Carbon-60 – Fullerene and its Health Providing Properties

James Odell, OMD, ND, L.Ac.

Carbon-60 is a member of the carbon family, alongside hard, transparent diamond, and soft, black, conductive graphite. It was only recently discovered in 1985 by four scientists: James Heath, Richard Smalley, Sean O’Brien, and Robert Curl. The discovery of Carbon 60 led to Kroto, Curl, and Smalley being awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. To the researchers, their newly discovered Carbon 60 molecule reminded them of the futuristic geodesic domes popularized in the 1930s by Buckminster Fuller, an American architect, and inventor. So, they named the Carbon 60 molecule “buckminsterfullerene”, which these days is usually shortened to “fullerene” or “buckyball”.

Essentially, carbon-60 is comprised of 60 carbon atoms which are arranged in a unique shape that can be thought of as a ‘carbon cage’. Due to their geometry, these structures are unusually strong for their weight, being composed of interconnected hexagons and pentagons. The structure is technically called a truncated icosahedron, one of an infinite number of spheroidal cages that can be formed with hexagons and pentagons. This unique shape is what imparts C-60 with its incredible properties, including being resistant to radiation, chemical corrosion, and breakage under high pressure. Carbon-60 also readily reacts with other substances and can easily combine with just about any compound to enhance its action. Interestingly, some forms of fullerene, including C-60, C-72, C-76, C-82, and C-84 have been found to occur naturally in soot, lightning discharges, and in the minerals known as shungite, found in Russia.

In the early 1990s, there was much speculation about the potential uses of fullerenes. After all, they represented an unexpected new form of crystalline carbon (joining graphite and diamond, both of which have many commercial uses); they have elegant forms (C-60 has a soccer-ball shape), and they are hollow (suggesting that they could be filled with other compounds). These all-carbon molecules captured the attention of scientists and laymen alike and generated considerable coverage by the popular press. Since then, all these aspects of C-60 have made it the center of much research worldwide for several decades. Much of this research has focused on its numerous application potentialities in several fields of industry, but more recently in the areas of biology and medicine.


Most of the biological and medical research carried out on C-60 is based on animal models (rats, mice). However, there is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence that supports these same findings in humans too, provided that the source of carbon-60 is pure or not combined with a toxic compound. The following describes research into a few of the many specific health benefits of carbon-60.

Antioxidant Properties

The endogenous production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as superoxide anion, singlet oxygen, hydroxyl radical, and hydrogen peroxide, is a consequence of cellular respiration, processed from mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. At a moderate level, ROS are recognized to be physically involved in cell signaling and required for the biochemical energetics of life. However, when ROS overwhelms the cellular antioxidant defense system, oxidative stress occurs and causes damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Oxidative stress is associated with or potentially implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration, musculoskeletal disorders, and numerous other pathologies. Thus, it is of therapeutic value to reduce oxidative stress by removing excess ROS with extrinsic antioxidants. This is why antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, co-enzyme Q-10, and others have become so commercially popular.

Carbon 60 molecules are very good electron acceptors, meaning that they readily accept free electrons from other substances. This means that C-60 can be oxidized, (is a strong antioxidant) happily taking on extra electrons, such as those released during oxidative stress, although they will also readily release electrons under the right conditions. Ever since the first experiments were conducted on C-60, it was concluded that this molecule acts as a potent reactive oxidative species sponge, mopping up any ROS that it encounters.1, 2, 3

In fact, it has been reported that this molecule has an antioxidant capacity several hundred times higher than other antioxidants.4 Not only has C-60 been shown to be several hundred times more powerful than conventional antioxidants, but it can actually “reset” itself. So, while typical antioxidants usually only neutralize one free-radical at a time, C-60’s free radical neutralizing power is multifaceted and does not easily diminish. It appears that the oxidative free radicals neutralized do not affect its shape or function, allowing for it to continuously reduce ROS until it is eliminated from the body (which has been shown in the Baati study to be 97 hours from the bloodstream of rats).5

Another research paper showed that a specific malonic acid form of C-60 mimicked the action of superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant, thus removing superoxide.6 Superoxide contributes to the pathogenesis of many diseases (the evidence is particularly strong for radiation poisoning and hyperoxic injury), and perhaps also to aging via the oxidative damage that it inflicts on cells.

Research confirms that besides neutralizing or scavenging ROS, C-60 is also capable of neutralizing other environmental pollutants via chemical reduction reactions.7

Non-Toxic and Potentially Increases Longevity

Research in 2012, the Paris or Baati study on the toxicity of C-60, showed that not only was C-60 non-toxic to rats but that it almost doubled their lifespan. Possibly because of its high levels of antioxidant activity, with the ability to “mop up” free radicals hundreds of times better than standard antioxidants.

Their findings revealed that it increases the lifespan of rats by 90%. The authors concluded, “These results of importance in the fields of medicine and toxicology should open the way for the many possible -and waited for- biomedical applications of C60 including cancer therapy, neurodegenerative disorders, and aging. 8

Other toxicity studies have also shown that C-60 is nontoxic.9, 10, 11

Ionizing Radio-Protective

Ionizing radiation is a ubiquitous feature of the cosmos, from exogenous cosmic rays to the intrinsic mineral radioactivity of a habitable world. It is also a significant part of current diagnostic and therapeutic medical technology. Its detrimental influences on life are well documented, wide-ranging, and profound. Damage to normal tissues is a consequence of both therapeutic and accidental exposures to ionizing radiation. Total body radiation exposures can result in lethality due to hematopoietic damage, intestinal damage, and central nervous system damage. Several compounds have been described that protect tissues from exposure to ionizing radiation, including C-60. Because C-60 compounds are known to possess antioxidant properties, this allows them to also act as chemical radioprotectors. Numerous studies demonstrate C-60 protects against ionizing radiation and possibly non-ionizing radiation or electro-smog.12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Thus, it appears that preloading the body with C-60 is a wise option prior to medical irradiation procedures.

Prevents Mitochondrial Dysfunction

Mitochondria are organelles within eukaryotic cells that produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main energy molecule used by the cell. For this reason, the mitochondrion is sometimes referred to as “the powerhouse of the cell”. Mitochondria are analogous to a furnace or a powerhouse in the cell because, like furnaces and powerhouses, mitochondria produce energy from basic components (in this case, molecules that have been broken down so that they can be used).

The number of mitochondria in a cell depends on how much energy that cell needs to produce. Muscle cells, for example, have many mitochondria because they need to produce energy to move the body. Red blood cells, which carry oxygen to other cells, have none; they do not need to produce energy.

It has been shown that water-soluble C-60 prevents mitochondrial dysfunction, which in turn promotes longevity, as well as optimal health, and increased energy levels.19 It appears that part of C-60’s ability to promote longevity is also due to its high affinity for both cellular and mitochondrial membranes.20

Improves Immune Function

Aside from protecting mitochondria and cells from oxidative free radical damage, water-soluble C-60 has been shown to stimulate the immune system in several ways. These include stimulating the production of immune cells such as lymphocytes (white blood cells) and useful cytokines, such as TNF-alpha, both of which play an important role in fighting off infections and even tumor cells.21, 22, 23

Reduces Inflammation, Arthritic Symptoms, and Cartilage Degeneration

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a debilitating disease characterized by degenerative changes in articular cartilage, bone, and other surrounding tissues. Recent research has established that the components of both the innate and adaptive immune systems, including multiple cell types, cytokines, chemokines, and complements, play crucial roles in OA pathogenesis. These components act in concert in the early stage of OA.

Because C-60 is such a potent oxidative free radical scavenger, it can also reduce inflammation, especially as seen in OA. In both human cell cultures and in rats that had osteoarthritis, water-soluble C-60 suppressed inflammation in the joints and bones.24, 25, 26, 27

Studies reveal that C-60 can inhibit the inflammatory response by reducing ROS production and down-regulating the expression of inflammatory chemicals. In doing so, C-60 has the potential to inhibit the progression of OA and thus should be considered as a new non-toxic anti-inflammatory for the treatment of OA. Also, from a mitochondrial perspective, C-60 can return mitochondria back into balance, which corrects the immune system and results in less bodily inflammation.

Prevents Neuron Apoptosis and Promotes Neuron Regeneration

Oxidative stress (ROS) is one of the primary processes responsible for brain injuries in neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. During transient ischemia-reperfusion, there are several mechanisms for generating ROS, including the metabolism of free fatty acids via the cyclooxygenase pathway and the metabolism of adenine nucleotides via the xanthine oxidase pathway. These ROS contain extremely reactive unpaired electron(s), which may attack lipid, protein, and deoxyribonucleic acid, and can lead to neuron cell death or apoptosis. Neurons die and are replaced every day in a healthy individual. However, in the case of Alzheimer’s disease and many other neurodegenerative disorders, too many neurons die which results in memory loss, cognitive decline, and many other problems.

Research shows that C-60 by scavenging oxidative free radicals protects neurons from excitotoxic and apoptotic injuries and is beneficial in preventing neurodegenerative disorders as well as ischemia oxidative injuries in brain tissue.28, 29, 30, 31, 32

In one study, human neurons were cultured in vitro and then exposed to neuron-deadly excitotoxins. These cells were protected from apoptosis by C-60 between 50-80%, with the 80% end of the range being for aspartame (NMDA). This study also concluded that water-soluble C60 is not an excitotoxin and does not exhibit any toxicity to the brain or nervous system. It also makes carbon-60 look very promising as a treatment option for cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.33

There is also evidence that shows C-60 actively promotes the growth of new neurons. Several fullerene 60 derivatives were tested in vitro and proven to support neuronal growth.34

In another study on Alzheimer’s Disease, it was shown that a specific C-60 derivative destroys amyloid-beta plaques, which means that it may help to reverse the condition.35

The blood vessels that feed the body’s central nervous system can tightly regulate the movement of substances including cells, molecules, and ions between blood vessel walls and the cerebrospinal system including the brain and cerebrospinal fluid. A C-60 molecule measures just 1 nanometer. Like other tiny molecules, it can permeate the body’s membranes, including the blood-brain barrier. Its unique properties combined with its ability to bypass cellular membranes, including the blood-brain barrier36 as well as its unique affinity for mitochondria, and cellular membranes, place C-60 in a league of its own.37

Clinical Summary

C-60 and derivatives have shown successful applications in intensive biomedical research due to their unparalleled physical and chemical properties. Primarily, C-60 is a powerful electron donor that works at the cellular level by lifting the oxidative burden, allowing the mitochondria and other cellular processes to function normally. As an antioxidant, it has the potential of providing numerous health benefits such as reducing inflammation, improving cellular immunity, protecting against harmful ionizing radiation, and providing neurological protection and even regeneration of neurons.

How is C-60 Manufactured

Originally, the carbon 60 manufactured by Kroto, Curl, and Smalley was created using a laser beam to vaporize carbon, which was then passed through a stream of high-density helium gas. The carbon was then cooled and ionized to create clusters of carbon clusters, including carbon 60 molecules. However, it is difficult to make useful amounts of C-60 using this approach.

These days, most C-60 is manufactured in the laboratory, using an electric arc between two carbon electrodes to create charcoal-like soot from which the C-60 fullerene molecules can be extracted. The soot created by this process is treated with organic solvents and passed through special extraction laboratory equipment to extract the C-60, along with other fullerenes. This is a difficult process, as C-60 does not readily dissolve in many solvents.

The extracted C-60 can be separated and purified further using chromatography, after which the solvents are fully evaporated to produce C-60 powders that are as pure as 99.9% and higher.

C-60 is a fully hydrophobic molecule and has poor solubility in water, which greatly limits its biomedical functions. To solve this problem, numerous preparation techniques have been developed, which resulted in a wide range of C-60 derivatives. Because C-60 is very difficult to dissolve – being non-soluble in water and only slightly soluble in oil, it requires the manufacturer to add 5 – 6 times more C-60 to a certain volume of oil than will dissolve (become permanently suspended) within a solution to reach maximum saturation. Most studies into the effects of C-60 have combined it with olive oil. Olive oil provides several health benefits of its own and is a good vehicle for the delivery of the C-60.

The best manufacturers mix the C-60 oil with a high-speed mechanical stirring device for a period of two weeks (never less) in a sealed dark room until complete saturation is reached. Afterward, the resultant oil is centrifuged to remove all non-suspended C-60 particles with a large centrifuge at roughly 4000 – 5000 g for 1 hour. Once this is done the resultant oil is then filtered through a 0.22-micron filter, glass bottled, sealed, and prepared for shipping. Some suppliers cut corners in the manufacturing process by sourcing a lesser purity C-60 prior to manufacturing and shorting the mixing time for greater turnover. It is always best to check with the supplier as to their manufacturing process.


The most common dosage of C-60 taken by people is one teaspoon per day (approximately 5 ml). There are about 20 teaspoons in a 100 ml bottle. After gauging results from that baseline, some people chose to increase to two teaspoons per day (approximately 10 ml), while others chose to dial back their dosage to 1-3 ml per day. C-60 oil can be taken any time of day, with or without food, depending on personal preference.


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