Laetrile - Amygdaline - Vitamin B17 - Nitrilosides
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LAETRILE THERAPY is probably the best known and most widely publicized of alternative cancer therapies. Amygdalin is a member of a group of cyanide-containing substances called nitrilosides, which occur naturally in plants. The termslaetrile andamygdalin are often used interchangeably. Laetrile is a concentrated extract of amygdalin prepared from apricot kernels specifically for cancer therapy. The extraction process was developed by Dr. Ernst Krebs, Jr., who pioneered the use of laetrile in cancer therapy.
Amygdalin, which is also called vitamin B17, is a relatively simple compound that occurs naturally in much of our food supply. Substantial amounts of amygdalin are found in apricots, peaches, cherries, berries, buckwheat, millet, alfalfa, and some strains of beans and peas. It is estimated that it occurs in about 1,200 different kinds of plants, with the highest levels occurring in the seeds of non-citrus fruits.
When laetrile (or amygdalin) is acted upon by the enzyme beta-glucosidase, it breaks down into two molecules of glucose (a sugar), one molecule of benzaldehyde (an analgesic), and one molecule of hydrocyanic acid (a poison).
As the enzyme beta-glucosidase breaks amygdalin down into its component parts, toxic cyanide is released. Studies have shown that various types of cancer cells contain from 100 to 3,600 times more of this enzyme than noncancerous cells, so much greater amounts of cyanide are released where there are active cancer cells.
Although most cancer cells have high levels of beta-glucosidase, they are deficient in most other enzymes, especially rhodanese. Rhodanese detoxifies hydrocyanic acid into nontoxic thiocyanate. Ultimately, the cyanide ion becomes part of the vitamin B17 molecule (cyanocobalamin). Since cancer cells have difficulty metabolizing cyanide, it is selectively toxic to cancer cells when released from laetrile.
Benzaldehyde, which is a known analgesic, is also released by the breakdown of laetrile at tumor sites. This probably accounts for the pain relief that patients often report with the administration of laetrile. Some research conducted in Japan has shown that benzaldehyde also has antitumor activity.
In theory, laetrile may be the perfect chemotherapeutic agent. It selectively destroys cancer cells and it is nontoxic to normal cells.
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