What Happens To Your Body If You Swallow A Cherry Pit

Cherries are a tasty summer fruit that contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Like plums and apricots, cherries are a type of fleshy stone fruit (via Healthline). Stone fruits contain seeds in the center of the fruit, which is enclosed by a hard pit, also known as a stone. These pits contain amygdalin — a chemical that your body converts into hydrogen cyanide when consumed. Hydrogen cyanide is a toxic compound that can deprive your body of oxygen and damage your vital organs.

While cherry pits are supposed to be spit out, they are sometimes swallowed by accident, especially by children. Despite containing potentially toxic properties, however, swallowing a cherry pit is unlikely to cause any harm (via LiveStrong). As it turns out, swallowing cherry pits whole generally does not lead to cyanide toxicity. That's because they're indigestible, which means that they'll pass through your intestines without ever breaking down. Swallowing cherry pits is more of a choking hazard than anything else.

Are cherry pits poisonous?

Swallowing a cherry pit whole is one thing, but chewing a cherry pit is a different story. For example, red cherry pits contain 3.9 grams of amygdalin per gram of fruit. Depending on the type of pit eaten, this can produce anywhere from 0.01 to 1.1 milligrams of hydrogen cyanide inside your body (via Heathline). You may be at risk for cyanide toxicity if 0.2 to 1.6 milligrams of hydrogen cyanide per pound of body weight is present in the body. Using the red cherry pit example, chewing and swallowing anywhere from seven to nine pits can pose potential harm. 

Although cyanide poisoning from cherry pits is rare, it usually occurs in children and can be dangerous or even life-threatening. While the exact effects of cyanide poisoning depend on the amount that's ingested, symptoms that indicate a potentially dangerous amount of hydrogen cyanide has built up in the body, include headache, nausea, difficulty breathing, seizures, and convulsions. If your child has accidentally chewed and swallowed multiple cherry pits and you start to see symptoms develop, you will want to seek immediate medical attention.