Oleum Amygdalae Amarae. Oil of Bitter Almond, U.S.P.

Amygdalus communis (var. Amara.), Linne', or other kernels containing amygdalin. A volatile oil from the dried ripe kernels deprived of fixed oil obtained by maceration with water and subsequent distillation with steam.

Habitat: W. Asia, Persia, Syria, Barbary, Morocco. Naturalized in Mediterranean Basic. Cultivated in Europe. Unsuccessfully in United States.

Syn.: Greek Nuts: Ol. Amygd Amar; Bitter Almond Oil, Oleum Amygdalarum (Amararum) Aethereum; Fr. Amande ame're. Essence d'Amande ame're: Ger. Amygdalae Amarae, Bittere Mandelin; Bittermandelol.

A'myg'da'lus. L. Fr Gr. To lacerate, i.e., its fissured shell.

Com mu'nis. L. Common, general, i.e., the ordinary or common species.

Ama'ra. L. Amarus, bitter, i.e., the fruit.


Small tree, 5 - 6 M. (15 - 20 degrees) high, bark purplish. Leaves bright green. Flowers pale pink or white. Fruit drupe, ovate, 5 Cm. (2') long, 2.5 Cm (1') broad, sarcocarp green, leathery, splitting into two halves when ripe and falling from the stone. This remaining stone is the commercial almond and may be sold as such or may be bleached by sulphur dioxide, thereby also killing any attached insects. By cracking off hard shell, the kernel, or properly, the seed, is left, which, when deprived of papery endocarp by hot water, constitutes the more desirable blanched almond. Seed (almond), 2.5 Cm. (1') long, oblong-lanceolate, flattish; testa cinnamon-brown, thin, finely downy, marked by about 16 lines radiating from broad scar at blunt end; embryo straight, white, oily, with 2 plano-convex cotyledons; taste bitter, oleaginous; triturated with water, yields milk-white emulsion, emitting odor of hydrocyanic acid.


Seed: Sweet almonds chiefly (Valencia) and peach seed -- both cheaper; the bitter differs from the sweet in flavor, odor with water, containing amygdalin, being shorter, broader, thinner, less plump and darker, and from peach seed by being much larger. Oil: Alcohol, oil of turpentine, nitrobenzene, impure bensaldehyde from toluene (chlorine), etc.

Commercial: There are several varieties of these (French, Sicily, Barbary, in the orderof value), being exported chiefly from Mogador, in Morocco.


Kernels: Fixed oil 46 p.c., Amygdalin 1 - 3 p.c., Emulsin, mucilage 3 p.c., proteins (myosin, vitellin, conglutin) 24 - 30 p.c., precipitated by acetic acid, sugar 6 p.c., ash 3.5 p.c.--K, Ca, Mg -- phosphates); yield volatile oil 1 p.c.; hydrocyanic acid .25 p.c.

Amygdalin: C H O N. A crystalline cyanogenetic glucoside obtained from expressed cake (deprived of fixed oil) by boiling in alcohol, distilling to syrup, adding water and yeast, and then allowing fermentation. After this, filter, evaporate to syrup, add alcohol to precipitate amygdalin and gum, from which boiling alcohol takes up the former, depositing it upon cooling.

Emulsin (synaptase): A ferment (enzyme) coagulated by heat, precipitated by alcohol, but not by acetic acid, and, in the presence of water, acts upon amygdalin, forming glucose, C H O, hydrocyanic acid, HCN, (1 part being formed from 17 of amygdalin), and benzaldehyde, C HO -- oil of bitter almond 1 - 4 p.c.; C H O N + 2H0 equals 2(C H O) + HCN + C HO.

Oleum Amygdalae Amarae: Oil of Bitter Almond. This volatile oil, like volatile oil of mustard, oil of gaultheria, and methyl salicylate, does not preexist in the kernels (seeds), but results from macerating with water for 12 hours the expressed cake of bitter almonds, wherein amygdalin undergoes fermentation, then distilling the oil formed by passing steam through the mixture. Kernels of the peach (P. Persica) and apricot (P. Armeni'aca) yield much of the commercial oil, which may also be prepared synthetically from toluene. (See benzaldehydum, page 278). It is a clear, colorless, yellowish, strongly refractive liquid, characteristic odor and taste of benzaldehyde, soluble in alcohol, ether, slightly in water; forms clear solution in 70 p.c. alcohol (2); sp. Gr. 1,028 - 1.060, optically inactive or dextrorotatory, at first neutral, but becomes acid from the formation of benzoic acid. Yields not less than 85 p.c. of benzaldehyde, C HCHO, and 204 p.c. of hydrocyanic acid, HCN (sometimes as much as 8 - 10 p.c.). When freed from this latter it is less poisonous, but even then has a marked physiological action on the nervous system. Impurities: Nitrobenzene, chlorinated products, heavy metals. The label must indicate definitely its specific source, as this is intended for medicinal use and not for flavoring foods. Should be kept dark, cool, in small well-stoppered, completely filled, amber-colored bottles, and when showing crystals (benzoic acid) must not be dispensed. Dose: ml/4-1 (.016 - .06 cc.).

Amygdalus communis: Amygdalus communis: fruit in the act of 1. Flowering twig; 2. Twig with fruit; opening 3. Fruit hull cracked off; 4. Seed deprived of hull; 5. Vertical section of flower; 6. Longitudinal section of seed.


Oil: 1. Elixir Amygdaloe Compositum, N.C., 1/20 p.c.: Preps: 1. Elixir Bromidorum Trium, N.F., q.s. 2. Emulsa - as flavoring when preferred. 3. Spiritus Amygdaloe Amaroe, N.C., 1 p.c. Dose: mxv-30 (1 - 2 cc.). Preps: 1. Elixir Anisi, N.F., 1.2 p.c. 2. Elixir Terpini Hydratis, N.C., ½ p.c.

Unoff. Preps: Water (oil 1/10 p.c., 3j-3 (4 - 12 cc.). Syrup (spt. of bitter almond 1, orange flower water 10, syrup q.s. 100), 3ij-4 (8 - 15 cc.).


Demulcent, nutrient, sedative. Often produces urticaria.


Coughs, pulmonary troubles, flavoring.

Poisoning: Here have hydrocyanic acid symptoms. Hence, give emetics to induce vomiting, galvanism, brandy, whisky, ammonia to nostrils, etc.

Allied Products

Benzaldehydum. Benzaldehyde

C H CHO, U.S.P. -- (Syn., Benzald., Oleum Amygdalarum Aethereum (Articifiale)-sine Acide Prussico, Synthetic Oil of Bitter Almond; Fr. Aldehyde benzoique; Ger. Kunstliches Bittermandelol.) An aldehyde produced synthetically or from oil of bitter almond, containing not less than 85 p.c. of benzaldehyde.

Manufacture: 1. Shake oil of bitter almond (peach, apricot, etc.) with concentrated solution of acid solium sulphite (3) to form crystalline sodium benzalhydroxysulphonate, wash with cold alcohol, treat with strong sodium carbonate solution, reactify by distillation with steam.  2. Treat boiling toluene, C7 H8, with chlorine, heat resulting benzyl chloride with barium nitrate and water. While passing carbon dioxide through the mixture, the benzyl nitrate formed decomposes into benzaldehyde and oxides of nitrogen. It is a colorless, yellowish, refractive liquid, bitter almond-like odor, burning aromatic taste, soluble in water (350 degrees), miscible with alcohol, ether, fixed or volatile oils; sp.gr. 1.045; differs from oil of bitter almond in having no hydrocyanic acid. Tests: 1. Shake .5cc with distilled water 5 cc., + sodium hydroxide T.S. .5 cc., + ferrous sulphate T.S. .1 cc., warm gently, + excess of hydrochloric acid -- no greenish-blue color or blue precipitate within 15 minutes (abs. of hydrocyanic acid). 2. Dissolve 1 cc. in alcohol (20), + distilled water until turbid, evolve hydrogen 1 hour by adding zinc and diluted sulphuric acid, filter, evaporate to 20 cc.; of this boil 10 cc. + a drop of potassium dichromate T.S. -- not violet (abs. of nitrobenzene). Impurities: Hydrocyanic acid, chlorinated compounds, nitrobenzene. Should be kept dark, in small, well-stoppered bottles. Dose: m1/4 - 1 (.016 - .06 cc.).

Properties And Uses

Similar to oil of bitter almond; largely as a flavoring agent, having the advantage of the oil in being devoid of hydrocyanic acid, and not being poisonous except in large quantities.

Nitrobenzene, Nitrobensol, Oil of Mirbane

False artificial oil of bitter almond is obtained by acting on benzene with nitric acid. It is very poisonous, has the true bitter almond oil odor, owing to which substitution has been made with fatal results; should not be taken internally - used for flavoring soaps, making aniline, etc.