Medicinal and non-food uses

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Fresh or dried, apricots are an excellent health and beauty food. Three small fresh apricots contain more than 50% of the recommended daily intake (RDA) of beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant.Beta-carotene prevents the build-up of plaque deposits in the arteries, protects the eyes from sun damage and deactivates free radicals that, if left unchecked, accelerate the ageing process and increase the risk of cancer. In addition, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is vital for good vision and for keeping the eyes lubricated.Those at risk of dry eyes, such as contact-lens wearers, should include plenty of apricots in their diet. Apricots contain significant levels of iron, essential for hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment in red blood cells. Iron deficiency leads to anaemia, pale skin, and thinning, undernourished hair.Cyanogenic glycosides (found in most stone fruit seeds, bark, and leaves) are found in high concentration in apricot seeds. Laetrile, a purported alternative treatment for cancer, is extracted from apricot seeds. As early as the year 502, apricot seeds were used to treat tumors, and in the 17th century apricot oil was used in England against tumors and ulcers.In Europe, apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and were used in this context in William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as an inducer of childbirth labor, as depicted in John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi.
The IUD (intrauterine device) form of birth control, based on the premise that a foreign object within the uterus will prevent the implantation of an embryo, is linked to an old practice of camel herders and drivers who would place an apricot pit within the uterus of their female camels to prevent pregenancy and keep them working at carrying cargo rather than the work of mothering.

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