The almond is a delicately flavored nut, which is technically the fruit of the almond tree. The seed of the fruit is what we know as the nut. A quarter of a cup of almonds contains 205 calories and 45 percent of the daily recommended intake of manganese and vitamin E . Oil can be made from the seed, which is used in beauty and skin care products. Bitter almonds can be made into water and the water can be used to remedy coughs, vomiting, and nausea. Overdose of bitter almonds can occur in children and adults.
The medicinal part is the ripe fruit.
Flower and Fruit
The short-petioled flowers appear in pairs before the leaves. The petals are 19 to 20 mm long, pale pink to whitish with dark veins. The fruit is oblong-ovoid, compressed, 3.5 to 4.6 cm long by 2.5 to 3 cm wide, gray-green, velvet-downy, and pubescent. The nutshell is yellow, hard, compressed, broad- and sharp-edged, punctated externally with irregular grooves; inside it's smooth and glossy, either thick- or thin-skinned. The seed is cinnamon brown, flattened, and 2 cm long by 1.2 to 1.5 cm wide.
Leaves, Stem, and Root
The plant is of medium height, seldom reaching 12 m. It is a tree or shrub with mildly red-tinged branches, thorny in its wild form but not in the cultivated form. The leaves have a 1.2 to 1.5 cm long, glandular petiole, and glabrous, oblong-lanceolate-acuminate or serrate, tough, glossy, dark green blades.
The tree is indigenous to Western Asia and is extensively cultivated in many regions.
Bitter almonds are the fruits of Prunus dulcis var. amara (also of Prunus armeniaca).
Sweet almonds are the fruits of Prunus amygdalus var. dulcis.
Greek Nuts, Jordan Almond, Bitter Almond, and Sweet Almond
Actions & Pharmacology
Compounds: Bitter Almonds
Cyanogenic glycosides, amygdalin, 0.2 to 8.5% (corresponding to 12 to 500 mg prussic acid per 100 gm)
Fatty oil (non-dehydrating, 38 to 60%): chief fatty acids oleic acid (77%) and linoleic acid (17 to 20%)
Mucilages (3%): arabinogalactans
Proteic substances (25 to 35%)
Effects: Bitter Almonds
There is no reliable information available.
Compounds: Sweet Almonds
Fatty oil (non-dehydrating, 43 to 57%): chief fatty acids oleic acid (77%) and linoleic acid (17 to 20%)
Mucilages (3 to 4%): arabinogalactans
Proteic substances (20 to 25%)
Effects: Sweet Almonds
Sweet Almonds have a demulcent effect.
Indications & Usage
Unproven Uses: Bitter Almonds were used in the past as a remedy for coughs, vomiting and nausea in the form of bitter almond water.
Unproven Uses: Sweet Almonds are used topically in skin care and liniments.
Precautions & Adverse Reactions
To be used only under the supervision of an expert qualified in the appropriate use of this substance.
No health hazards or side effects are known in conjunction with the proper administration of designated therapeutic topical dosages.
10 bitter almonds are said to be fatal for a child, 60 for an adult (a fatal dosage would presumably be already reached at a lower level, given disadvantageous conditions, e.g., higher cyanide level in the almonds, intensive chewing). Recommended antidotes include injection of solutions of dicobalt-EDTA or thiosulfates or the application of methemoglobin-forming substances, such as amyl nitrite. At the same time, vomiting should be induced or the stomach emptied.
Circulation support measures and/or artificial respiration may be required.
Mode of Administration: The drug is obsolete and no longer used.
Mode of Administration: Sweet Almonds fatty oil is used as an ointment base and in the production of natural cosmetics.