Bitter Apricot Seed: The Surprisingly Sweet History

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The bitter apricot seed contains a wide variety of chemicals, such as hydrocyanic acid and amygdalin, which makes it incredibly toxic to most animals. However, humans were able to find safe and effective uses for this seed without succumbing to poisoning. Here’s an overview of the history behind the bitter apricot seed and how we used it over the years.



The apricot is a stone fruit, meaning the pit of the fruit is fully enclosed by a hard outer skin. Some stone fruits, like peaches and plums, have flesh that clings to the seed. Other stone fruits, like cherries and olives, have flesh that does not cling to the seed. Apricots are in this second group.

The word apricot comes from the French word apricot which means late or of late. This refers to its bloom time in early spring when other fruits have already been harvested. In many languages around the world, it is called by names that reference its bitter taste.



The bitter apricot seed is one of the most common ingredients in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian healing tradition. It’s also a key component of everyday life for many people in India and Pakistan. Ayurveda teaches that when eaten, it helps purify the body of toxins, strengthens the immune system, and builds bone mass.


Traditional Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the apricot seed is used in the TCM treatment of fever, sore throat, and tonsillitis. This is because it has an antipyretic effect, which means it reduces fever and helps to reduce inflammation. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can alleviate pain from sore throats and tonsillitis. In addition to these medicinal uses, the apricot seed is also used for beauty treatments.

Main photo: Olga Nayda/


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