Sweet and Bitter Almonds !
Sweet and Bitter Almonds ! There are two forms of the plant, one producing sweet almonds, and the other producing bitter almonds. The kernel of the former contains a fixed oil and emulsion.
As late as the early 20th century the oil was used internally in medicine, with the stipulation that it must not be adulterated with that of the bitter almond; it remains fairly popular in alternative medicine, particularly as a carrier oil in aromatherapy, but has fallen out of prescription among doctors.
The bitter almond is rather broader and shorter than the sweet almond, and contains about 50% of the fixed oil which also occurs in sweet almonds.
It also contains the enzyme emulsion which, in the presence of water, acts on a soluble glycoside, amygdaline, yielding glucose, cyanide and the essential oil of bitter almonds or benzaldehyde.
Bitter almonds may yield from 6 to 8% of prussic acid .Extract of bitter almond was once used medicinally but even in small doses effects are severe and in larger doses can be deadly; the prussic acid must be removed before consumption.
The nut of the tree has also been used as a preventative for alcohol intoxication. Folklore claims that almonds are poisonous for foxes.