Vitamin B-17: Nature's Natural Cancer Fighter

Vitamin B-17: I explain here:

WHY Vitamin B17 is important

Studies^1 of indigenous groups that are principally free of cancer have shown the common feature of a diet that is rich in B17 nitriloside containing foods and generally sugar-free.

These indigenous peoples, such as the Abkhasians, the Hunzas, the Eskimaux and the Karakorum, get their vitamin B-17 through a variety of different foods and may consume as much as 250 - 3,000mg of B17 nitriloside a day. The average western diet, on the other hand, tends to contain less than 5mg a day. When natives of these tribes move into urban, civilized areas and adopt the western diet their incidence of cancer increases to the common western level^2.

Joseph Herman Romig stated in an interview with Dr W A Price^3 that "in his 36 years of of contact with these people, he had never seen a case of malignant disease among the truly primitive Eskimos and Indians, although it frequently occurs when they are modernised".

The low incidence of cancer in these peoples is not genetic, but 'lifestyle' based as the reports show. The lifestyle differences between the 'native group' and the 'civilized westerners' are principally:

  • Their diets: high in vitamin B-17 and low in processed and refined foods;
  • Negligible chemical contamination of their personal environment; and
  • a generally more outdoor and physically active life.

Vitamin B17 Metabolic Therapy seeks to reverse all 3 negative aspects of the industrialised 'civilised' west by boosting vitamin B17 intake, cutting down one's personal chemical 'loading' and encouraging greater physical activity.

What works as a curative regime also works as a cancer preventative regime!

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WHAT is Vitamin B17?

Vitamin B-17 is a nitrile (i.e. an organic compound containing the cyanide radical 'CN') which combines that CN molecule with benzaldehyde and additional sugar molecules.

It occurs naturally in a wide range of plants in a number of different forms according to the varying additional sugar molecules and it can also be manufactured. This is where the different names come from - amygdalin, linamarin, laetrile and Laetrile, plus others. These B-17 containing compounds are collectively called 'nitrilosides'

Vitamin B17 contains NO free cyanide in the form HCN and is a world apart from the potassium cyanide used in the gas chamber.

Is it really a vitamin? The definition (according to my Chambers Dictionary) of a vitamin is "any of numerous organic substances, 'accessory food factors', present in minute quantities in nutritive foods and essential for the health of the animal organism". On that definition and given its benefits in controlling and preventing cancer I cannot see how it can be argued that it is not a vitamin! Its detractors in the pharmaceutical industry will continue to argue regardless.

Detractors may also argue against it's naming as B-17. Whether it should be classified as B17 or something else is, in my mind, quite unimportant. It has some similarities with vitamin B12, cyanocobalamin, and helps in its production by one's body so it may be in the right place; but it is its effects that are important, not its name.

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The WAY Vitamin B-17 Works

The B-17 molecule is stable, chemically inert, non-toxic and does not break down in nature until it comes up against either of the enzymes Rhodanese OR Glucosidase (or Beta-glucosidase). These have quite different effects:

  1. Normal cells in the body contain Rhodanese which breaks down vitamin B-17 into two helpful compounds:

    • the cyanide radical CN is converted with sulphur to thiocyanate which helps the liver produce vitamin B12; and
    • the benzaldehyde is oxidised to benzoic acid which is analgesic and antiseptic in function and nourishes healthy cells.

    and any surplus of either compound is simply washed out as normal in the urine.

  2. Cancerous cells in the body contain large quantities of Beta-glucosidase which breaks down vitamin B-17 into two toxic compounds in minute quantities:

    • the cyanide radical is released as Hydrogen Cyanide - HCN - a potent poison; and
    • the benzaldehyde (an analgesic/pain-killer) with its attached glucose molecules is similarly released;

    which work together to make a more effective cancer cell killer than either of them on their own, placed directly at the site of the cancerous cells which are then destroyed by this combined poison.

As mentioned elsewhere on this web site, to be truly effective vitamin b-17 needs the help of additional enzymes. These include the pancreatic and plant enzymes such as trypsin, chymotrypsin, bromelain (from pineapples) and papain (from papaya). These enzymes break down and weaken the protective shell around the cancer cells allowing the HCN and benzaldehyde to destroy the cancer cells.

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WHY Vitamin B17 is safe

As we have seen healthy cells break vitamin B17 down into beneficial products and cancerous cells break it down into toxins at the very place that you want the toxins to work. So as long as the rate of rhodanese detoxification exceeds the rate at which the nitriloside is converted to free HCN it seems that it is impossible to build up any level of toxicity.

Considerable research has been done, feeding sheep and other animals with HCN on a daily basis over two years with no indications of any toxic or cumulative effect. So taking nitrilosides on a regular basis in amounts within the researched guidelines has been shown to have no harmful effect.

Much of that research has been done using 'free' HCN, so there is the added safety of the CN ion being tied up in the B-17 molecule. It would be possible to create a toxic effect if one took an excessive amount in one go and added plants that are rich in beta-glucosidase at the same time. This is little different from taking an excess of, say, salt or vitamin A in one go and suffering from that poisoning - normal usage is not a problem.

Additionally, studies have shown that cattle grazing naturally on some varieties of grass can ingest and safely metabolise significant quantities of nitriloside.


Despite various research attempts to show toxicity, no one in the course of hundreds of papers since the 1800's has managed to show any cumulative toxicity.

Even with the many studies showing that nitrilosides taken in the recommended quantity range are completely safe, there is a strong anti-vitamin B17 bias fostered by the pharmaceutical industry. A study reported in 1981^4 concluded that their applied intravenous dosages of amygdalin were free of toxicity and that no cyanide could be detected in the blood. Yet the front page summary finished with "A definite hazard of cyanide toxic reaction must be assumed, ..." completely contradicting their own findings! Biased or just stupid?

When busy doctors might just have time to read research summaries, is it any wonder that they are not in favour of vitamin B-17 as a treatment?

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WHERE can you find Vitamin B-17?

Nitrilosides are present in a wide variety of plants in varying concentrations. Many common forage grasses contain high concentrations protecting grazing livestock. Some human 'tribes' referred to previously eat relatively little plant food, but it has been discovered that the rumen (the first stomach of grazing (ruminant) animals) which is a prized delicacy is itself very rich in nitrilosides.

If you want some of the higher concentrations you need to choose, for example:

  • the seeds (or 'kernels' where encased in a stone or shell) of most non-citrus fruits, such as apricots, apples, cherries, peaches, plums;
  • some nuts such as macadamia nuts, pecans, walnuts and cashews;
  • various berries;
  • staples such as cassava (tapioca) and brown rice.

Vegetation rich in nitrilosides seems ubiquitous from the arctic grasses to tropical plants - it's just a matter of selection. Further information and help can be found in the books CANCER Why We're Still Dying to Know the Truth and Food for Thought both available from Credence online store.

For me the easiest way to be sure of getting enough for cancer preventative purposes is by eating apricot kernels (on which I will write another page). I buy them in 2lb (0.9kg) bags from the Credence Store.

Notes: 1. Krebs, Ernst T, Nutritional and Therapeutic Implications, published by the John Beard Memorial Foundation 1964

2. Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, CANCER: Disease of Civilisation? An Anthropological and Historical Study, published by Hill and Wang, New York 1960

3. Price, Weston A, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, published London and New York 1939; Quoted, along with a dozen similar research comments, at p76 of Phillip Day's book: 'CANCER Why We're Still Dying to Know the Truth' available from Credence Publications

4. Moertal, C et al, A Pharmalogical and Toxicological Study of Amygdalin, published Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA)(1981) 245:591-94

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