Buckminsterfullerene: The Magic Carbon Molecule That Precedes Life On Earth!
Carbon-60, also known as C60, buckminsterfullerene, fullerene-60 or buckyball, is likely to
be the most amazing chemistry discovery of the late 20th century (1).
This carbon molecule is theorised to have a practical use in everything, including rocket
fuel, electronics and in creating super strong materials! Yet, arguably the most profound
applications have been in the field of health.
Carbon-60 is a very complicated subject and there is a lot of public confusion about it. In
an attempt to clarify what is currently known about this magic molecule, we have compiled
this article which highlights its health benefits, side effects, sources and all you need to
know about using it to optimise your well-being and performance!
What Is Carbon 60?
Carbon-60 is a member of the carbon family, alongside diamond and graphite, that was
only discovered recently in 1985.
Its official name, Buckminsterfullerene, was an ode to Buckminster Fuller, a mathematician
who designed geodesic dome structures similar to this compound.
Essentially a carbon-60 molecule is comprised of 60 carbon atoms which are arranged in a
unique shape that can be thought of as a ‘carbon cage’. This shape resembles that of a
soccer ball, comprising of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons. At the vertex of each shape is
one carbon atom, with a double bond forming the edges. Another name for this unique
structure is a truncated icosahedron.
This shape is what gives C60 all of it’s amazing properties, including being resistant to
radiation, chemical corrosion and breakage under high pressure. Metals and other
substances can be placed inside the vacuum interiors of buckyballs, turning them into
novel nano-transport vehicles or superconductors. They are small enough to move through
cell membranes and sit between woven strands of DNA (2).
Carbon-60 also readily reacts with other substances and is able to easily combine with just
about any compound to enhance its action.
Furthermore, C60 was found in deep space and stardust, as well as ancient mineral
deposits and meteorites found on Earth, suggesting that it predates life on the planet.
All these aspects of fullerene 60 have made it the centre of much research worldwide;
however even after more than 30 years, scientists are only just beginning to scratch the tip
of this iceberg!
12 Health Benefits of Carbon 60
1. Increases Longevity
The Paris or Baati study is likely the most famous experiment performed using carbon-60.
The findings reveal that this molecule is not only non-toxic but increases the lifespan of
rats by 90%! (3)
Part of this is possibly due to the fact that Carbon-60 has a high affinity for both cellular
and mitochondrial membranes. (4) It helps protect both of these structures, which are
integral to the lifespan of our cells and ultimately us.
There are several studies proving that water-soluble C60 prevents mitochondrial
dysfunction (5), which promotes longevity, as well as optimal health and increased energy
levels. One in particular showed that rats exposed to fatal levels of radiation managed to
survive for 30 days after the event, thanks to good old buckyballs!
2. Scavenges Free Radicals
Ever since the first experiments were conducted on buckyballs, it was concluded that this
molecule acts as a free radical sponge, mopping up any that it encounters. It has been
reported that this molecule has an antioxidant capacity several hundred times higher than
other antioxidants! (6)
What makes fullerene 60 even more amazing is its strong cage-like structure. The free
radicals it takes out the body don’t affect its shape or function, allowing for it to
continuously deal with free radicals until it leaves the system (which has been shown in the
Baati study to be 97 hours from the bloodstream of rats).
Unlike other antioxidants, which can bind to free radicals molecule-for-molecule, carbon-60
can accumulate dozens of them before it can no longer do so. For example, it has been
reported that C60 can hold up to 34 methyl radicals at one time!
This combined with it’s ability to by-pass cellular membranes, including the blood-brainbarrier (7) , as well as its affinity for DNA, mitochondria and cellular membranes, place
C60 within a league of its own. Moreover, once the free radicals have bound to it, they are
100% neutralised and do not interact with C60 or anything else along the way.
Another research paper showed that a specific malonic acid form of C60 mimicked the
action of SOD, removing superoxide, which is a harmful by-product produced by cells. This
shows that scavenging free radicals is not Carbon-60’s only means of acting as an
antioxidant, but that it is capable of neutralising pollutants via chemical reduction reactions
3. Reduces Inflammation & Symptoms of Arthritis
Seeing as Carbon-60 is such a potent free radical scavenger, it makes sense that it helps
reduce inflammation, especially as seen in arthritis. In both human cell cultures and rats
which had arthritis, water-soluble C60 suppressed inflammation in the joints and bones (9).
From a mitochondrial perspective, buckminsterfullerene helps to bring the mitochondria
back into balance, which corrects the immune system and results in less bodily
inflammation as a whole.
4. Improves Immune Function
Aside from protecting mitochondria and cells from free radical damage, water-soluble C60
has been shown to stimulate the immune system in other 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 a key role in
fighting off infections and even tumour cells (10).
Thanks to the potent antioxidant ability of this miracle molecule, it may beneficially
intervene with allergies and severe allergic reactions (11) (like anaphylaxis). Studies reveal
that levels of histamine, IgE and other inflammatory compounds associated with allergy
were greatly reduced when carbon-60 was added to the equation.
This makes fullerene 60 seem like a perfect support for those with asthma, respiratory
problems, heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease (12).
5. Prevents Apoptosis in Neurons & May Reverse Alzheimer’s Disease
Apoptosis is a fancy term for the death of cells, which is what buckyballs have been shown
to protect against in nerve cells (13).
It is a fact that neurons die and get created everyday 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.
In one study, human neurons were cultured in vitro and then exposed to neuron-deadly
excitotoxins. These cells were protected from apoptosis by buckminsterfullerene 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.
There is more evidence to support this, revealing that C60 actively promotes the growth of
new neurons. Several fullerene 60 derivatives were tested in vitro and proven to support
neuronal growth (14). Not only could it help lessen neurodegeneration, but it will likely also
make you smarter!
Furthermore, in the case of Alzheimer’s Disease, it was shown that a specific C60
derivative destroys amyloid-beta plaques (15); one of the primary root causes behind the
condition, suggesting that C60 has promising potential as an anti-dementia supplement.
6. Protects Cartilage & Improves Bone Health
In one of the studies quoted above, buckyballs prevented bone damage and bone
resorption when injected into the ankles of arthritic rats.
Further data indicates that carbon-60 does not just help to improve bone mineral density,
but that it also protects cartilage. In rabbits that had been induced with osteoarthritis in
their knees, water-soluble C60 prevented cartilage cells from aging prematurely or dying
off, as well as increasing cartilage production and reducing enzymes that would destroy it
Fullerene 60 also proved to be superior to hyaluronic acid, which is the stuff that surrounds
the cartilage in joints and is used as a common osteoarthritis treatment. Thus, Carbon-60
in it’s water-soluble form could potentially be one of the best options for those suffering
with either osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.
7. Helps Eradicate Bacteria & Viruses, Including HIV
That’s right – it was even shown that carbon-60 has the potential ability to inhibit HIV and
possibly derail the onset of AIDS! (17)
Research also highlights that this wonder molecule has the capacity to smother the spread
of human cytomegalovirus, hepatitis C, Semliki Forest Virus and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus
Specific types of fullerene 60 known as fullerenols were shown to inhibit the growth of
Propionibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Candida albicans, and Malassezia
furfur, which are all commonly found to infect the skin (19).
Dangerous water suspensions of C60 – not the same as water-soluble C60 – have been
documented to act as strong anti-bacterials (20), but these compounds release free
radicals and ought to be avoided. Other alkylated derivatives with short chains were also
shown to destroy both bacteria and cancer cell lines (21), but these are equally as toxic
(see more below on side effects and types of synthetic Carbon-60).
8. Prevents You From Getting Fatter
Don’t get too excited – there is no research as of yet that even hints towards buckyballs as
a weight loss supplement. However, there have been several exciting studies revealing
that these prehistoric compounds will prevent you from gaining more weight than you
currently have right now.
With both human and mouse cell cultures, it was shown that both fat-soluble (22) and
water-soluble (23) versions of carbon-60 prevented the cells from turning into fat cells.
9. Inhibits Tumour Growth
This is a truly remarkable discovery. It was revealed that water-soluble fullerene-60 may
prevent certain bone marrow stem cells and breast cancer cells from communicating. This
communication tends to result in the cancer spreading rapidly (known as metastasis) (24).
It was shown to do this by correcting MAPK-ERK singling in the stem cells. The MAPK
pathway is a way for the surface of the cell and the DNA in the nucleus to engage,
effectively acting as an on-off switch for DNA activity, such as cell division or protein
production. In the formation of cancer, this switch can become faulty, getting stuck in one
Carbon-60 not only corrects the MAPK pathway, which may halt some types of tumours
from forming; but it was also shown to correct another anti-tumour pathway known as the
This is involved directly with the DNA of a cell, controlling processes such as transcription,
inflammation and its lifespan. Correcting this pathway suggests that carbon-60 may cause
cancer cells to self-destruct, but further research would need to be carried out to confirm
10. UV Radiation Protection
In lab experiments on cultured skin cells, it was proven that C60 infused ointment
protected the skin from the negative effects of UVA radiation (25). These harmful effects
included DNA damage, the breakdown of collagen and cell death.
The cream on it’s own barely did anything against the radiation, but with the addition of
C60, the radiation-related side effects were significantly repressed! In the same study, it
was noted that the buckyballs never went deeper than the outer layer of the skin,
remaining where they needed to be to protect the outermost layers.
In separate research using the same carbon-60-doped cream, it was shown that this
magic molecule also stopped free radicals from generating in the skin (26) as a result of
either UVA or UVB radiation (27).
The C60 could pass cellular membranes right near the DNA without causing any damage
to the skin, while simultaneously protecting it! When a comparison was carried out,
Buckyballs remain to be superior to other creams claiming to do the same thing.
11. May Reverse Skin Disorders
Fullerene-60 has been extensively tested for use in skincare applications, especially when
the news spread about it’s impressive anti-radiation benefits.
In rat models of dermatitis, it was shown that C60 reduced inflammation and promoted
better skin barrier function, especially when administered topically (as opposed to being
injected into the skin) (28).
Impaired barrier function, as well as increased inflammation, are two of the main problems
seen in dermatitis. When the barrier does not function properly, it allows pollutants and
other toxins from the environment to infiltrate the skin, which causes a continuous cycle of
inflammation. Carbon-60 appears to help put an end to this cycle.
For use in treating severe acne, it was shown that carbon-60 applied topically to skin
decreased the number of skin lesions, pimples and oils found on the skin (29). It also
helped significantly increase the moisture content of the skin after 8 weeks, suggesting it
could be used beneficially in anti-dermatitis moisturisers.
Interestingly, it was proven that lower concentrations of C60 permeated more deeply into
the skin, while larger concentrations tended to hang out on the surface (30).
Larger concentrations were also more effective at promoting better skin barrier function,
but just on the surface of the skin. This suggests that lower concentrations are better for
reducing inflammation in deeper levels of the skin, as seen with basal carcinomas.
In the case of certain types of skin disorders which result in hair loss or alopecia,
carbon-60 may once again come to the rescue! It was proven that carbon-60 promoted
rapid hair growth in bald mice (31).
12. Helps Prevent Male Infertility
Diabetes is a common cause for erectile dysfunction and male infertility. In diabetic male
rats, fullerene C60 helped improve their fertility and genital function (32).
Increased levels of the antioxidant glutathione, testosterone, vitamin E, sperm and sperm
motility were noted in these C60 treated rats (more than in the other diabetic rats or even
the healthy rats!).
Furthermore, they had recovered completely from diabetes-induced testicular
complications, such as swelling, free radical damage and cell death in the testis.