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Laetrile: How Much Proof Do They Need?
When I first got involved in alternative cancer treatments back in 2005, someone mentioned Laetrile. My reaction was, "You've got to be kidding. That was discredited back in the 1970s."
I didn't say this as a fan of conventional medicine. No way. I'd been devoted to alternative medicine for decades and I knew a great deal about it. But I'd read somewhere or other that it had been "proven" Laetrile doesn't work. No one ever talked about it in the alternative health newsletters I read.
So how did we all get fooled? Keep reading. . .
Continued below. . .
I mention this story to show just what a thorough job Big Medicine does at brainwashing the public. Well-informed people — people who have a whole cabinet full of supplements — ridicule or fear a great many alternative treatments. Not just cancer treatments, but alternative answers to all kinds of health conditions.
The suppression of Laetrile has been a category five health disaster that's cost hundreds of thousands of lives — probably millions of lives.
If you want to learn the truth about this valuable therapy, I suggest you get your hands on a book called Laetrile Case Histories: The Richardson Cancer Clinic Experience, by John A. Richardson, M.D. and Patricia Irving Griffin, R.N., B.S.
Dr. Richardson, now deceased, was one of the Laetrile pioneers in the 1970s and paid a terrible price. He had to stand three expensive trials in California courts. All three cases against him were dismissed.
Then he had to go through a longer and even more expensive trial in Federal Court in San Diego, where he was convicted of "conspiring to smuggle Laetrile" and was fined $30,000 (equal to more than $100,000 today). In due course his license to practice medicine was taken away.
Notice he wasn't convicted of smuggling. He was convicted of "conspiring to smuggle" — the sure sign of a lame case. If they can't convict you of a crime they convict you of thinking about a crime.
His book was written in 1975 and describes in detail 62 cases of successful recovery from cancer with the help of Laetrile. I mention it now because the book was updated in 2005, with some shocking new evidence.
You see, the authors tried to locate as many of the original 62 cancer patients as they could, to see if their recoveries were long-term or just a fluke.
They were able find data on 33 of these old cases from the early 1970s, and most of those people lived for years after Laetrile helped clear up their cancer. They were long-term cancer survivors and then some. I heard one of the book's authors, Patricia Griffin, speak at a cancer conference recently. She told the audience she takes Laetrile-rich apricot kernels every morning — and also Laetrile tablets — to prevent cancer.
The REAL people and REAL results mainstream
Dr. Richardson , M.D. was a general practitioner in San Francisco when an office assistant sparked his interest in Laetrile as a cancer cure.
After reading the available resources on the subject, he became convinced that Laetrile—along with certain enzymes and a diet free of animal proteins—could form part of a "natural barrier against the growth of cancer." Notice that he wasn't saying Laetrile is a magic bullet all by itself. He combined it with other therapies.
In Laetrile Case Histories, Dr. Richardson explains that in 1971 he began treating patients with the regimen that he called "metabolic therapy." Here are a few of the 62 case histories in his book. . .
You might think these success stories would motivate medical practitioners to take a second look at Dr. Richardson's Laetrile cases. But the reality was altogether different…
Authorities raided Richardson's office and arrested him in June 1972 for violating California's Cancer Law. His conviction in the first trial was overturned on a technicality. And two subsequent trials resulted in hung juries.
The legal establishment failed to stop Richardson's activities, but the medical community didn't stop harassing him. The California Board of Medical Quality Assurance revoked Richardson's California medical license in 1976.
Dr. Richardson subsequently worked in a Mexican clinic and as a homeopathic practitioner in Nevada until his health deteriorated and he passed away in 1988.
You need to know more about this treatment
Here at Cancer Defeated, we've interviewed many, many doctors and patients who have benefited from Laetrile. The most powerful way to receive the treatments is by IV, and the easiest place to do that is at the top Mexican clinics we recommend in our Special Report Adios, Cancer. It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get IV Laetrile therapy in the United States.
But if you can't go to Mexico, you can benefit from eating foods that are rich in Laetrile, such as apricot kernels. I've seen cures reported just from eating the foods. But let me add that if you're really serious about getting well, you won't rely exclusively on Laetrile — either taken by mouth or by IV — but will use it in conjunction with other treatments and lifestyle changes.
Adios, Cancer explains how to safely and legally obtain Laetrile-rich foods. My friend Ty Bollinger, author of Cancer — Step Outside the Box, is another great advocate of Laetrile. You can learn more about his book by clicking here.
You may hear laetrile referred to as vitamin B17 or "amygdalin," which comes from the Greek word for almond. This name is appropriate considering that amygdalin is extracted from almonds or the pits of apricots and peaches.
Laetrile is the trade name for a compound chemically related to amygdalin. In the early 1950s, Dr. Ernst Krebs, Sr. , M.D. and his son Ernst Jr. first used amygdalin to treat cancer patients. The work of the Krebs family was the main inspiration for Dr. Richardson's work.
Dr. Krebs theorized that cancer cells contain an enzyme that causes amygdalin to release cyanide. The cyanide destroys the cancer cells while leaving noncancerous tissues unharmed. Healthy cells don't contain the enzyme that stimulates amygdalin to break down into cyanide and other substances; that's why healthy cells remain unharmed. According to people who have studied amygdalin, it releases the killing cyanide only when cancer cells are present.
Dr. Krebs said that, in fact, healthy cells are protected by another enzyme which renders the cyanide harmless.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, Laetrile became a popular alternative cancer treatment in the United States. It took ferocious attacks against practitioners like Dr. Richardson, plus an aggressive campaign of false information, to lead most people to think Laetrile is a quack remedy.
Amygdalin is a naturally occurring substance that cannot be patented—which makes it a prime target for the wrath of "Big Pharma!" The big drug companies invariably try to ban cancer cures that aren't patentable and profitable.
Deny, discredit and destroy
In the book Alternatives in Cancer Therapy, authors Rose Pelton, R. Ph. and Lee Overholser, Ph.D. call Laetrile an "orphan drug" because it gets no love or support from the pharmaceutical industry.
Pelton and Overholser said "no drug company is interested in committing money to research Laetrile's potential." But these advocates aren't willing to tuck their tail between their legs and move on…
Instead, they say orthodox medicine has instituted a full-fledged campaign to:
On the issue of toxicity, Pelton and Overholser said some Laetrile users reported symptoms of weakness, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. They said these symptoms may be related to a person's inability to eliminate toxins resulting from tumor breakdown.
It may also be the result of patients just plain eating too much of the Laetrile-rich foods (usually apricot kernels) and getting sick to their stomachs. The solution is simple: If the foods are making you sick, cut back.
Pelton and Overholser admit there have been credible reports of muscular weakness and respiratory difficulties among Laetrile users. They believe those side effects typically result from patients taking excessively high doses without a doctor's supervision.
And in some cases, children who accidentally took Laetrile tablets did experience cyanide poisoning. But the authors said these incidents cannot be compared to the results of those whose medicine is administered under the watchful care of a medical practitioner.
From what we've been able to learn, it's extremely unlikely the side effects are the result of cyanide poisoning, as Laetrile's enemies would have you believe. Thousands of people have been safely and successfully treated with Laetrile — including intravenous Laetrile — without side effects. If Laetrile was a significant source of cyanide, I'm pretty confident that EVERYONE who's ever taken it by IV would be dead PDQ.
Pelton and Overholser said "cyanide poisoning does not appear to be a major problem in laetrile therapy." As with other medical treatments, it should be administered with proper supervision.
The Laetrile crusade continues!
Richardson was no lone crusader for Laetrile. Pelton and Overholser said "some alternative cancer clinics use laetrile regularly and claim to have a steady stream of patients who respond well."
And Laetrile has had other noteworthy supporters…
Harold W. Manner, Ph.D., chairman of the biology department at Loyola University in Chicago, found that laetrile combined with vitamin A and pancreatic enzymes produced a very high cure rate of breast cancers.
And National Cancer Institute (NCI) biochemist Dr. Dean Burke, Ph.D. performed an experiment that used Laetrile to kill a tissue culture of cancer cells. Dr. Burke was convinced that Laetrile could be an effective cancer cure, a pain reliever for terminal cancer victims, and even useful for preventing cancer1.
You won't be surprised to learn the FDA has not approved Laetrile as a treatment for cancer in the United States. And the National Cancer Institute maintains its stance that Laetrile "has shown little anticancer effect in laboratory studies, animal studies, or human studies."2
Dr. Richardson pointed to a definition of appropriate therapy response, provided by the California Cancer Advisory Council, as an example of what shapes such conclusions. The definition essentially states that only a decrease in tumor size is an acceptable measure of the anti-tumor effect of a substance.
Dr. Richardson believed that other criteria besides tumor shrinkage should be considered when evaluating a cancer remedy. Positive results can include pain relief, increased appetite, weight gain, and a patient's ability to be more active.
Patients on Laetrile often experience these other results. For example, it's very common for such patients to report pain relief. Dr. Richardson drew a distinction between tumor shrinkage and these other effects. As long as a tumor isn't growing, it may be nothing more than a nuisance.
In fact, tumor shrinkage may be a poor measure of a treatment's success or failure. Many substances shrink tumors. The shrinkage is often temporary. As we've often said in our publications, cancer is a systemic disease — it's a disease of the entire body. Treating a local problem such as a tumor is just one part of successful recovery.
Richardson took a dim view of mainstream medicine's obsession with tumor shrinkage. His opinion on this matter is a fitting way to end this article. He said, in part:
"As long as this sophomoric attitude is accepted by orthodox medicine, and especially as long as it is forced on the rest of us by the effect of law, tens of thousands of people will continue to die needlessly every single day, and all the million-dollar grants and all the research in the world will fail to stop it."
1Wilson, B. 2004. The Rise and Fall of Laetrile. Retrieved from http://www.whale.to/cancer/quackwatch_laetrile.html
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