Vitamin B17, also known as laetrile and amygdalin, is another controversial "vitamin," as its source, the apricot kernel, becomes a focus of increasing interest. Laetrile is a nitriloside compound composed of four molecules: two sugar, one benzaldehyde, and one cyanide. It is likely the cyanide that accounts for the controversy over this substance, particularly in regard to cancer therapy. Using laetrile-amygdalin, vitamin B17, nitriloside, whatever we call it-as a treatment for cancer is now illegal in the United States. Some people seeking such treatment go to Mexico or other laetrile-supportive countries. Arguments against laetrile as a therapy cite concerns about possible cyanide toxicity as well as studies that show it is not effective as a cancer treatment. Studies, however, cannot be completely objective, especially on a subject as complex as cancer, which is influenced by so many factors. The proponents of laetrile claim that cyanide is a natural molecule found in food and is not toxic in normal doses; laetrile treatment itself is not known to have any side effects in usual dosages. But, obviously, considering Western medicine's use of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, side effects are not the main concern when treating a life-threatening disease. The proof in any treatment is, ultimately, whether it works. Amygdalin is not digested in the stomach by hydrochloric acid, but passes into the small intestine where it is acted on by enzymes that split it into various compounds, which are then absorbed.
Scripture for the teaching: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. ~Isaiah 41:10
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