How long does it take to pass a cherry pit?

In this article, we will answer the question “how long does it take to pass the cherry pit?” and discuss what determines the digestion time, and what are the risks of eating a cherry pit.

How long does it take to pass a cherry pit?

It takes from 14 hours to 33 hours for a cherry pit to pass if you swallow it. 

The entire digestive process can vary from a half day to one and a half day, depending on many factors, which will be discussed in the following sections of this article (1,2).

The digestive process, which involves 11 organs in the body, can take the following times, depending on the digestion stage:

  • Mouth / esophagus: some seconds to minutes
  • Stomach: 15 minutes to 4 hours
  • Small intestine: 1 to 5 hours
  • Large intestine: 12 to 24 hours

What determines the digestion time?

The digestion time is determined by the following factors (1,2):

  • The meal composition: while meals composed with a high amount of fats and proteins take longer to be digested, carbohydrate rich meals need a shorter time
  • Mastication: how much the food is fragmented in the mouth can determine the digestion duration, because more mastication can favor digestion, as they are mixed with saliva
  • The efficacy of the digestion in the stomach: gastric juices are released into the stomach to perform the digestion, food is fragmented and softened
  • The stomach peristalsis: stomach peristalsis promotes the stomach emptying, moving the food to the intestine
  • The digestive process in the small intestines: food is digested by enzymes and absorbed. Complex food requires longer digestion processes and the ratio of food: enzyme can vary, influencing the digestion process
  • The digestive process in the large intestines: water absorption rate and intestinal transit can vary
  • Individual characteristics: the digestive process varies among individuals and ages, which also may determine the time needed to complete the entire digestive process 

What Happens if you swallow cherry pits?

When you swallow cherry pits, the cherry pit will follow the normal digestion process, as any food. 

If the cherry pit has been broken by mastication, this can lead to the faster release of hydrogen cyanide by the enzymatic conversion of amygdalin. Amygdalin is a cyanogenic glycoside found in the cherry pit and in other fruit kernels (3).

If the cherry pit has been swallowed whole, hydrogen will take longer to be released in the body. However, in both cases if the amount of cherry pits are great enough (over 10 units), this can cause adverse reactions, as hydrogen cyanide is toxic to humans. 

About 12 seeds can cause toxicity or lead to adverse reactions, according to recent publications of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (4).

What are the risks of swallowing cherry pits?

1. Poisoning:

The stone itself is not a poison but contains a cyanogenic glucoside, called amygdalin. If crushed with teeth before swallowing it, amygdalin gets converted to hydrogen cyanide, which can cause poisoning and and lead to symptoms such as nausea, headache, and seizures, irregular breathing, rapid breathing, weak movements, uncontrolled movements, tremor, spasms, loss of consciousness, decreased respiration capacity, convulsions, coma and even death (3,4). 

2. Choking Hazard:

While eating anything, one hazard that is always present is choking hazard. You can choke on anything If you are not careful. Choking on fruit seeds is very common in children and adults as well. Many cases of choking of the airways have been reported due to the ingestion of fruit seeds (5)

3. Gastric obstruction:

Gastric obstruction through the ingestion of plant materials such as seeds is called bezoar. Because fruit seeds contain a high amount of fiber, the ingestion of fruit seeds or other fiber rich foods can cause the accumulation of material and consequently the obstruction of the gastric tract (6). 

Other FAQs about Cherry that you may be interested in.

Can I freeze cherries

Should cherries be refrigerated

Can you eat overripe cherries?


In this brief article, we have answered the question “how long does it take to pass the cherry pit?” and discussed what determines the digestion time, and what are the risks of eating a cherry pit.


  1. Sensoy I. A review on the food digestion in the digestive tract and the used in vitro models. Curr Res Food Sci. 2021, 14, 308-319 
  2. The Human Body. The Digestive System. University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Food Science and Human Nutrition Program.  
  3. Simeonova, Fina Petrova, Lawrence Fishbein, and World Health Organization. Hydrogen cyanide and cyanides: human health aspects. World Health Organization, 2004. 
  4. EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM). Acute health risks related to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides in raw apricot kernels and products derived from raw apricot kernels. Efsa Journal, 2016, 14, e04424.
  5. Abdullat, Emad M., et al. Choking among infants and young children. Jordan J Biol Sci, 2015, 8, 205-209.
  6. Wang, Pei-Yuan, et al. Bezoar-induced small bowel obstruction: Clinical characteristics and diagnostic value of multi-slice spiral computed tomography. World j gastroenterol, 2015, 21,: 9774.

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