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Enigma around vitamin B17.

Byline: Mariam A. Alireza

Vitamin B17, amygdalin or laetrile, though little known by the general public, has become a subject of debate for cancer victims and natural healing practitioners on the one hand and medical professionals, researchers and special interest groups on the other. The former groups believe in its cancer healing potency, while the latter groups claim it is a fraudulent "toxic" product. The recent episode of Jason Vale battling with 100 percent terminal cancer on YouTube has drawn attention to the nutrient once more in a publicized manner. Watch it on YouTube.

The famous trial case of the Kansas farmer with rectal cancer was the first to put amygdalin in the eye of the storm, bringing it out in the open. After the failure of conventional therapies, the wise farmer resorted to alternative treatment with laetrile in Tijuana, Mexico, which eradicated the malignancy.

Banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, laetrile became only available illegally and is difficult to get hold of. The angered farmer sued the FDA for denying him the privilege of curing his cancer. Because of the ban, his cancer recurred. Finally, a federal judge lifted the ban on laetrile for cancer patients who wished to be treated with the nutrient, declaring, "that their (patients') decision should be respected!"

Meanwhile, Japanese scientist Kanematsu Sugiura of Sloan-Kettering's Walker Laboratories backed the nutrient's healing reputation with meticulous scientific research and experiments on rodents with tumors receiving laetrile injections. His scientific findings were ignored and "suppressed." Fortunately, an unsigned letter written on Sloan-Kettering stationery brought the silenced research to light. It read: "Due to political pressure, these results are being suppressed" (Dr. Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Nature's Vitamins and Minerals).

With the advocacy of the media, judges and some political figures, 30 US states lifted the ban on laetrile for medical use. It became legal and a medical victory. Eventually, it was labeled and accepted as vitamin B17 by two highly respected scientific researchers, Dean Burk, Ph.D. and Harold Manner, Ph.D. The latter believes it to be "a unique nutritive factor for the immune system" and "necessary for normal metabolism."

Here is another laetrile success story. Fred MacMurray, actor and TV star, developed throat cancer due to pipe smoking. After radiation therapy, he was declared cured from the cancer. To his dismay, the cancer unexpectedly resurfaced within a short period. This time, he sought a different approach. He consulted Dr. Hans Nieper of Hanover, Germany, who treats cancer with natural protocols. The doctor had successfully treated comedian Red Buttons' wife for throat cancer.

Guess what was the treatment? Nieper's treatment included laetrile, B17, plus a food regimen based on organic foods, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, healing herbs, fish (only steamed or baked), and carrot juice twice daily mixed with a small amount of cream. Red meat, alcohol, and all types of fried food were strictly excluded from the diet. Eventually, he became healthier; he looked better; and the cancer disappeared. He died fourteen years later by contracting pneumonia. Amygdalin's potency comes from a cyanogenic chemical.

With the help of certain enzymes in the stomach, it makes tiny amounts of cancer-fighting hydrogen cyanide. The trace nutrient is sufficient to selectively destroy cancer cells. Luckily, foodstuff holding it does not supply lethal amounts. Its powerful bitter taste stops you from indulging in it, unless you fancy bitter foods to the extent of poisoning yourself. Because of cyanide's lethal effect, amygdalin therapy should be approached with extreme caution.

Plant source foods that are high in B17, but do not cause cyanide toxicity in "tiny amounts," are the following (suggested ways of intake in parentheses): apricot and peach nuts (one to two crushed nuts in tea), a few bitter almonds (whole or in tea), apple seeds (2 or 3 in tea), black cherry bark (tea), borage (tea), plum pit (crushed in tea), red clover (tea), cherry pits (crushed in tea), and yew bark (tea). They should, in very small quantities, protect against cancer without causing harm. Due to their cyanide content, large quantities can kill.

The following foodstuff contain less amounts of B17 and are, therefore, safer in normal portions i.e., barley, corn, wheat, rye and oats in cereals or breads; chick peas, peas, and peanuts as cooked vegetables or snacks; watercress, sprouted seeds, legumes, and grains with salad greens and in sandwiches; wild cabbage in salads and vegetables; European black current for snacks and as juice; and passion flower tea. Unless people take an overload of vitamin B17, there is no danger found in the nutrient. According to Heinerman, the recommended daily dose is less than 250 mg for cancer therapy for five days only. Do not treat yourself. Seek professional help.

Remember too much of a good thing is not necessarily good for your health. Excess nutrients are not only harmful but also toxic. All you need is a trace of vitamin B17 to protect against cancer. There is a saying in Arabic that warns against excesses, "All things that exceed their limits give opposing results."

Copyright: Arab News 2009 All rights reserved.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:May 16, 2009
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