What Happens If You Swallow a Cherry Seed

Cherries are delicious. But what happens if you swallow a cherry seed? The pit looks harmless, but that’s not the case. Find out here why and what happens if you swallow a cherry seed.

Will This Poisonous Seed Really Sprout and Grow In Your Stomach?

The answer is no, you won’t grow a cherry tree in your stomach. The myth about swallowing cherry pits is likely since people used to believe that cherry seeds contained ricin, a highly poisonous compound.

This myth likely originated from the fact that cherry seeds do contain a small amount of cyanide. Since cyanide is toxic, most people assume that all parts of a cherry, including the seed, must be poisonous. However, cyanide only occurs naturally in low quantities in many foods and plants because it’s usually quickly converted into thiocyanate (or “thiocyanogen”), which is not poisonous.

This happens because thiocyanate has a higher boiling point than cyanide and can therefore be easily removed during cooking or processing. That’s why you’ll find plenty of foods with high levels of cyanide (like almonds) that are safe to eat in moderation — they’ve already been cooked so that any traces of cyanide have been removed.

The same thing applies with cherries — if you boil them for long enough or cook them thoroughly enough during processing so that no trace remains (such as by making jam), then there’s nothing left for a seed to convert into deadly poison once it’s inside your body.

What Is Cyanide and Why Do Cherry Seeds Contain It?

Cyanide is a chemical compound that prevents cells from getting oxygen. It’s used to make plastics, inks, and dyes. People who work with cyanide must be protected by special breathing equipment because even a small amount of cyanide can kill you quickly.

Cherry seeds are high in amygdalin, a naturally occurring chemical compound that breaks down into hydrogen cyanide when processed by the body. Therefore, eating too many cherry pits can cause poisoning. The seeds are safe to eat if they’re cooked or ground up because the amygdalin doesn’t make it into your system in those cases.

  • Cherry seeds are poisonous because they contain cyanide. Cyanide is a deadly chemical that prevents cells from using oxygen and can cause death by asphyxiation.

Cyanide is found in the seeds of several plants, including apple and peach trees, apricots, bitter almonds, plums, and cherries. In small amounts, cyanide is not dangerous to humans because it’s quickly excreted through urine or feces. However, when ingested in large quantities, cyanide can cause nausea and vomiting within minutes. If you swallow enough cyanide, your heart rate will increase as your body attempts to pump more blood through your body to get rid of the poison. Breathing may become difficult as the heart rate rises, causing a person to hyperventilate. Severe poisoning can lead to seizure, coma and death within minutes or hours after ingestion.

They Can Pass Through Your System Normally.

Cherry seeds are not poisonous, but they do have a pit and it’s possible to swallow one. If you swallow a cherry seed, it can pass through your system normally. Some people may experience mild cramping or bloating because the pit takes up space in their digestive tract, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

The pit itself is not toxic, but it can cause some discomfort if swallowed. The pit contains a small amount of amygdalin, which converts into hydrogen cyanide in your body. Hydrogen cyanide is a highly poisonous chemical that can cause death by respiratory failure if ingested in large quantities. However, these amounts are not present in cherries or seeds.

Cherry seeds contain amygdalin, a chemical compound that breaks down into hydrogen cyanide when it enters the body. The amount of cyanide released from cherry seeds is not enough to cause illness or death, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, if you are allergic to almonds or related fruits (apricots and peaches), you may be at risk for an allergic reaction to cherry seeds.

There are two types of cherry seeds: sweet cherries and sour cherries. The sour variety has more amygdalin than sweet cherries, so it’s safer to eat them without removing the seed first, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). However, both types of cherries have been linked to cyanide poisoning in humans. The ACS says that between 1986 and 1996 there were at least four reported cases of cyanide poisoning from eating too many sour cherry pits or drinking beverages made with them.

They May Get Caught in Your Digestive Tract.

Cherry seeds contain amygdalin, a substance that breaks down in the body to form hydrogen cyanide. But don’t panic — the amount of hydrogen cyanide produced isn’t enough to harm you.

  • The seeds are generally considered safe to swallow, but you might want to avoid them if you have a known allergy to cherries or apricots.

If you do swallow one, it may get caught in your digestive tract. The seed will pass through your system without any problems, but it can be uncomfortable and cause a bout of diarrhea or vomiting.

If you swallow a cherry seed, it’s likely to pass through your digestive tract without much trouble. Cherry seeds are small and soft, so they may get caught in your digestive tract, but they’re unlikely to cause any serious problems.

  • If the seed gets stuck in your esophagus or stomach, you may experience some discomfort. But it usually passes through your system without incident.

A cherry seed can also cause a blockage if it gets lodged in an appendix, tonsil or other part of the gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to serious complications such as peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane lining the abdominal cavity) or sepsis (a severe infection throughout the body).

They Might Irritate Your Digestive Tract.

  • Cherry seeds are small and bitter, but they’re completely edible. As long as you don’t swallow them, there’s no reason to worry about them.
  • If you do swallow a cherry seed, it’s possible that it might irritate your digestive tract. The seed’s hard shell makes it difficult to digest, which can cause some discomfort.
  • Choking is also a possibility if the seed gets stuck in your throat or mouth. This usually happens because the seed has gotten caught between your teeth or tongue, or because it has been swallowed whole and doesn’t have any chewing action to break it down first.


Cherry seeds and pits are safe to eat. The only real concern that comes with ingesting cherry seeds is the presence of cyanide which is found in several components of a cherry. Chewing the pits can cause gas to develop in the gastrointestinal tract.