→ Raw Food Toxins

Raw Food Toxins

Alfalfa Seed & Sprouts, Alfalfa Leaf Tablets

Alfalfa contains Canavanine, an amino acid that can cause Systemic lupus erythematosus (aka Lupus, SLE), an autoimmune disease.

Apple Seed & Apricot Seed

Contain a cyanogenic glycoside: amygdalin. AKA laetrile, prussic acid, vitamin B17. Amygdalin is claimed to be an anti-cancer compound. It releases toxic cyanide when digested.

Apple seeds tend to get swallowed without chewing when eating whole apples, so the amygdalin doesn't affect you. Blending apple seeds breaks them open, making the amygdalin available.

A few seeds probably won't hurt, but you may want to remove the seeds from apples before blending. You can easily do this by slicing the apple into quarters from top to bottom, then cutting out a wedge from each piece to remove the core.

Apricot seeds have a lot of amygdalin. Apple and pear seeds, also nectarine, peach and plum seeds, have enough amygdalin that you can taste it; a bitter medicinal taste. Citrus seeds don't have any amygdalin. Heat destroys the toxin, making the seeds safe to eat - sometimes. If cooked for too short a time, at too low a temperature, you may have problems.

Buckwheat Greens

Buckwheat greens contain fagopyrin, which can create photosensitivity (meaning increased sensitivity to sunburn and skin cancer). Fagopyrin can also create nerve problems: tingling, numbness, etc. Buckwheat grain does not cause problems, just the greens grown from it.


Cassava contains a substance similar to amygdalin (see Apple Seed & Apricot Seed), that releases cyanide. Cultures that regularly eat cassava, know they need to cook it, or process it in other ways, to destroy the toxin. But sometimes there's more toxin than normal, or they don't cook it long enough, and people get sick or die. So don't try cooking apple or apricot seeds, then eating them. It's not worth the risk.

Celery, Parsley, Parsnip

Celery, celery root, parsley, & parsnips contain toxins called psoralens, aka furocoumarin. Psoralens can cause phytophotodermatitis. That means sensitivity to sunlight, caused by contact with a plant. Handling these plants & sunbathing can lead to bad sunburn, rashes, blisters, and skin discoloration. Photosensitivity from eating these vegetables can happen, but it's very unusual.


Handling figs and being exposed to sunlight can lead to sunburns or rashes.


Arsenic toxicity from kelp supplements.

Klamath Lake Blue-Green Algae (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae)

Some people get cold, have difficulty concentrating, and feel ungrounded from eating Klamath Lake blue-green algae. One man told me he developed tingling and numbness after eating large amounts of blue-green algae for a long time, which gradually went away after he stopped using it. Klamath Lake blue-green algae makes some people wheeze, even in small amounts.

Klamath Lake blue-green algae is a different species of algae than spirulina.


Applying lime juice to the skin, followed by sun exposure, can lead to skin discoloration.

Mushrooms: Common

Hydrazines are toxins found in uncooked mushrooms. Cooking destroys them. The common button mushrooms sold in most markets, and portobello mushrooms contain hydrazines.

Mushrooms: Shiitake


Sweet Potato

Sweet potato has trypsin inhibitor activity. That means it contains an enzyme inhibitor that blocks the action of trypsin, an enzyme that digests proteins. The trypsin inhibitor prevents the digestion of protein. Sweet potatoes with higher protein levels have more of the trypsin inhibitor. This makes raw sweet potato difficult to digest. The trypsin inhibitor is deactivated by cooking.

One way the raw food diet helps people is by supplying food enzymes. Food enzymes do part of the work of digesting the raw food. Enzyme inhibitors increase the amount of work that your body needs to do to digest foods. Enzyme inhibitors force your body to produce more digestive enzymes. This uses up resources that could be used to produce detoxifying enzymes. When animals are regularly fed enzyme inhibitors in research, they become sick. Sweet potato should not be eaten raw. © Jordan Rothstein <jordan at>