A 28-year-old father from Blackpool, UK, was rushed to hospital in mid-July after being poisoned by cherry pits. Like plum and apricot pits, cherry pits contain amygdalin, a substance that turns into cyanide when ingested. In large doses, it can cause poisoning and death. Fortunately, the father of the family was treated in time.
He found cherry pits very tasty… And it almost cost him his life. A 28-year-old British man, Matthew Creme, was rushed to hospital on July 17 after being poisoned by cherry pits, reports The Independent.
The father had bought a tray of cherries in a Tesco supermarket. “Out of curiosity, he bit into the pit to eat the soft seed inside. After he thought it tasted good, he ate two more,” the British newspaper reported.
“A lethal dose of cyanide”
A few minutes later, Matthew was taken by intense fatigue, headaches and a fever flare-up. His girlfriend immediately called the emergency room. He was quickly treated at the hospital, where doctors told him he had ingested a “lethal dose” of cyanide.
Cherry seeds, like apple seeds and other seeds, contain amygdalin. When ingested, this substance breaks down to form potentially lethal hydrogen cyanide, explains the Dauphiné Libéré.
“Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include stomach cramps, headaches, nausea and vomiting. If left untreated, cardiac arrest or respiratory failure can occur and result in death.”
In plums, apples, apricots…
For a human being, the fatal dose would be at 1.5 mg/kg.
With 3.9 mg of amygdalin per gram, cherry seeds would not be the most dangerous. Apricot seeds contain 14.4 mg/g, while Reine-Claude plums contain up to 17.5 mg/g! Apple seeds also contain amygdalin, “but you’d have to eat a lot of them to get poisoned,” reassures The Independent.