Apricot kernel oil is taken internally and applied topically. In traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine system of India, apricot kernel oil is believed to fight cancer and help with dry skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis and dandruff. Both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine consider apricot seed oil to be effective for clearing conditions of the lungs, such as congestion. The oil may be taken internally or used in massage to stimulate clearing the lungs.
Apricot kernel oil in Ayurvedic medicine is believed to help move toxins, salt and uric acid out of the body, helping inflammatory conditions including arthritis, backaches and fluid retention. In Chinese medicine, the oil of apricot kernels is used for constipation.
The oil of the apricot kernels absorbs well into skin and softens it, making it a top choice for cosmetics and perfumes. The same qualities make it popular for delivery of pharmaceuticals.
Used topically, apricot kernel oil is slightly oily, helping it glide on the skin, but it does absorb well. The cost is higher than that of almond oil, but it is frequently used as a substitute on massage clients who are allergic to nuts
The toxicity of the amygdalin in bitter apricot kernels can help fight conditions where cells are overgrowing, such as the plaques that form in psoriasis. There is some research that supports the ability of bitter apricot kernel oil to cause apoptosis, or cell death, in cells that cause psoriasis. The ease with which oils from apricot kernels absorb into the skin has been used to deliver analgesic medications as well. There are no human trials that support the traditional use of apricot kernel oil for eczema.
As pharmaceutical antimicrobials increasingly struggle with resistant strains of bacteria and fungi, interest in plant antimicrobials is expanding. The bitter apricot kernels extract effectively inhibits growth ofCandida albicansandC. glabrata, as well asStaph aureusandE. coli. The sweet kernel is effective against these as well, although less potently. A methanol extraction of a Japanese apricot variety showed good results in fightingHelicobacter Pylori.
Apricot kernel oil has been studied in western medicine for its anti-inflammatory effect on Inflammatory Bowel Disease, specifically Ulcerative Colitis. In a rat study, bitter apricot kernel oil showed the ability to reduce inflammation and improve ulcers in Ulcerative Colitis. It seems to be the amygdalin in the apricot kernel that worked to suppress the cells driving the inflammation process.
Laetrile, a semi-synthetic form of amygdalin, also called vitamin B17, has been the subject of tremendous controversy for its potential to fight cancer. Both laetrile and amygdalin contain mandelonitrile, which contains cyanide. It is the cyanide that is supposed to be able to kill cancer cells. As with amygdalin, when laetrile is digested, especially in the presence of lots of vitamin C, it creates cyanide. This is why consumption of raw apricot kernels is discouraged.
While laetrile is still used as a cancer therapy in Mexico, where laetrile is not semi-synthetic, but truly amygdalin derived entirely from the seeds of bitter apricots, it is banned in the U.S., over safety concerns. A thorough review of the research showed laetrile is not effective against cancer. Nonetheless, research into its potential continues, including a recent study suggesting that amygdalin might stop metastasis of renal cancer cells.
In the expanding field of alternative sources of fuel, apricot is a rising star. Methyl esters of apricot kernel oils can be added to diesel fuel to improve engine performance and create cleaner emission.
More Apricot Kernel Oil Facts
Unrefined, expeller-pressed apricot oil will contain the best profile of nutrients and fats. It should be mid-yellow in color and have a stronger nutty scent than a refined oil. A refined oil will be lighter in color and somewhat thinner in texture, as all sediment and impurities will have been removed.
Apricot oil is generally considered hypoallergenic and is used on sensitive skin and as an alternative to almond oil for people who are allergic to nuts. However, if you have an allergy to apricots, or if you are not sure if you have an apricot allergy, apricot oil should be avoided, even as a topical agent. Ask a doctor about testing for apricot allergies.
Apricot oil is light, mild in scent and non-irritating, making it a great choice for use on kids. If your child has an apricot allergy or if you are not sure if your child has an apricot allergy, apricot oil should be avoided, even as a topical agent. Apricots are a member of both the birch pollen family and the rosaceae family, which tend to be allergenic groups. Ask a doctor about testing for apricot allergies.
You could cook with apricot oil. Extracts of the oil of apricot kernels is often an ingredient in marzipan or used in place of bitter almond oil. The whole oil is not frequently used in cooking because the edible preparation of sweet apricot oil has a short shelf life. Apricot oils prepared for cosmetic use will have more antioxidants in them to help extend the shelf life, but they are not intended for consumption.
Kept under proper storage conditions, apricot oil will last about six months to one year. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are added to apricot kernel oils used in cosmetics or massage oil to protect it from the oxidative stress that forms as oil begins to go rancid, extending its shelf life. Apricot kernel oil should be kept in cool conditions, as it will break down at higher temperatures.
Caution And Considerations
Apricots are in a group of foods that can cause an oral allergy syndrome. The other foods in this group of birch pollen foods are apples, almonds, carrots, celery, cherries, hazelnuts, kiwi, peaches, pears and plums. If you have a reaction to any of these foods, ask your doctor before making apricot kernel oil a regular part of your diet or cosmetic regimen.
Do not consume raw apricot kernels. The amount of amygdalin present in apricot kernels varies widely, and the amount of cyanide released from amygdalin can be fatal.
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