Although, the compound Laetrile or Amygdalin (Vitamin B17) has not been approved by the US FDA as a cancer treatment, it remains to be a popular choice for treating certain cancers in various countries around the world. The term ‘Laetrile’ comes from two words ‘Laevorotatory’ and ‘Mandelonitrile’, and is used to describe a purified form of the chemical amygdalin, which is a plant compound, containing sugar and hydrogen cyanide. It is the quantity of hydrogen cyanide which is thought to be the main anti cancer compound.
Laetrile is found in the pits of many fruits and plants such as sorghum, clover, and Lima beans. It is important to note that the chemical makeup of laetrile that’s patented in the US is not similar to that available in Mexico. The patented laetrile is a partly synthetic form of amygdalin, while the one found in Mexico comes from crushed apricot pits. Experts have highly suggested we use natural protocols first, and only use highly toxic (man-made) protocols if necessary, and then use those man-made sparingly. Therefore we like the natural laetrile found in Mexico.
History and Discovery of Laetrile
Amygdalin or laetrile was first isolated in 1830 in Russia, where it was used for its anticancer properties. The first recorded use of the compound in the US was in the 1920s, where the early pill form was found to be toxic. However, by the 1950s, a partly synthetic and non-toxic form of amygdalin was made and was patented in the US as Laetrile. The medication gained popularity in the 70s as a single anti-cancer agent and was made part of a metabolic therapy program, which included a special diet, vitamin supplements and the use of pancreatic enzymes. By the end of 1970, around 70,000 patients had reportedly been treated with laetrile. While it is still being used as a cancer treatment in Mexico, and some clinics in North America, the US Supreme Court had banned its shipment between states in the US in the 1980s.
The Effectiveness of Laetrile for Cancer Treatment
In laetrile, the active ingredient that’s thought to be useful for its anti-cancer properties is hydrogen cyanide. Two other breakdown products of amygdalin known as prunasin and benzaldehyde could also have cancer blocking properties as well. While research is ongoing, the following are a few theories of why laetrile works as a cancer treatment.
According to two theories, the balance of certain enzymes in cancerous cells allows laetrile to be toxic to them. There is also some evidence that normal tissues and malignant tissues have different amounts of these enzymes, hence laetrile affects the normal and malignant cells differently.
According to another theory, the cancer is the result of a vitamin deficiency, and it has been found that Vitamin B17 is the missing vitamin in the body of cancer patients. But, there is currently no research to support that laetrile is required by the body.
The fourth and last theory states that the cyanide that’s released by laetrile has a toxic effect that not only kills cancerous cells, but also stops them from growing. The damaged cancer cells results to a boost in the patient’s immune system.
How is Laetrile Administered?
Laetrile is administered orally in tablet form. It can also be administered on a patient by injection into a vein or muscle. Cancer treatment with laetrile usually involves the medication being given intravenously for a period of time, which is then followed by the medication being taken orally as maintenance therapy to extend the benefits of the previous therapy.