Case Of Cyanide Poisoning After Self-Medicating With Apricot Kernel

Apricot kernel

Apricot kernel – health risk or cancer treatment?

Apricot kernel is a single seed found inside an apricot stone. They look quite similar to a small almond. Also widely popular as a super-food, some people believe that it has detox and cancer fighting properties. However, there is no research to support the claims as of yet. What’s more, scientists have warned a compound in the seed converts to cyanide in the body. Higher levels of cyanide can be harmful for the body. In a similar case, a 67-year-old man was found with low levels of oxygen in his red blood cells because of cyanide poisoning.

He went in for a routine procedure and the doctors were left startled as to why the oxygen levels in his body were so low. He was a seemingly fit and otherwise healthy person who did not smoke. Neither did he have any serious illnesses like lung disease, anaemia or heart disease. According to the patient’s anaesthetist Dr Alex Konstantatos from Alfred Hospital, he cycles 80 kms a week.

The 67-year-old’s medical history revealed that he was currently under remission from prostate cancer.

He further revealed that he had been using apricot kernel extract to prevent the cancer from spreading. The doctor explained that he had read somewhere that using apricot kernel extract prevents cancer from recurring. He had been persistently using it for a few years for this very reason.

Apricot kernels became extremely famous back in 2016 and were labelled as a “superfood” rich in nutrients and cancer fighting agents. However, kernel seeds are high in amygdalin which the human body converts to cyanide. Cyanide is a harmful chemical compounds that prevents the cells of the body from using oxygen. Cyanide is harmful to the heart, brain and other organs. Eating more than two kernels a day is over the safe level of using cyanide. The chemical can cause dizziness, joint and muscle pain and breathing difficulties. Moreover, may even lead to death. This man was taking more than 17 mg of an apricot kernel based supplement each day.

His blood levels revealed that he 25 times the acceptable level of cyanide in his blood. However, he refused to let go of his regimen despite the warnings.


An unusual presentation of chronic cyanide toxicity from self-prescribed apricot kernel extract

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Dr. Aiman Shahab is a dentist with a bachelor’s degree from Dow University of Health Sciences. She is an experienced freelance writer with a demonstrated history of working in the health industry. Skilled in general dentistry, she is currently working as an associate dentist at a private dental clinic in Karachi, freelance content writer and as a part time science instructor with Little Medical School. She has also been an ambassador for PDC in the past from the year 2016 – 2018, and her responsibilities included acting as a representative and volunteer for PDC with an intention to make the dental community of Pakistan more connected and to work for benefiting the underprivileged. When she’s not working, you’ll either find her reading or aimlessly walking around for the sake of exploring. Her future plans include getting a master’s degree in maxillofacial and oral surgery, settled in a metropolitan city of North America.


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