Tutorial: How to Make Four Ounces of Liposomal Peppermint Oil (LEPO)
This tutorial is designed to teach the “home brewer” how to make high quality liposomal essential oil formulations. It does not cover how to use them. This tutorial utilizes the ultrasonic encapsulation method, as apposed to using the blending method. The essential oil used is peppermint. Liposomal peppermint oil is one of the easiest formulations to make. It is very stable, and has a greater shelf life than many other liposomal essential oils (EOs). Furthermore, it is currently being studied for its strong antimicrobial properties.
The same general procedure can be used to create other liposomal essential oils, or even essential oil blends.
PLEASE NOTE: That there is a new tutorial on making an antifungal spray using LEOs at EarthCures.org, that demonstrates how LEOs can be used externally.
What is a Liposome? …and Why Encapsulate Essential Oils?
What is a liposomal formulation? In our case, it is a colloid made up of spherical phosphatidylcholine particles that exist in a water medium. Inside the lipid (fat) particles, the “substance of choice” is encapsulated — surrounded– by the spherical particles. In essence, the encapsulated substance (in this case, peppermint EO) exists inside of the lecithin, which is suspended in colloidal form within the water.
The official definition: “An artificial vesicle composed of one or more concentric phospholipid bilayers and used especially to deliver microscopic substances.”
Liposomes are nature’s perfect bio-delivery system. What is the best natural liposomal formulation? Easy: Breast milk!
Essential oils are not water soluble, and they are not very bio-available. Furthermore, they cannot be diluted down for easy and safe in water. However, once in liposomal form, they become completely bio-available. Furthermore, you can dilute one drop of liposomal essential oil (LEO) in as much water as needed. The LEO will completely disperse in the water. You can even add one drop of LEO to a gallon of water, and it will disperse evenly throughout the whole gallon.
Links to products are provided (Amazon) as necessary. If no link is provided, then simply choose your own personal preference.
- An ultrasonic bath/cleaning unit: iSonic P4830 Commercial Ultrasonic Cleaner
- 1/4 ounce of organic peppermint essential oil or CO2 extracted peppermint oil
- Phosphatidylcholine: In this case, non-GMO Soy Lecithin: Lecithin Granules
- One 5 ounce measuring glass container: 5 Oz Glass Measuring Glass
- 4 ounces of colloidal silver (or distilled water)
- A small amount of grain alcohol (40-50 Proof)
- A sensitive digital kitchen scale (.001 grams): MilliGram Scale, 20 by 0.001 G
- Two small measuring cups (1 ounce)
- A way to measure water temperature (a laser temperature meter): Digital Infrared Thermometer Dual Laser
- One four ounce glass dropper bottle
- A stirring rod
Making liposomal essential oils is actually very easy. EOs lend themselves to encapsulation very well. In fact, it only takes about 1% phospho-lipids to get the job done. Furthermore, the process is very forgiving. In the event of error, one simply needs to add a bit more lecithin or essential oil.
There are two simple secrets to making the perfect “liposphere”:
1. Use 1-10% grain alcohol (40 or 50 proof) by weight. The grain alcohol immediately separates the lecithin particles, and helps to prevent clumping.
2. Heat the formulation while encapsulating. Heating the lecithin changes the permeability of the lecithin, allowing easier penetration of the essential oils. Lecithin is actually very heat resistant at the temperatures we will be using.
While, as stated above, it only takes about 1% lecithin to essential oils used, different essential oils may require slightly different amounts of lecithin. Sometimes, one may need to add just a bit more lecithin in order to encapsulate all of the essential oil. It’s easy to tell when more lecithin needs to be added. After processing the brew in the ultrasonic cleaner, a “puddle” of essential oil will pool on top of the water. If this happens, simply add a bit more lecithin and reprocess.
If you don’t have access to a good scale, you can always “eyeball” the amount of lecithin to use. The images in this tutorial will give you an idea of how much is needed: Not very much!
- Measure out the essential oil. For a four ounce bottle, 1/4 ounce of peppermint oil will be needed.
- Weigh the essential oil in a small measuring cup. Use grams if possible. Make a note of the weight. The weight will be used to calculate the amount of lecithin required.
- Pour the essential oil into the 4 ounce glass container. This container will be used to process the liposomal peppermint oil in the ultrasonic bath unit.
- Calculate the amount of lecithin to use by multiplying the weight of the essential oil by .01 (one percent).
- Using a second measuring cup placed on the scale, measure out the required amount of lecithin. Then, pour the lecithin into the 4 ounce glass container that currently contains the peppermint oil.
- Add between 1 and 12 ml of the grain alcohol into the 4 ounce glass container. Watch how the lecithin immediately begins to separate the lecithin particles (a small amount of the lecithin will have already dispersed in the water).
- Add about one ounce of colloidal silver (or distilled water).
Process the Liposomal Formulation in the Ultrasonic Bath
Now, prepare the ultrasonic bath for operation exactly as described in the device’s manual. Place the 4 ounce glass container on the rack in the center of the ultrasonic bath. The bath that we recommend purchasing can be run for 30 minutes at a time. It also has a heater, which is important.
Turn the heater on, set the ultrasonic timer for 30 minutes and press start. During this process, stir the LEO every so often. It is also wise to check the temperature after 15 minutes, although the target temperature usually will not be reached until the second run of the ultrasonic bath.
Once the timer runs out, repeat the above process. Set the timer for 30 minutes, and be certain that the heater is on. Keep in mind that the heater is on a auto shut off timer. If you are uncertain how long the heater has been running, simply turn it off and on. This time, check the temperature of the formulation at the ten minute mark, and every five minutes afterward. Once the temperature reaches between 105 degrees F and 115 degrees F, turn the heater off. Allow the ultrasonic bath to finish its cycle.
Observe the surface of the “water” very carefully. You should see a layer of melted lecithin on top. This surface layer of lecithin will be rich with essential oils, and it is completely normal. However, if there is a layer of pure essential oil separated from the lecithin, more lecithin is needed. Simply add a bit more lecithin, and process the batch again for 30 minutes. Once again you can heat the formulation up to between 105-115 degrees F if necessary.
Note that all of the liposomal peppermint oil beneath the top lecithin layer is completely white! When liposomes are fully dispersed in water, they are always white. When there is lecithin that doesn’t disperse in water due to concentration levels, the color is yellowish-orange. When this lecithin is diluted in more water, then the color should change to white, indicating a proper formulation.
If no separated essential oil is floating on the surface, the ultrasonic bath is no longer needed. You are done processing.
Fill the glass container up to the 4 ounce mark with colloidal silver (or distilled water), and mix well.
Transfer the completed LEPO into the 4 ounce glass dropper bottle. Only make what you plan on using, and always refrigerate LEOs when not in use. Different liposomal essential oils will have different shelf lives. That said, liposomal peppermint oil and liposomal Ceylon cinnamon oil are both very stable and resist degradation more so than many other types of LEO.
More information, including a commentary and more FAQs, will be added in the future!
Isn’t there a way to make the formulation so that there is no top layer of lecithin once complete?
Yes, absolutely. However, doing so will result in dosing difficulties. With this method, 16 drops of the essential oil is the equivalent of one drop of pure essential oil. Making a more concentrated formulation works perfectly, and is much more convenient to store and use. Furthermore, if you don’t need precise dosing information, you can take that top layer of lecithin, and add it to coconut oil to make a fantastic lipid-rich essential oil cream for topical use.
Can the blender method be used in place of the ultrasonic method?
Yes. However, keep in mind that any time you use a blender, you are greatly increasing oxidation, and you do not have any control over the heating. Furthermore, you would most likely have to use a dedicated blender for this process. It is difficult to get the smell of essential oils out of plastic.
The ultrasonic method creates a superior product to blending, despite rather loud voices claiming otherwise.
I see quite a few very affordable ultrasonic cleaners available for purchase online. Why can’t I purchase one of the cheap ones?
If you can find an affordable ultrasonic cleaner with the right specifications, feel free to get one! Please keep in mind that most of the “cheap” models have a maximum run time of about five minutes. Furthermore, many of the affordable models do not have heating elements. If you plan on actually making liposomal formulations, you really need a machine that can run uninterrupted for 30 minutes. A unit that has a heating element is also important.
Can I use a different type of cinnamon? I have access to very affordable oils.
Please ONLY use Ceylon cinnamon bark oil. By using other types of cinnamon oil, you risk causing serious liver damage.
Can I use Ceylon cinnamon leaf oil?
For this tutorial, please use Ceylon cinnamon bark oil. Once you are familiar with the process, you can diplicate it using any essential oil that you’d like, at your own discretion.
Why does this process only take an hour of ultrasonic processing? When making liposomal vitamin C, the recommendation is to process for much longer, refrigerating the formulation between ultrasonic sessions.
Essential oils, when combined with lecithin, almost encapsulate themselves without effort. Essential oils lend themselves to encapsulation very easily, since they are non-water soluble solvents. There is no need to over-process them, although it will not hurt if they spend more time in the ultrasonic bath.
Some companies make a gel, not a liquid. Should I be making a gel instead?
NO. Studies published are conflicted about the true efficacy of liposomal formulations. The main reason: In order for a formulation to be highly effective, the lipids MUST separate into their “spherical” liposomes. Furthermore, when used internally, liposomal formulations should be taken with a lot of water. At least eight ounces. This will dilute stomach acid and allow the liposomes to be absorbed into the body intact.
In the tutorial, you use lecithin derived from soy. Can another form be used? How about lecithin derived from organic sunflower seeds?
Please keep in mind that lecithin derived from soy is completely devoid of the protein that causes issues in the human body. That said, it is difficult to find organic soy lecithin compared to organic sunflower lecithin. However, it may be surprising to realize that tolerance to the soy lecithin is better. If you use sunflower lecithin, and have tolerance issues, it’s probably due to the lecithin.
Furthermore, the highest quality product to use a special, balanced form of lipids, where the ratio between omega 3’s and omega 6’s is perfect. This product is also expensive. This product is the product that I personally usually use in place of lecithin to make liposomal formulations:
Will this process make nano liposomes? Should I add another emulsifying agent?
YES. This process will make liposomes on the small end of the nano liposome spectrum. However, it is not a guarantee that all of the liposomes will be uniformly sized, as there is no process in place to ensure that only nano lipids are formed. That said, this method, especially with the “gentle heat” and use of grain alcohol, is the superior process to use outside of a very expensive lab setting.
No, there is no need to add any other emulsifying agent. The following is a quote from Hielscher.com, a manufacturer of ultrasonic technology:
“…Ultrasound is a proven method of liposome preparation and the encapsulation of active agents into these vesicles…”
“…Regarding to their composition and size, one differs between multi-lamellar vesicles (MLV, 0.1-10μm) and unilamellar vesicles, which are distinguished between small (SUV, <100 nm), large (LUV, 100–500 nm) or giant (GUV, ≥1 μm) vesicles. The composite structure of liposomes consists of phospholipids. Phospholipids have a hydrophilic head group and a hydrophobic tail group, which consists of a long hydrocarbon chain. The liposome membrane has a very similar composition as the skin barrier, so that they can be easily integrated into the human skin. As the liposomes fusionate with the skin, they can unload the entrapped agents directly to the destination, where the actives can fulfill their functions. Thus, the liposomes create an enhancement of skin penetrability/ permeability for the entrapped pharmaceutical and cosmetical agents. Also liposomes without encapsulated agents, the vacant vesicles, are potent actives for the skin, as the phosphatidylcholin incorporates two essentials, which the human organism cannot produce by itself: linoleic acid and choline. Liposomes are used as biocompatible carriers of drugs, peptides, proteins, plasmic DNA, antisense oligonucleotides or ribozymes, for pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and biochemical purposes. The enormous versatility in particle size and in physical parameters of the lipids affords an attractive potential for constructing tailor-made vehicles for a wide range of applications. (Ulrich 2002)
“Ultrasonic Liposomes Formation Liposomes can be formed by the use of ultrasonics…”
“…To enhance the nurturing effect of moisturizing or anti-aging cremes, lotions, gels and other cosmeceutical formulations, emulsifier are added to the liposomal dispersions to stabilize higher amounts of lipids. But investigations had shown that the capability of liposomes is generally limited. With the addition of emulsifiers, this effect will appear earlier and the additional emulsifiers cause a weakening on the barrier affinity of phosphatidylcholine. Nanoparticles – composed of phosphatidylcholine and lipids – are the answer to this problem. These nanoparticles are formed by an oil droplet which is covered by a monolayer of phosphatidylcholine. The use of nanoparticles allows formulations which are capable to absorb more lipids and remain stable, so that additional emulsifiers are not needed. Ultrasonication is a proven method for the production of nanoemulsions and nanodispersions.”
What is the shelf life of liposomal essential oils? If the oils that I use are antimicrobial, shouldn’t they preserve the formulation?
Assume that the refrigerated shelf life is 60 days. The actual shelf life will depend on many factors, including how much lecithin is used, and the exact properties of the essential oil(s) used.
The issue with liposomes: Most of the EO will be encapsulated. It is impossible for the EO to be in contact with all of the lipids all of the time. Lipids are great food for both humans and microbes. There is plenty of open surface area where essential oils and colloidal silver cannot act as preservatives. This is why liposomal formulations must be refrigerated and “made to use” only.
There are exceptions to the rule. Liposomal peppermint oil and liposomal ceylon cinammon bark oil both resist bacterial and fungal growth very well.
That said: Safety first!
Is it really worth the equipment investment? Are liposomal formulations that good?
If you love essential oils, or if you want to be on the cutting edge of alternative medicine, then: Yes. You are not limited to making essential oil liposomal formulations. My favorite liposomal formulation for detox (advanced): Alpha lipoic acid, NAC, glutathione, and vitamin c.
Why liposomes, exactly?
1. Using lipids to encapsulate essential oil makes the essential oils water soluble. This makes managing concentrations MUCH easier.
2. Recent studies done with Bergamot demonstrate that essential oils used internally “as they are” are not bio-available enough to be truly effective (in this case, targeting cancer cells). Liposomes are nature’s finest bio-delivery system (breast milk is liposomal).
3. The lipids help protect the encapsulated EOs from the external environment.
4. The body recognizes phosphotydalcholine (and other lipids) as actual food. All human cells require it.
5. Liposomal formulations mix very well with other substances for topical use.
This tutorial doesn’t delve into the use of liposomal essential oil formulations. If you are interested in more specific liposomal formulations, please let me know by commenting below. I have quite a few amazing advanced liposomal formulations from Eytons’ Earth – Private Stock!
Abstract: In-vitro study of the effectiveness of liposomal bergamot essential oil on cancer.
Inhibiting and degrading biofilm using the most effective essential oils.
Abstract: Some biochemicals found in essential oils exhibit strong anti-viral capabilities
Abstract: Exploring the antifungal effects of liposomal essential oil (eucalyptus)
Liposomal tea tree oil and silver ions yield improved antimicrobial activity without the possibilty of the microbes developing a resistance.
…an example of a complex liposomal essential oil formulation: Antimicrobial blend. Please note that this formulation is no longer commercially available.
This is a fantastic journal article written for “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine”, Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 651593. The article is entitled “Essential Oils Loaded in Nanosystems: A Developing Strategy for a Successful Therapeutic Approach”. This article gives a great overview of essential oils in general, and specifically… section 4… deals with nano encapsulation. Note that the article states that LEOs are not only more bio-available, but also likely more bio-effective.
Furthermore, the authors state: “It is accepted that topical drug delivery with nanoparticles targets the nanoparticles into the deeper layers of skin and generally they do not reach the viable epidermis. Only where the cheratine barrier is compromised, however, such as in aged or diseased skin, an enhanced particle penetration occurs. The use of nanoparticles provides a sustained and slow release of the active constituents; nanoparticles represent a reservoir. “
The authors are also quick to point out “Particle size, shape, and surface properties of the nanoparticles play a crucial role in the uptake of nanosized delivery systems across the mucosal membrane. The nanocarriers with particle size of 50–300 nm, positive zeta potential, and hydrophobic surface were found to have preferential uptake as compared to their counterparts.”
The methods and materials we use produce a wide range of extremely small particles, which are ROUND IN SHAPE. The round particles prevent cytotoxicity otherwise commonly associated with nanoparticles below the 40 NM range. The PC used to create the liposomes (from the lecithin) are the absolute ideal delivery system.
Be sure to check this article out!