An apricot kernel is the seed found inside the stone of an apricot, closely resembling an almond. When fresh, apricot kernels are white, and they turn brown when they’re dried out.1 Apricot kernels have been praised for their cancer-fighting benefits, but some research suggests you should avoid ingesting apricot kernels. However, an odorless oil can be made from pressing the apricot kernels, which can be used topically in massage or for treating various skin conditions.2
Apricot Kernel Uses and Health Benefits
One of the most prevalent apricot kernel benefits talked about today is its ability to fight cancer. These cancer-fighting benefits are believed to come from the naturally-occurring compound in the apricot kernel known as amygdalin.3 Amygdalin is converted to cyanide in the body, which is a deadly chemical that prevents human cells from taking up oxygen.1 It’s believed that this deadly chemical is able to kill cancer cells, but more research is needed.
Aside from potential cancer-fighting benefits, apricot kernel uses involve topical treatments using the oil. Apricot kernel oil is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help nourish, soothe, and moisturize the skin when applied topically. It’s thought to help with a variety of skin conditions, including acne, hair loss, eczema, ulcers, and wrinkles.2 Apricot kernel benefits may also include immune-fighting properties, pain relief, and the ability to lower blood pressure.4 Other possible apricot kernel benefits include for:
- Stomach Cancer - Among the potential cancer-fighting properties of apricot kernel, it could help in fighting cancer, though more research is needed.
- Amoebiasis (Amebiasis) - Amoebiasis is a type of intestinal infection caused by a parasite. It’s suggested that apricot kernel may help.
- Cervical Cancer - Apricot kernel could also help in fighting or preventing cervical cancer.
- Asthma - The essential oil derived from apricot kernel has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating asthma.
- Bronchitis - Bronchitis is another respiratory condition that could possibly be treated with apricot kernel oil.
Apricot Kernel Side Effects and Precautions
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this natural remedy due to potentially serious apricot kernel side effects. While apricot kernel has been praised for its potential benefits as a “superfood,” many doctors warn against taking it orally due to the risk of cyanide poisoning. Cyanide poisoning side effects may include:
- Liver damage
- Low blood pressure
- Mental confusion
Talk to your doctor before starting on an apricot kernel diet; it could be unsafe for oral consumption.3 Pregnant women should never take apricot kernel products, including apricot kernel oil.2,3