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Sweet almond (Prunus amygdalus dulcis)

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Sweet almond
Sweet almond

BackgroundReturn to top

The almond is closely related to the peach, apricot, and cherry (all classified as drupes). Unlike the others, however, the outer layer of the almond is not edible. The edible portion of the almond is the seed.

Sweet almonds are a popular nutritious food. Researchers are especially interested in their level of monounsaturated fats, as these appear to have a beneficial effect on blood lipids.

Almond oil is widely used in lotions and cosmetics.

SynonymsReturn to top

Almendra, Almendra dulce, almond α-galactosidase, almond β-glucosidase, almond glycopeptidase, almond oil, amande, amande douce, amandel, amendoa, amendoa doce, amigdalo,  Amygdala dulcis ,  Amygdalus communis , arginine, aspartic acid, B-complex vitamins, badam, badami, badamo, badamshirin, bedamu, bian tao, bilati badam, cno ghreugach, daucosterol, emulsion, expressed almond oil, fixed almond oil, galactosidase, glucosidase, glutamic acid, harilik mandlipuu, Jordan almond, lawz, lozi, mandel, mandla, mandorla, mandorla dulce, mandula, mangel, mannosidase, mantelli, migdal, migdala, migdalo, mindal, prunasin, Prunoidae (subfamily),  Prunus communis  dulcis ,  Prunus dulcis  var. dulcis, Rosaceae (family), sladkiy mindal, sötmandel, süßmandel, sweet almond oil, tatli badem, tian wei bian tao, tian xing ren, vaadaam, vadumai, vitamin A, vitamin E, zoete amandel.

Note: Sweet almond should not be confused with bitter almond, which contains amygdalin and can be broken down into the poisonous substance hydrocyanic acid (cyanide).

EvidenceReturn to top

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Uses based on scientific evidenceGrade*
High cholesterol (whole almonds)

Early studies in humans and animals report that whole almonds may lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL/"bad" cholesterol) and raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL/"good" cholesterol"). It is not clear what dose may be safe or effective.
Anxiety (in palliative care patients)

It is unclear whether sweet almond improves anxiety in palliative care patients, but more research investigating sweet almond as the active treatment is needed to make a firm recommendation.
Radiation therapy skin reactions (used on the skin)

In preliminary study, an ointment made of sweet almond has not shown a benefit when applied to the skin of patients treated with radiation.

*Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use;
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use.

Grading rationale

Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Antibacterial, aphrodisiac, bladder cancer, breast cancer, chapped lips, colon cancer, dilution of injected medications, heart disease, increasing sperm count, mild laxative, mouth and throat cancers, plant-derived estrogen, skin moisturizer, uterine cancer.

DosingReturn to top

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (over 18 years old)
Studies have used 84 to 100 grams of whole almonds daily by mouth with no reported side effects to treat high cholesterol. As a laxative, 30 milliliters of sweet almond oil daily by mouth has been used.

Children (under 18 years old)
Little information is available for the use of sweet almonds in children, aside from the amounts normally eaten in the diet.

SafetyReturn to top

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies to almonds are common and can lead to severe reactions, including oral allergic syndrome (OAS), swelling of the lips and face, and closure of the throat. People who are allergic to one type of nut may also be allergic to other nuts. Avoid use in anyone with known allergy to almonds, almond products, or other nuts.

Side Effects and Warnings
In most reports, sweet almond is generally considered to be safe when taken by mouth. Sweet almond may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

Sweet almond may have estrogen-like activity. A study in mice reports hair loss and inflammation in the leg joints. There is a report of a fat embolism (fat bubbles traveling through the bloodstream, which is potentially dangerous) due to injection of almond oil into the penis.

Theoretically, increased intake of almonds (and therefore increased intake of unsaturated fat) can lead to weight gain. However, one study reports that consuming approximately 320 calories of almonds daily for six months does not lead to statistically or biologically significant average changes in body weight and does increase the consumption of unsaturated fats.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
There is little information about the use of sweet almond during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It appears that almonds in regular dietary intake are safe for most non-allergic individuals.

InteractionsReturn to top

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs
Based on animal studies, sweet almond may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking drugs for diabetes by mouth or insulin should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare provider. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

Theoretically, almonds and cholesterol-lowering agents may have additive effects when taken together. Sweet almond may also interact with drugs taken for cardiovascular conditions, fertility, or estrogen activity.

Interactions with Herbs & Dietary Supplements
Based on animal studies, sweet almond may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

Theoretically, almonds may add to the effects of herbs or supplements that lower blood cholesterol levels, such as fish oil, garlic, guggul, or niacin.

Sweet almond may also interact with agents taken for cardiovascular conditions, fertility, or estrogen activity.

Methodology Return to top

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration ( Winnie Abrahamson, ND; Ethan Basch, MD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Samuel Basch, MD (Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, NY); Wendy Chao, PhD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Dawn Costa, BA, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Cathi Dennehy, PharmD (University of California, San Francisco); Jenna Hollenstein, MS, RD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); David Kroll, PhD (Duke University); Richard Liebowitz, MD (Duke University); Katie Nummy, BS (Northeastern University); David Sollars MAc, HMC (New England School of Acupuncture); Philippe Szapary, MD (University of Pennsylvania); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Mamta Vora, PharmD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jen Woods, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).

Methodology details

Selected references Return to top

  1. Abbey M, Noakes M, Belling GB, et al. Partial replacement of saturated fatty acids with almonds or walnuts lowers total plasma cholesterol and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59(5):995-999.
  2. Clemetson CA, de Carlo SJ, Burney GA, et al. Estrogens in food: the almond mystery. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 1978;15(6):515-521.
  3. Evans S, Skea D, Dolovich J. Fatal reaction to peanut antigen in almond icing. CMAJ 1988;139(3):231-232.
  4. Fleischauer AT, Arab L. Garlic and cancer: a critical review of the epidemiologic literature. J Nutr 2001;131(3s):1032S-1040S.
  5. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al. Frequent nut consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women: prospective cohort study. BMJ 1998;317(7169):1341-1345.
  6. Hyson DA, Schneeman BO, Davis PA. Almonds and Almond Oil Have Similar Effects on Plasma Lipids and LDL Oxidation in Healthy Men and Women. J Nutr 2002;132(4):703-707.
  7. Kyle G. Evaluating the effectiveness of aromatherapy in reducing levels of anxiety in palliative care patients: results of a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006 May;12(2):148-55.
  8. Maiche AG, Grohn P, Maki-Hokkonen H. Effect of chamomile cream and almond ointment on acute radiation skin reaction. Acta Oncol 1991;30(3):395-396.
  9. Schade JE, McGreevy K, King AD, Jr., et al. Incidence of aflatoxin in California almonds. Appl Microbiol 1975;29(1):48-53.
  10. Spiller GA, Jenkins DA, Bosello O, et al. Nuts and plasma lipids: an almond-based diet lowers LDL-C while preserving HDL-C. J Am Coll Nutr 1998;17(3):285-290.
  11. Teotia S, Singh M, Pant MC. Effect of Prunus amygdalus seeds on lipid profile. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1997;41(4):383-389.
  12. Thomas P, Boussuges A, Gainnier M, et al. [Fat embolism after intrapenile injection of sweet almond oil]. Rev Mal Respir 1998;15(3):307-308.

January 01, 2008..

Natural Standard Logo This evidence-based monograph was prepared by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration. The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Talk to your health care provider before taking any prescription or over the counter drugs (including any herbal medicines or supplements) or following any treatment or regimen. Copyright© 2008 Natural Standard ( All Rights Reserved.