Supplements and Herbs

The history of amygdalin and laetrile

in the treatment of cancer

Copyright © 2023 Healing Cancer Naturally

2800 BCE - Apricot kernels [rich in Laetrile] used by Pen T'sao, a great Chinese herbalist in ancient China.

980 – 1037 - Persian master of pharmacy, medicine and natural sciences, Avicenna, recommended the use of apricot bitter almond oil in the treatment of tumors of the spleen, uterus, stomach and liver.

1520s - Swiss physician, naturalist, bibliographer, and philologist Conrad Gessner used almonds to treat cancer.

1560s - published his famous herbal doctrine in London and discussed the therapeutic properties of almonds and was the first to report their pain-killing effects.

1830 - Amygdalin was first isolated by Pierre-Jean Robiquet and Antoine Boutron-Charlard. Justus Freiherr von Liebig and Friedrich Wöhler found three hydrolysis products of amygdalin: sugar, benzaldehyde, and prussic acid.

1845 - The Parisian Gazette Médicale published (on pp. 577 - 583) an article by the Russian Dr. T. Inosemtzeff, Professor of surgery at the Imperial University of Moscow, who claimed to have successfully healed a case of metastasized cancer (a huge tumor around one eye disappeared and an abdominal tumor was reduced to a tiny rest which caused no pain) using amygdaline (together with some other remedies, particularly narcotics).

1887 - Dr Otto Jacobsen finds Laetrile to be of low toxicity. In his publication "Die Glucoside" he stated, "Amygdalin is not toxic" and gave 99 references from studies made within the 20 years prior to his publication.

1920s - Used as a cancer treatment in the United States, but considered too poisonous.

1949 - The term Laetrile was first proposed by Ernst T. Krebs, Jr.

1950s - A synthetic (purportedly non-toxic) form was patented as a meat preservative and later marketed as laetrile for cancer treatment.

1952 - Vitamin B17 was the name given to the purified form of amygdalin by Ernst T Krebs.

1962 - A request by Ernst T. Krebs, Jr., for FDA certification was turned down.

1962 - Dr. John Morrone reported his results from using Laetrile with ten patients suffering from "inoperable cancer." The treatments ranged from 4 to 43 weeks in length, and a range of 9 to 133 g Laetrile was given through intravenous injections. Morrone concluded his report: "The use of Laetrile... in 10 cases of inoperable cancer, all with metastases, provided dramatic relief of pain, discontinuance of narcotics, control of fetor [stench from a tumor], improved appetite, and reduction of adenopathy [swollen lymph nodes]. The results suggest regression of the malignant lesion.... No other side effects [other than transient episodes of low blood pressure] were noted except slight itching and a sensation of heat in the affected areas, which was transitory in all cases."

1963 - Glenn D. Kittler wrote "Laetrile - Control for Cancer".

1963 - Shigeaki Sakai, a prominent physician in Tokyo, Japan, reported, "Administered to cancer patients, Laetrile has proven to be quite free from any harmful side effects, and I would say that no anti-cancer drug could make a cancerous patient improve faster than Laetrile. It goes without saying that Laetrile controls cancer and is quite effective wherever it is located."

1966 - In the report "Proceedings of the Ninth International Cancer Congress", Rossi cites a ten-year trial in Europe involving 150 patients that found "50 percent of all cases in treatment showed objective improvement" and concluded that laetrile was "an extremely useful chemotherapeutic drug."

1968 - Dr. Dean Burk (National Cancer Institute): "Amygdalin is impressively nontoxic from the pharmacological point of view" and "nonhydrolyzed amygdalin is less toxic than glucose."

1971 - FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) banned the sale and use of laetrile.

1971 - Pasteur Institute (Paris): with human cancer strain maintained in mice, treated at optimal dosage of 500 mg amygdalin per kg body weight per day. Increased life span and delayed tumor growth up to 100%.

1971 - Dr Manuel Navarro, M.D., former professor of medicine and surgery at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila: "I have specialized in oncology [the study of tumors] for the past eighteen years. For the same number of years I have been using Laetrile-amygdalin in the treatment of my cancer patients. During this eighteen year period I have treated a total of over five hundred patients with Laetrile-amygdalin by various routes of administration, including the oral and the I.V. The majority of my patients receiving Laetrile-amygdalin have been in a terminal state when treatment with this material commenced. It is my carefully considered clinical judgment, as a practicing oncologist and researcher in this field, that I have obtained most significant and encouraging results with the use of Laetrile-amygdalin in the treatment of terminal cancer patients, and that these results are comparable or superior to the results I have obtained with the use of the more toxic standard cytotoxic agents."

1971 - Dr Ernesto Contreras, M.D., said, "The palliative action (improving the comfort and well-being of the patient) is in about 60% of the cases. Frequently, enough to be significant, I see arrest of the disease or even regression in some of the very advanced cases."

1972 - Dr Hans Nieper told reporters while in the U.S.: "After more than 20 years of such specialized work, I have found the non-toxic Nitrilosides — that is, Laetrile — far superior to any other known cancer treatment or preventive. In my opinion it is the only existing possibility for the ultimate control of cancer".

1972 - Veteran cancer researcher Kanematsu Sugiura (who had a 4-volume set of his collected scientific papers published in 1965) performed three sets of experiments between September 1972 and June 1973 "to determine the effects of amygdalin...upon mice with spontaneous mammary tumors." In an internal report to his colleagues at Sloan-Kettering Institute, he said that "The results clearly show that amygdalin significantly inhibits the appearance of lung metastases in mice bearing spontaneous mammary tumors and increases significantly the inhibition of the growth of the primary tumor over the appearance of inhibition in the untreated animals."

1972 - Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) board member Benno C. Schmidt, Sr. convinced the hospital to test laetrile so that he could assure others of its ineffectiveness "with some conviction." Kanematsu Sugiura found that laetrile inhibited secondary tumors in mice and significantly inhibited the growth of the primary tumors, although it did not destroy them. In mice with spontaneous mammary tumors, lung metastasis decreased by 80 %. He repeated the experiment several times with the same results. However, three other researchers reportedly were unable to confirm Sugiura's results. In fact, due to rising public interest in laetrile, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center performed a five-year study (1972-77) and another one in 1981, concluding that laetrile showed no beneficial effects.

Dr Ralph Moss, the former Director of Information for Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Center and author of books such as "The Cancer Industry" shone a revealing light on what truly happened in these years: He was told by MSKCC that laetrile had not yielded benefits during early experimentation and that he was to relay these study results to those interested. When meeting Kanematsu Sugiura, the scientist who performed the tests, to find out more, Dr Moss was surprised to learn that Sugiura actually was impressed with laetrile, stating that "laetrile had provided the best effect against tumor metastasis that he had witnessed in his 60 years of research."

Naturally, Moss became very suspicious and spent the following years documenting what he observed - unrelenting efforts at MSKCC, NCI, FDA, and ACS to discredit laetrile. When MSKCC's top cancer offcials finally held a press conference in 1977 to supposedly report on their laetrile study results, claiming it showed no promise as a cancer treatment, Moss decided to go public with his observations (and was, of course, immediately fired for exposing the cover-up of the positive studies).

In fact, MSKCC's motives were already clearly revealed in the minutes of a more private meeting held among top officials on July 2, 1974. The fact that many of them were convinced of the effectiveness of amygdalin was obvious, they just were not sure as to the degree of its effectiveness. But they were not interested in further testing. The minutes read: "...Sloan-Kettering is not enthusiastic about studying amygdalin [Laetrile] but would like to study CN (cyanide)-releasing drugs."

In other words, MSKCC wanted to create a patentable chemical to mimic the qualities found in amygdalin, to be able to sell it at a profit. No-one can make serious money selling apricot or other amygdalin-containing seeds, and the cancer industry would suffer greatly if natural compounds were found to effectively help against cancer.

1973 - The Institute von Ardenne (Dresden, Germany), took H strain mice bearing Ehrlich ascites carcinoma and treated them with bitter almond amygdalin ad libitum in addition to their regular chow diet. Results: increased life span and decreased rate of cancer growth, with treatment beginning 15 days before cancer inoculation (Archiv für Geschwulstforschung).

1974 - Dr Frank Rauscher, Director of the NCI, speaking in a CBS program broadcast on March 31, 1974, said, "I would certainly not turn off Laetrile, if it had an iota of activity that we could pinpoint. Unfortunately there's no evidence at all".

1974 - Dr Jesse L. Steinfield, head operating surgeon of the USPHS (United States Public Health Service) stated in a circular dated January 1974 to departmental heads of the respected Mayo clinic, "Laetrile has repeatedly been tested in animal tumor systems. There is no basis for the use of Laetrile in man based on data derived from experiments in animals".

1977 - Dr. Vern L. van Breeman of Salisbury State College, Maryland, reported that the addition of apricot kernels to standard food in pilot experiments with special strains of mice bred to develop breast cancer and leukemia showed impressive differences both in terms of developing the disease and increased survival times between the animals that [ate] the kernels and those that did not. When he reported his early findings... seven of the animals in the leukemia control group and five in the breast cancer [control] group had died, while none of the mice on the kernels had. Ultimately only one of the mammary cancer mice developed a slow-growing tumor, and, while the leukemia results were less impressive in terms of total symptoms, leukemia-prone mice that ate apricot kernels enjoyed life extensions up to 50% over what would normally be expected.

1977 - Numerous Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center employees with knowledge of the fraudulent test findings and the ensuing deception formed a group called Second Opinion to write a counterreport to the official laetrile papers. Ralph Moss — former assistant director of public affairs at MSKCC — aligned himself with Second Opinion.

1977 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibited the interstate shipment of amygdalin and laetrile in the USA.

1980 - The National Cancer Institute agreed to test laetrile on 178 advanced cancer patients. These tests were conducted at four major U.S. medical centers, including the Mayo Clinic and Sloan Kettering. Public Scrutiny, a medical freedom of choice publication, maintained that these biased trials were designed to fail when it was discovered that 66% of participants were already ravaged from chemotherapy treatments and that the laetrile used was of poor quality, with little or no amygdalin found.

1980 - Actor Steve McQueen, suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs usually related to asbestos exposure which is pronounced incurable[1], secretly traveled to Rosarita Beach, Mexico, to be treated by Mexican and American doctors using Dr. Kelley's regimen which included laetrile.

1994 - Dr P.E. Binzel in his book "Alive and Well" published his results from treating cancer patients with Laetrile between 1974 and 1991. He used a combination of intravenous and oral Laetrile. Intravenous doses started with 3 g and worked up to 9 g. After a period of months, oral Laetrile, 1 g at bedtime, was begun in place of the injections. Binzel also used various nutrient supplements and pancreatic enzymes, as well as a low animal-protein, no junk-food diet as part of his regimen. Out of a series of 180 patients with primary cancer (non-metastasized, confined to a single organ or tissue), 138 were still alive in 1991 when he compiled his treatment results. At that time, 58 of the patients had been followed for 2 to 4 years, while 80 had a medical follow-up from 5 to 18 years. Of the 42 patients who had died by 1991, 23 died from their cancers, 12 from unrelated causes, and 7 died of "cause unknown".

2005 - A study Amygdalin inhibits genes related to cell cycle in SNU-C4 human colon cancer cells suggests that amygdalin has an anticancer effect via downregulation of cell cycle-related genes in SNU-C4 human colon cancer cells, and might be used as a therapeutic anticancer drug.

2006 - A systematic review by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded: "The claim that laetrile has beneficial effects for cancer patients is not supported by data from controlled clinical trials. This systematic review has clearly identified the need for randomised or controlled clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of laetrile or amygdalin for cancer treatment." Given the lack of evidence, laetrile has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

2010 - Edward Griffin in his book "World Without Cancer" gives eight detailed case studies of patients who took laetrile and recovered from cancer in the 1960s and 1970s.

2013 - A number of cancer clinics in Mexico continue to use Laetrile, one of the most notable and successful being the Oasis of Hope Hospital (Contreras Clinic), Tijuana, Mexico.

2013 - Laetrile is still not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.


World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B17 by G. Edward Griffin

Alive and Well: One Doctor's Experience With Nutrition In The Treatment of Cancer Patients by Philip E. Binzel, M.D.

Amygdalin inhibits genes related to cell cycle in SNU-C4 human colon cancer cells

Laetrile - Control for Cancer by Glenn D. Kittler

The Curious Man: The Life and Works Of Dr. Hans Nieper by Hans A. Nieper, M.D., Arthur D. Alexander III

Laetrile and Cancer by Dean Burk and Nathaniel I. Berlin - Science News Vol. 98, No. 11 (Sep. 12, 1970), pp. 212+214

Synopis of Materia Medica, Toxicology and Pharmacology, 3rd ed C.V. Mosby and Co. (1944) by Davidson F. R.

More on the more recent history of amygdalin under Vitamin B17 (Laetrile/Amygdalin): Some historical background.


1 But see the book Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient's Guide by Paul Kraus who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 1997 and given a death sentence of under a year to live. He was still alive in 2019 after declining the standard chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.

... and for the best, easiest, and least expensive ways knows to heal cancer

after studying the subject for some twenty years, click here.

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