What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B 17?


The kernels of cherries and other fruits contain a chemical called amygdalin. A pure form of amygdalin is laetrile, sometimes called B-17, which some people promote as a treatment for cancer. B-17 is not a vitamin.

Purported Benefits

  • Proponents of B-17 (laetrile) for treating cancer claim that it can improve health, energy levels and well being, detoxify and cleanse the body, and prolong life. The main anti-cancer ingredient in laetrile is believed to be the poison called cyanide.

Scientific Evidence

  • According to the National Cancer Institute and many other medical sources, there is no scientific evidence that laetrile is beneficial for treating cancer.

Side Effects

  • According to the New York University Langone Medical Center, possible side effects of laetrile include nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, bluish skin color, droopy eyelids, trouble walking, fever and confusion.


  • Laetrile is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is illegal to bring into the United States.


  • Laetrile does occur naturally in many plants, including apricots, peaches, apple seeds, and lentils. For a positive review of laetrile, see Mary Laredo's "The Laetrile Saga," linked below.

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