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Buckyballs behind secret of Russia’s first health spa

[C60]Fullerene in Russian traditional medicine

Even though Buckminsterfullerene (“Buckyballs”, chemical formula C60) was only discovered in 1985 and is presented in the media as a high-tech nanomaterial with promising applications in medicine, this intriguing substance occurs naturally in rare but massive geological deposits such as Karelian Shungite, a black, glass-like mineral with a 98% carbon content. Other natural deposits of C60 occur in Fulgurite from Colorado and Sudbury Black Tuff from Canada.

Shungite rock in handShungite occurs mainly in Russia and Kazakhstan, but also in Austria, India and the Congo. For at least the last three hundred years, Russians have attributed healing properties to the stones, specifically when people bathe in, or drink the water that percolates through Shungite gravel. In the early eighteenth century, Peter the Great built a palace near such a spring that was widely know for having healing properties.  That Shungite spring spa became Russia’s first health resort.

Russian soldiers often carried a Shungite stone in those times, to purify water with. Modern research later confirmed the antibacterial activity of the mineral.

Russians are a superstitious lot and they certainly weren’t any less superstitious 300 years ago. After spending hours trying to find credible evidence for the alleged health benefits of Shungite, all we could find was hyped sales talk for the stones, so we found no independent verification in the form of published research for the Russian belief in the health-bringing effects of this mineral. The various sites claim relief for just about any possible ailment. We think that given the human tendency for exaggeration, only a fraction of the alleged health benefits are real and we have no way of knowing which part. Some selling Shungite claim that “soon it may become more expensive than gold” and that is not true, since with 250 Gigatonnes in the Karelian deposit alone, there is at least thirty thousand kg for every person on the planet. It shows that C60 as a natural mineral is available in great abundance though, and that it has been used for hundreds of years in Russian alternative medicine, with many believing in its healing powers, enough for the cotage industry of selling “magical healing Shungite stones” having spread to eBay and the like.

We think that when lots of people claim health benefits for many years, that it is likely that perhaps some of it is at least partially true. At the same time, we are unable to believe any specific claim regarding the health benefits of C60, because there simply isn’t any strong evidence available. Since there is so much recent scientific evidence for the beneficial effects of C60 on biological systems, this gives some credence to Russian health claims for Shungite.

It is important to stress again that Buckminsterfullerene C60 occurs naturally and that its only known mineral for 300 years, Shungite, has been associated with healing powers all that time. Shungite has been famous for centuries as a restorer of health, even before the Russian emperor decided to establish healing springs in an area where water emerged from Shungite deposits. Wikipedia says this: “Shungite has been used in medical treatment since the early 18th-century. Peter the Great set up Russia’s first spa in Karelia to make use of the water purifying properties of shungite, which he had himself experienced. He also instigated its use in providing purified water for the Russian army. The anti-bacterial properties of shungite has been confirmed by modern testing”.  We certainly did not write the Wikipedia entry for Shungite, since it contains errors because it says that it is “not fully confirmed” that Shungite in fact contains C60. To prove that this is incorrect, we bought a PDF with a scientific study that shows that Shungite contains around 1.5 to 2% of C60 (and some C70). That is a respectable percentage, high enough to make the authors speculate that this mineral could one day be the most economical way of producing fullerenes.

That paper is rather theoretical in nature so below is a photo of the crystal matrix of C60 in Shungite:

C60 crystal layer in Shungite

A photo of C60 in a crystal layer. The original can be found here, where it can be verified that the photo is indeed of Buckminsterfullerene in naturally occuring Shungite.

This beautiful place is where Shungite is available at the surface:

Karelian Shungite deposit ore mine

Shungite stones are sold on eBay for around two dollars per gram. Around 1.5% of that is C60, the rest is a mixture of many impurities so Shungite is by far the most expensive form of C60, and highly overpriced for a mineral in such great abundance. If you want to take a C60 supplement you should not suck on Shungite pebbles but take a bio-available form instead. C60 is nearly insoluble in water (saliva).

Health benefits of C60 in humans

The rat study showed that C60 nearly doubles rat’s lives, perhaps by simply preventing them from getting cancer or infectious diseases, but a mice study mentioned elsewhere on this site shows that something more is going on: Old mouse brains get rejuvenated when the mice take C60. They suddenly perform as well as the brains of three months old mice, when remembering the layout of a maze and learning to navigate it. So there may be some subtle noticeable effects on the human organism, we can not (yet) dismiss reports of certain beneficial effects as placebo – we have to keep an open mind.

Longecity.org is a forum for people interrested in life extension and dozens of people have been pioneers in taking C60 in extra virgin olive oil.  Longecity forum members have reported the following beneficial effects (only effects reported by more than one person are listed):

  • More energy
  • Less sleep needed
  • “Mental inprovements”
  • Can lift much heavier weights, sometimes to the point of causing tendon injury. Commonly reported.
  • Can do more reps of the same weight. This was the most commonly reported benefit. People were adamant that there was a great difference, comparable to taking Creatine and that not even anabolic steroids enabled such an immediate increase of both repetitions and max. weight.
  • Calmer, reduction in stress
  • Can run longer with seemingly more effective utilization of Oxygen. Less fatigue. “Cardiac improvements”. Better stamina and endurance.
  • Can run faster whilst feeling more comfortable with a pulse that would normally be too high for steady-state.
  • Higher libido. This is also seen in rat trials, already with 4 micrograms/kg, a dose five times lower than what we recommend as a daily dose.
  • Faster recovery of the skin after sunburn (with topical application). Do not expose C60 products to UV light – it splits off reactive Oxygen species under UV.

Professor Fathi Moussa, principal author of the C60 rat study, says that C60 prevents oxidative stress (that is quite an understatement – as their research shows, C60 fully protects against highly hepatotoxic chemicals that would otherwise kill in hours), for Prof. Moussa’s statement on that see this.

c60antioxidant

Vidcap taken October 26, 2012. Source: C60.net. No restrictions applied at that time (post #13).
Dr. Moussa has no commerical interest in C60 and holds no C60 patents or C60-related shares.

C60 could become interesting for athletes and in medicine, protecting against the effects of aging such as cancer and immune system deficiencies

It will take a long time to find out what this product does for humans. We think it may prolong life in humans as well as in rats because the C60 in oil becomes a lipofullerene and is available in the mitochondrial lipid bilayers where it acts as a recyclable super-antioxidant (C60 is a 270 times better antioxidant than vitamin C but vit. C is not lipid-soluble and neither is it recyclable, so C60 may in fact be tens of thousands of times more effective as an antioxidant than vitamin C). In fact it is in a different league alltogether as all the other, “conventional” antioxidants ever researched.

People are already buying C60 and dissolving it at home in olive oil and taking it and they’re already claiming beneficial effects. (Broken link due to censorship explained in the moved thread here). Here is another thread on home experiments with C60, note how it is explicitly forbidden to mention any positive effects and note that many postings mentioning such effects by long time posters have been deleted! Reporting the results of your own longevity experiment with small rodents is explicitly prohibited too, which shows a clear censorship agenda on Longecity.

REFERENCES

Baggott, Jim. Perfect Symmetry: The Accidental Discovery of Buckminsterfullerene (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). [Baggott observes that “the tendency for the closed-cage carbon molecules to burn, degrade, or become entrapped prevents the detection of naturally occurring fullerenes. Imagine the surprise, then, when it was announced in July 1992 that C60 and C70 had been found in samples of shungite, a coal-like rock from Shunga, a Russian town some 200 miles northeast of St. Petersburg. (pp. 254-55).]

Becker, L., Bada, J. L., Winans, R. E., Hunt, J., Bunch, T. E., and B. M. French. “Fullerenes in the 1.85-billion-year-old Sudbury Impact Structure.” Science, 265 (1994): 642-644.

Buseck, P.R., Tsipursky, S.J. and R. Hettich. “Fullerenes from the Geological Environment.” Science, 257 (1992): 215-217.


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