Liposomes were first described in 1961 and have since found use in everything from drugs to expensive skin creams. Their properties and associated manufacturing techniques have been extensively studied.
Unfortunately, much of this research is not easy to read for the non-scientist.
Additionally, current research is focussed on binding various other chemicals to liposomes which themselves are created out of hybrid compounds to provide specific pharmaceutical properties.
Thankfully, we’re interested only in creating simple liposomes from readily available non-toxic materials.
The following are the key findings from my research into creating the best possible liposomal vitamin C.
Liposomes are Easy to Make
It turns out that lecithin phospholipids really like to make liposomes!
Despite the marketing material created by such companies as LivOn Labs liposomes are actually very easy to make. You don’t need a high pressure injection system, or even an ultrasound machine!
LivOn Labs purchased the US patent number 20120171280A1 that is snappily named ‘Method of making liposomes, liposome compositions made by the methods, and methods of using the same’. It describes a method of making better liposomes than LivOn Labs without the need for any specialized equipment!
The inventor, Yuanpeng Zhang, has a long history of working with liposomes and has a number of related patents to his name.
The summary of his invention is that high quality liposomes may be created using only a blender, water, alcohol and vitamin C - and that these liposomes are better than the ones produced by LivOn Labs!
It’s no wonder that LivOn Labs purchased this patent!
This is fantastic news for all those people that need liposomal vitamin C but don’t have the resources to purchase expensive equipment or liposomal vitamin C directly from LivOn Labs.
A legal disclaimer: my understanding is that if you’re in the United States (where this patent has been applied for) then you shouldn’t attempt to use the method described in this patent without approval from Livon Labs after the patent has been granted.
It is typically impossible for the home manufacturer to validate that they have created liposomes. However, I’m fortunate that I have access to a biological research lab and have used their microscopes to confirm liposome creation. The following is a picture of the liposomes that have been created using the Process described on this website. The picture is a little odd looking because the attached camera was broken and I had to use a standard ‘point-and-shoot’ camera.
Liposomes we’ve created under a microscope
Alcohol is Important
The majority of the liposomal vitamin C community is not aware that alcohol is very helpful in the creation of liposomes.
It is well established that organic solvents help phospholipids form liposomes. While there are many dangerous organic solvents, the one we’re interested in is ethyl alcohol. This is the same type of alcohol that is in your beer, wine and vodka. Its safety has been established over many years and includes long term testing by the author of this website!
LivOn Labs is the current market leader in liposomal vitamin C. Their recipe includes 12% alcohol by weight as a ‘natural preservative’, however, it turns out that this alcohol is also key to creating liposomes.
See the patent reference in the previous section for more detail.
Every recipe I’ve read on the Internet calls for dissolving a relatively small amount of vitamin C in water.
For example, the original ‘Brooks Bradley’ recipe calls for dissolving 1 level tablespoon (about 6 grams) of vitamin C in a total of 1.5 cups of water. However, vitamin C solubility is 330 g/L which means that 124 grams of vitamin C will dissolve into that same 1.5 cups of water.
By way of illustration, here is what the difference looks like. On the left is one level tablespoon of vitamin C (6 grams) and on the right is the total amount of vitamin C that will dissolve into that same 1.5 cups of water. There is twenty times more vitamin C on the right!
One tablespoon of vitamin C versus saturation levels of vitamin C
Since liposomes will encapsulate anything that is dissolved in water, you can make your liposomal vitamin C twenty times stronger without any other adjustments to your recipe. Wow!
Lecithin Granule Amounts
Most Internet recipes call for a relatively small amount of lecithin.
It is important that you use lecithin granules as they have very little soy protein and are higher in the components that actually make liposomes such as phosphatidylcholine.
Where I live it is difficult to source high phosphatidylcholine (PC) lecithin. My current source is 20kg boxes of Solec P from the Solae Company (a subsidiary of Du Pont). It has a 22% phosphatidylcholine content and seems to work well in my recipe.
Generally you’ll want to use as many lecithin granules as possible as this provides the highest possible encapsulation of the vitamin C.
The limiting factor is that the resulting mixture needs to be liquid enough at around 32°C that the ultrasound machine is able to drive out the bubbles that are created by the blending process. Bubbles in the liquid absorb ultrasonic energy and significantly reduce the amount of ultrasonic energy that goes into making liposomes.
Dissolving Lecithin Granules
The lecithin granules take time in order to dissolve completely. Most Internet recipes call for soaking the lecithin granules in water overnight.
This idea is correct, however, by soaking in water you end up lowering the amount of vitamin C that will be encapsulated.
I recommend making the saturated solution of vitamin C, water and alcohol (as described in the Process section) and then dissolve the lecithin granules in this. Doing so will maximize the amount of vitamin C that will be encapsulated.
I do the dissolving in a blender so that I can blend it five or six times over the course of 12 hours. Even if you don’t have an ultrasound machine this will significantly encapsulate the vitamin C as described in patent US 20120171280A1 that was purchased by Livon Labs.
In my experimentation the optimal temperature for creating liposomes is less than 32°C. When you get above 35°C the liposomes start breaking down and lower your encapsulation percentage.
In my recipe I ultrasound above 32°C for the first round in order to drive out bubbles in the liquid. Removing these bubbled improves the ultrasonic energy that is used to create liposomes. After this first round I ultrasound below 32°C to optimize liposome creation.
According to my research a total irradiation time of around an hour is optimal, however, at least ten minutes after you’ve driven out the bubbles should be sufficient depending on the power of your ultrasound machine.