Nutrient Fact File
Apricot Kernels are from the inside of the seed of an apricot. The Scientific Name(s) are Prunus armeniaca L. (Rosaceae) ; P. armeniaca L. var. vulgaris Zabel. They are very common here in Hong Kong as they are used in congee and powdered to make a tea. They have been used medicinally in India and China (in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine) for over 2,000 years. They are widely known for their anti-cancer properties although this claim is often disputed. Often by those who seem to profit from them not being used.
In chinese medicine they are used to stimulate digestion (reduce constipation, to soothe the digestive tract and relieve indigestion), improve respiration (used for asthma and to relieve coughs), lower blood pressure, and relieve arthritic pain (by reducing inflammation). Their bitter/sweet taste is warming and slightly toxic. This is supposed to stimulate healing.
It is their potential for toxicity which is most widely spoken about even though they have been used safely for thousands of years. In fact only two deaths have ever been reported and it is not stated what dose of the kernels were consumed and whether there were any other conditions involved. They contain tiny amounts of cyanide.
However they (along with wild cherry pips, crab apple pips, grape seeds, cassava root, millet, broad beans, most berries, and many other seeds, beans, pulses and grains that have not been hybridised) also contain vitamin B17 and Laetrile (amygdalin). These nutrients are very powerful immune stimulants, anti-oxidants and digestive supportive. The bitter taste stimulates gastric juices and the rich oils are very beneficial to the body. Apricot Kernal oil is used in many cosmetics and has a great effect on skin.
I have used it both as an oil and as a food for many years and I love it’s flavour. We use it in our muesli, bircher chia, smoothies and I have also made a seed butter from them. Readily available raw in supermarkets they are also relatively inexpensive.
If you want to use them in cancer treatment I suggest you approach your naturopath and oncologist for dosage advice. For prevention of cancer they can also be used safely. Eating 10-12 kernels over a day is generally recommended for prevention. Chewing them to release the oils is advised (hence why making them into a seed butter is a good idea). For cancer treatment almost 5 times that amount is recommended.
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