Apricot kernel
Apricot kernel


Apricot kernel is the seed found inside the apricot pit. It contains a chemical called amygdalin, which the body turns into cyanide. It can be toxic.

Amygdalin from apricot kernel and a semi-synthetic form of amygdalin known as laetrile were once marketed to fight cancer, but research has shown that they don't help. Laetrile and amygdalin are not approved by the US FDA for any use. Amygdalin is converted into cyanide in the stomach.

People use apricot kernel for treating cancer, but there is no good scientific evidence to support this use. It is also unsafe when consumed in larger amounts. Purified apricot kernel extract or oil are sometimes used in topical products and to flavor liquors.
When taken by mouth: Purified apricot kernel oil is used as a flavoring in food. Apricot kernels are also sometimes consumed, but no more than 2 small apricot kernels or half of a large apricot kernel should be taken daily. Consuming larger amounts is likely unsafe. Apricot kernels contain amygdalin. The body converts this chemical to cyanide, which can cause serious side effects, including seizures and death.

There isn't enough reliable information to know if non-purified or virgin apricot kernel oil is safe. Poorly or partially processed apricot kernel oil might contain cyanide.

When applied to the skin: Purified apricot kernel oil is likely safe. There isn't enough reliable information to know if non-purified or virgin apricot kernel oil is safe.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Apricot kernel is likely unsafe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding due to its cyanide content. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: It is likely unsafe for children to consume whole apricot kernels. Apricot kernels contain cyanide, and even one-half of a single apricot kernel can cause serious side effects in small children.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
  • Cancer. Taking apricot kernel or amygdalin, a chemical in apricot kernel, by mouth doesn't seem to help treat cancer. It can also cause cyanide toxicity.
There is interest in using apricot kernel for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Purified apricot kernel oil is used as a flavoring in food and liquor. It is also sometimes used in cosmetic products.

When taken as medicine, there isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of apricot kernel might be. But large doses can be dangerous. Apricot kernel contains the chemical amygdalin. Amygdalin is converted into cyanide in the body and can cause cyanide poisoning.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Apricot Kernel interacts with any medicines. Before taking Apricot Kernel, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 26/08/2023 10:00:00 and last updated on 07/08/2020 23:45:34. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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