable. A week ago (5th April 2006) The Times front page headline was 'Folic acid in bread to cut birth defects.' Well, well, well, how very interesting!!! When we were expecting our first children (born May and June 1977 respectively) the FSA had followed the FDA in the US in restricting folic acid supplements to prescriptions (and just 0.1mg over the counter). However, we knew from reading Adele Davis (1974) in 'Let's have healthy children' that folic acid was very important in preventing birth defects. She recommended 5mg daily and said "If you do nothing else in preparing for conception, at least get some source of folic acid". Fortunately one of us had a father who was a G.P. who prescribed us both with folic acid, for which we were very grateful. It was poignant when the child of a friend was born with spina bifida. Without any great announcement at some time the FSA must have realised the folly of this restriction and then raised supplement levels slightly to 0.4mg (400mcg). Folic acid is not toxic - Davis says 500mg (500,000mcg) daily have been used to treat sickle anaemia. It does however mask a deficiency in vitamin B12. (We have subsequently come across the information that lack of folic acid causes strokes - a friend found this out, and after many years of mini strokes which didn't respond to other treatment, now under medical supervision she took mega doses of folic acid and is free of strokes. I was interested in this because both my parents suffered from strokes, so I started supplementing again with 400mcg of folic acid. More recently muscle testing has confirmed that I need 800mcg daily. I also supplement with vitamin B12 as a precaution.) Now the FSA is so keen for everyone to have sufficient folic acid that they want us to eat it in our bread. The rate suggested is between 100 and 450 mcgs per 100 gms. If a slice of bread weighs about 50gms, then some people are going to be eating over 10 times the restricted levels of 30 years ago. So the FSA is not reliable.

The FSA has to be cautious, where no clinical trials have taken place. These are not likely to take place in regard to apricot kernels because there is no money to be made from un-patentable substances, and in any case clinical trials proving prevention are not applicable. When contacted the FSA spokeswoman said that the papers had blown up their caution - they were just urging common sense.

We know from the RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamins that these are usually far too low a level for optimum health. (See Patrick Holford 'New Optimum Nutrition Bible' (Piatkus, London 2004) for his recommendations of optimum levels.)

The FSA recommends 2 kernels a day. We actually recommend you start with one a day! (This is in case of allergies, and also in case of a 'toxic crisis'). Then you can gradually work up to 10 a day, eating 5 at a time, with at least an hour in between. (See our notes on 'Toxic Crisis - coping with reactions')

Many, many people are eating 10 kernels a day, and have done so for years. Quite a few are eating much more than this (although still only 5 at a time).

Where are the bodies? For over 100 years amygdalin has been stated in pharmacological dictionaries to be non-toxic. Vitamin B17/amygdalin is not toxic. It needs a particular enzyme to unlock cyanide from it. This is contained in great quantities in cancer cells. Ordinary cells contain very little, but do contain a different enzyme which unlocks B17 in a different way to produce food for cells.

On the other hand, in August 2004 a study reported in 'The Times' showed that one in ten patients admitted to NHS hospitals will fall victim to medical errors, which have now become Britain's fourth biggest killer. Medical accidents and errors contribute to the deaths of 72,000 people in a year, and they are directly blamed for 40,000.

G. Edward Griffin, who wrote 'World Without Cancer' (American Media, California 1997), worked out how much B17 the Hunzas consumed. The Hunzas are a remote Himalayan tribe who traditionally have never had cancer. Here a man's wealth is measured by the number of apricot trees he owns. The Hunza diet provides an average of 50 - 75mg of B17 a day. So Griffin suggested eating the same equivalent in apricot kernels would help Westerners protect against cancer. Griffin suggests that common sense states that you would not consume more kernels at one time, than you would eat the whole fruit - so five or six kernels is the amount recommended, eaten twice a day for prevention.

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