- Some users on TikTok claim that eating apricot kernels (the seeds inside the apricot stone) can prevent acne and acne scars.
- According to experts, there is no evidence that eating apricot seeds can help with acne—and it might even be dangerous.
- Apricot seeds contain amygdalin which converts to cyanide, so eating them could lead to cyanide poisoning.
When you’re dressing up salads, desserts, jams, and other dishes with fresh apricots, you probably just toss the inside bit—the seed or kernel. But are there any benefits to keeping—and eating—it?
Some TikTok users claim that eating apricot seeds can help prevent acne and acne scars. In a TikTok video that has over 476,000 views, a user said they believe that their skin is clear because of all the apricot kernels they ate as a kid.
“I was eating like a minimum of five of these a day for the entire time that I lived there [in China],” the user said. “Apparently apricot pits or seeds are like a folk remedy or like Eastern medicine for clear skin, so yeah that might be one of the reasons why my skin is this nice.”
As with most viral internet health hacks, experts are not so sure that eating apricot seeds is the acne answer people are looking for—and it could even be dangerous.
Apricot Seeds for Acne: Hype or Help?
Jennifer Gordon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology told Verywell that there is “absolutely no data” to suggest that eating apricot seeds or kernels that are found within apricot stones or pits helps with acne or acne scars.
“Scientifically, there is no potential to help with true acne scarring, however, many people mistake inflammation discoloration with true scarring,” said Gordon.
Gordon said that the only potential explanation for why people may think apricot seeds would help with acne is because they contain fatty acids and vitamin E, which do help reduce inflammation.
Megan Hilbert, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian specializing in gut health nutrition at Top Nutrition Coaching, told Verywell that while apricot seeds do have antioxidant-rich oils and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s not nearly enough to help with acne or scarring.
“Eating these kernels will not contain enough of these properties to improve the look of acne or acne scars,” said Hilbert.
Why Apricot Seeds Can Be Dangerous
Apricot seeds might be a source of fatty acids, vitamin E, and oils, but they’re also a source of a chemical compound called amygdalin.
Dena Champion, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Verywell that amygdalin is found in many plants and the pits or seeds of fruits like apricots, peaches, cherries, and plums.
Megan Hilbert, MS, RDN
Even as little as two small kernels or half a large kernel could contain enough amygdalin to deliver a lethal dose of cyanide.
— Megan Hilbert, MS, RDN
That said, just because it’s naturally found in fruits doesn’t mean you want to consume it. Brendan Camp, MD, double board-certified in dermatology and dermatopathology, told Verywell that when you consume amygdalin, your body breaks it down and converts it into cyanide, which is toxic and potentially deadly.
“It is not advisable to consume apricot kernels because they contain amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside,” said Camp. “This means that when amygdalin is metabolized after consumption it can release cyanide. Cyanide acts as a poison that prevents cells from using oxygen.”
Plus, as amygdalin is converted into cyanide in the stomach it can cause side effects like headache, dizziness, weakness, anxiety, chest pain, mild confusion, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting.
Hilbert said that exposure to large doses of cyanide can lead to serious symptoms like high or low blood pressure, lung injury, coma, seizures, cardiac arrest, or even death.
How Many Apricot Seeds Are Harmful?
According to Champion, the adult lethal dose of amygdalin is estimated to be 0.5 to 3.5 mg/kg body weight. When it comes to apricots, Hilbert said that “even as little as two small kernels or half a large kernel could contain enough amygdalin to deliver a lethal dose of cyanide.”
According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), eating more than three small raw apricot kernels or less than half of one large kernel in a serving can also go well over the recommended safe level.
Don’t Try This at Home
Experts do not recommend trying the TikTok apricot seed acne trend. They also do not recommend that you eat apricot seeds, given how dangerous it could be.
“I do not recommend this trend as a form of treatment for acne,” said Camp. “It is important to use acne treatments that are safe, well studied, and have proven efficacy.”
Cyanide is a powerful and dangerous chemical. Gordon said that since apricot seeds contain a high amount of a chemical that turns into cyanide, even small doses can cause long-term effects or even lead to death.
According to Champion, there are multiple case studies showing the health effects of ingesting apricot seeds, including neuromuscular disorders, weakness, confusion, headache, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and death.
“There are no indications in which anyone should be consuming apricot seeds for any reason,” said Champion. “Speak with a dermatologist about safe options for acne.”
How to Safely Reduce Acne Scars
Experts say that there are plenty of safe and effective ways to treat acne and reduce scarring. Your best bet is to talk to a skin specialist who treats acne (a dermatologist) to find out what method would be best for you.
“Do not rely on trends to keep your skin and body healthy,” said Camp. “Seek the assistance of a board-certified dermatologist to review treatment options for acne, discoloration, and scarring with medications and procedures that are well-studied, safe, and effective.”
Possible acne treatments include:
- Topical treatments like retinoids, niacinamide, and sunscreen.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) products like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.
- Oral prescription medications, such as antibiotics, spironolactone, and isotretinoin.
- Acne scarring methods like topical medications, peels, lasers, and radiofrequency microneedling.
- Cutting back on inflammatory foods like ultra-processed foods, excess sugar, fried foods, and refined grains.
- Adding foods to your diet that fight inflammation like fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains.
What This Means For You
Eating apricot seeds for acne is not just another TikTok trend—it’s one that could turn dangerous or even deadly. Instead, experts recommend talking to a dermatologist about the safest and most effective treatment for acne and scarring.
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European Food Safety Authority. Apricot kernels pose risk of cyanide poisoning.
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