How taking apricot kernel extract could kill you

There are lots of complementary medicines, and natural alternatives, that may be doing more harm that good in certain circumstances.

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Time and time again we hear about the importance of telling your doctors when you are doing, or taking, something that could affect your treatment. Here’s that time again.

An Australian man was undergoing routine surgery in a Melbourne hospital when doctors noticed he had abnormally low levels of oxygen in his body. While in this case the 67-year-old man was lucky that he didn’t die, his condition was certainly life threatening.

What the doctors found out later was that he’d been taking apricot kernel extract to beat cancer. He’d been taking it for five years, self-prescribed, to prevent a return of his prostate cancer. Blood tests revealed he had cyanide levels in his blood 25 times the accepted level.

Apricot kernel is a commonly taken extract used for a range of ailments.  It’s marketed as a preventative medicine for cancer, but it is associated with cyanide toxicity. Some people have shown symptoms that include nausea, fever, headaches, numbness, thirst and insomnia. It is also fatal. The patient in this case has been taking a fruit kernel supplement as well as making his own version. 

Authorities are well aware of risks posed by apricot kernels and apricot kernel derivatives. Food Standards of Australia and New Zealand recommend a maximum of two raw apricot kernels per day as being considered safe for consumption as food. The UK recommends one to two. Canada has posted warnings that apricot kernels should not be consumed for medicinal or natural health purposes.

Do you take natural alternatives to maintain your health?