Special Report: The Disputed Drugs

LAETRILE, an extract from crushed apricot pits that releases minute amounts of cyanide in the body. The drug's propagandists claim that it helps prevent cancer, reduces tumors and relieves pain. Despite the FDA ban, anyone who wants to eat crushed apricot kernels—sometimes sold as "vitamin B17"—can legally buy them in some health-food stores.

DIMETHYL SULFOXIDE (DMSO), a chemical byproduct of papermaking that purportedly reduces bruises and inflammation, eases pain and relieves ills from bursitis to cold sores. Doctors commonly prescribe DMSO in Australia, Canada and some European and South American countries, but it can be used legally in the U.S. only on...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!