Getting Supplements Out of the Gut and into the Cell with Liposomal Encapsulation

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Hello, Health Conscious Friends:

Today’s article is meant to show you step by step how to make liposomal ascorbic acid (vitamin C), such that the ascorbic acid is at a fairly high concentration. Making it yourself will save you a lot of money, which makes it easier to justify adding liposomal ascorbic acid to your health regimen.

There are a number of supplements that can be very effective but either do not get absorbed well through the intestinal wall or are readily metabolized by the liver into something that is quickly excreted by the body. Some common ones are vitamin C (ascorbic acid), glutathione, EDTA, and curcumin. I’m sure there are many others, but these particular supplements have tremendous utility for detoxification, controlling pathogens and inflammation. 

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is well known to have both anti-oxidant effects at smaller doses and oxidizing effects at larger doses. It is these large doses which studies and much anecdotal evidence suggest that it can effectively help the body to eliminate various pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungal agents. In extremely high doses, administered usually by IV, ascorbic acid has shown some anti-tumor effects. From what I understand the biochemical method is the increase of local production of hydrogen peroxide which kills the various pathogens or tumor cells.

Getting high dose ascorbic acid can be problematic because as the oral dose increases it is absorbed less and the bowel becomes osmotically perfused with fluids so that we end up with diarrhea. Great if you are constipated, but not if you are trying to absorb large quantities of ascorbic acid!
One method of absorbing more ascorbic acid is to take it orally in near bowel tolerance amounts, but as frequently as possible. This works to get more into the body, but a lot of ascorbic acid is wasted.

Liposomes are created resulting from the amazing ability of phospholipids to create what amounts to tiny spheres (about 200-300 nanometers) with an outside layer of phospholipid and the inside filled with an aqueous solution of, in this case, ascorbic acid. It is the small size of the liposome and the fact that its outer coat is essentially cell membrane-like that allows the liposome to freely pass through the gut wall into the blood stream and then also pass through the various cell walls, too. Thus the ascorbic acid is essentially being delivered certainly as well as IV, perhaps better since it can readily penetrate the tissue cell walls, too.

For use to control infections, especially ones that are hard to treat with conventional antibiotics, high dose ascorbic acid is a very good option that we have with liposomal ascorbic acid. But, there is an upper limit to liposomal ascorbic acid use if for no other reason than ascorbic acid has a limited solubility in water (about 1g/3 ml) and about half of this particular liposomal composition is lecithin, i.e. phospholipids. So, for those thinking of using liposomal ascorbic acid to replace 50-100g IV “pushes”, well, it is just not going to work without drinking a lot of liposomal ascorbic acid. But, if you are seeking about 3-20g for purposes of anti-infectious agents, free radical control (especially in the cardiovascular system) or whenever extra vitamin C may be called for, then liposomal ascorbic acid is the way to go.

I have read articles which suggest that liposomal ascorbic acid is more effective than IV ascorbic acid. My suspicion is that effectiveness may depend on the intended application. I would not just assume that liposomal ascorbic acid is 10 times as effective as IV.

I now include daily dose (about 6g of vitamin C in liposomal form) in my own supplement regimen and I have noticed how it helped my chronic sinusitis and I noticed when checking my own blood panels, that my C-Reactive Protein (HS,high sensitivity) was cut in half after 2 weeks of use. Also, I went through the entire cold and flu season without getting anything.

The basic method of liposomal vitamin C preparation is detailed in numerous places on the internet, but they are for small amounts or they do not concentrate the ascorbic acid as much as can be. Also, I have optimized the amount of lecithin needed to get the maximum liposome creation. Some recipes simply did not have enough lecithin.

The initial method of using an ultrasonic cleaner to create ever smaller liposomes was confirmed by (I believe) Brooks Bradley who actually has access to an electron microscope and could measure the liposomes thus created. Thankfully for us, this works very well, almost as good as the use of very high pressure plates in the commercially created products. The efficiency is somewhat less (typically 70-90% of the ascorbic acid is actually encapsulated) for ultrasonically created liposomes.

There are numerous tests to determine a batch’s efficiency in creating liposomes, but from my own experience, simply tasting the aqueous solution of ascorbic acid before adding the lecithin and then making the liposomal ascorbic acid and then later taste the finished product works fine. It goes from very tart to something you can barely taste the ascorbic acid. That is what you should experience. With time (about 4 weeks), I have noticed that refrigerator stored liposomal ascorbic acid does slowly become more tart but it is still very effective.

Because ascorbic acid is inexpensive and can probably be used by most people for their benefit, and the preparation of liposomal ascorbic acid is fairly straight forward, I thought this would be a good place and time to give instructions on its preparation.

Materials and Supplies
Digital Scale: I have a scale which can handle up to 450 g and precision of 0.1 g; for this article's application 1 g precision would be fine. Having a taring ability, i.e. ability to zero out the scale with a container on it into which things can be weighed helps.
Silicon Rubber Spatula: I got this from the Dollar Store. Absolutely will need this.
Hand Drill, with variable speed: I have been using a Black and Decker that I got from Home Depot.
Adjustable metal drive clamp: This is an easy to find hardware store item. It is a simple metal band that has a screw to increase or decrease the band’s diameter. We use it to pull the drill’s trigger in and thus adjust the speed of the stirring action. You can probably find a single one large enough. In my case, I had two smaller clamps that I fitted together to do the same thing.
Lab support stand, 36": Check out eBay for this and some of the other lab related equipment. You may use a shorter one, but will need to cut the stirrer rod with a hack saw.
OR
Consider an
Electric Drill Stand: this allows you to mount your drill on a stand. It’s intended use is as drill press, but you just need it for holding the drill and stirrer over the bowl or ultrasonic cleaner. Again, you will probably need to shorten the stirrer rod which is intended for use in a 5 gallon paint pail. Here are some examples:

Clark Tools
(21.6 inch/550mm column height)

One eBay Example
(Unknown column height)

One Amazon Example
(19.5 inches high)

Lab clamp, 3-pronged large enough to hold the hand drill: again eBay; measure your drill handle and make sure the clamp can accommodate it. Won’t need this if you use the drill stand instead.
Paint stirrer that fits into the hand drill (You will want to clean this before using): my local hardware store. This is the one with smaller paddles for the stirrer part.
Light weight plastic containers to weigh out the lecithin and ascorbic acid: previously had food in them
Measuring cup: actually, I used graduated cylinders and flasks, but a simple glass measuring cup will work fine. One that measures a liter would be perfect.
Microwave: I use this to pre-heat the water before adding the ascorbic acid. Heated water dissolves the ascorbic acid much faster and it is possible to achieve higher concentrations this way.
Microwavable bowel: Glass or ceramic is fine. This bowl needs to be deep enough to use the over head stirrer, i.e. the drill and paint stirrer, and not spill or fling product around your kitchen.
Ultrasonic Cleaner: 2.5 liter, Kendal with heater (which I do not use for liposomal ascorbic acid), time settings up to 480 seconds/8 minutes per cycle. Got this from Amazon for about $80. Easy to use and clean. Recommended.
High Speed Blender: You will need a heavy duty motor with speeds up around 28K RPM. Retail blenders like Blendtec or Vitamix will work fine. I doubt if you can get the correct fluidity of the emulsified lecithin and ascorbic acid without this equipment.
Large funnel: a simple polypropylene one will do.
Lecithin: I have been using non-GMO soy lecithin which I get from Swanson’s; lecithin is a pretty pure soy product and you really do not need to worry about any of the soy negative qualities when just using lecithin. But, if you have an allergy to soy, you may wish to use sunflower seed lecithin instead.
Ascorbic acid: The best price to date has been from msm-msm.com (PC Network when on Amazon). Others include eBay, bulksupplements.com, purebulk.com.

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Steps to Create Liposomal Ascorbic Acid
1. Measure out 1800 ml of purified or distilled water. I use RPO (reverse phase osmosis) water. Do not use tap water. Put this in the ceramic/glass bowl.

2. Heat the bowl of water in the microwave to hot, but not boiling. In my microwave I use medium at 10 minutes.

3. While waiting for the water to heat up, measure out the lecithin, 300 g, and the ascorbic acid, 350 g, into the plastic containers.

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4. When the water is hot, put the bowl under the stirrer, turn on the stirrer-drill by plugging it in, adjust the speed of the stirrer, and slowly add the pre-weighed ascorbic acid as the water is stirred. If when you turn off the drill the water is clear, then you know you do not need to stir any longer.

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5. Now, turn the stirrer on again, and slowly add the pre-weighed lecithin. At first the lecithin is granular. 

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6. Let the stirring continue for about 1.5 to 2 hrs. Lately, I have found that 1.5 hrs is sufficient. You are looking for a very thick, but even consistency mix. You may find that the stirrer flings the mixed lecithin off the paint stirrer rod, so putting a tent of magazines or newspaper around the stirrer will prevent this extra mess. Clean off the stirrer paddles.

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7. The next step is critical for most of the liposomal products that I have experimented with: using the high speed blender to essentially fluidize the lecithin mix with tiny air bubbles so that when you finally are using the ultrasonic cleaner, the lecithin mix is thin enough to properly stir in the 2.5 L container of the ultrasonic cleaner and move across the ultrasonic transducer evenly. I use a Blendtec, so it may differ from your blender, but I pour about 4 cups of the lecithin mix into the blender, which should be about half of what you have made so far. When blended the added air will increase this volume somewhat and the vortex action will push it up the sides of the blender with such force that on the first time I did this, it came out of the top even though I was using the cover and holding it down with both hands. What a mess! Pour the first blended batch directly into the ultrasonic cleaner pan using the spatula to scrap the sides of the blender container.

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8. Complete the blending of the second batch of about 4 cups, but this time you may find as I do that there is quite a lot of foam and thus not enough room in the ultrasonic cleaner pan. Use the spatula to gently scrape off the foamy top layer and place that in a separate bowl. After removing the frothy foam, there should be just enough room to put the remaining fluidized lecithin into the ultrasonic cleaner pan.

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9. Put the stirrer into the ultrasonic cleaner pan, directly over the centered transducer (there is a raised beveled circle under which the transducer lies), and turn it on. Set the timer for 480 seconds and start the ultrasonic cleaner. Repeat this for a total of 5 times or 40 minutes. With each cycle the ultrasonic sound is making smaller and smaller liposomes. Most are made in the first few 5 minute cycles, but it is little effort to get incrementally more efficient conversion of the lecithin emulsion into liposomes by increasing the total time. I have seen research comments that indicate that more time in the ultrasonic cleaner is better.

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10. On the fourth cycle you can use the spatula to separate out the lecithin fluid which has settled from the foam that you scraped off and thus increase your output a little more. The last cycle of 480 seconds will liposomalize this little bit of recovered emulsified lecithin and ascorbic acid.

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11. Turn everything off. Pull the stirrer out of the lecithin and use the ultrasonic cleaner lid to cover the product and let it sit for 2-3 hrs. This allows all but the smallest bubbles to separate out from the lecithin-ascorpic acid liposomal mix. You should find that the solution, although thick, is still fluid and possible to pour through a funnel readily. Pour the ultrasonic cleaner pan into the large bowl and use a soup ladle to fill your bottles or jars. After a day in the refrigerator the air bubbles leaving and the cold will condense the amount of fluid noticeably. With time the very small bubbles will separate out. The color will change from a light tan to a darker brown (or whatever the starting color of you lecithin is), becoming darker as the air separates out. This is not an oxidation process.

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12. The final product has about 6 g of liposomal ascorbic acid per ounce (i.e. 2 table spoons). This is close to what the commercial products have, but in your case the cost to produce this will be considerably less!