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There are many unproven and sometimes fraudulent claims regarding therapies in autism. Usually the words quackery, pseudoscience and health fraud are used synonymously to describe these interventions. Paul Offit has proposed 4 ways by which some alternative interventions can be considered quackery (see my previous blog on Paul Offit and alternative therapies at http://bit.ly/1mSgYIo):
1. “…by recommending against conventional therapies that are helpful.”
2. “…by promoting potentially harmful therapies without adequate warning.”
3. “…by draining patient’s bank accounts.”
4. “…by promoting magical thinking.”
Although there are many quack therapies in autism I am nevertheless surprised that some particularly outlandish interventions have been accepted and have become fashionable. This is particularly poignant for those interventions that pose a significant health threat and are promoted by people that are completely devoid of any education in the health sciences.
In terms of autism, and according to my own personal view, the most dangerous intervention promoted to date is that of the Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). Despite multiple blogs disparaging the intervention, FDA warnings not to use the same, and its being banned by other governments, MMS is still being sold through the internet. In effect, MMS has active web sties promoting the product (miraclemineral.org/) and it is openly advertised in at least one autism congress.
The Miracle Mineral Solution is the brainchild of Archbishop Jim Humble of the Genesis 2 Church of Health and Healing. Mr Humble claims to have written a multitude of books that have grossed millions of dollars in profit to the publishers. In another book on Atomic Alchemy he gives a formula for “reducing radiation to zero and producing gold to pay for the process” (miraclemineral.org/). He has also written a book about “The Miracle Mineral Solution of the 21st Century” with good sales according to Amazon.com. According to Mr.Humble MMS is “[the breakthrough] that can save your life”. Indeed it is promoted as a cure for HIV, hepatitis (A, B, and C), malaria, common colds, acne, and most cancers, among many other conditions. It is a pity that a national organization has sponsored the use of this toxic compound as a potential therapy for autism. One speaker even had the illusory claim that 38 children recovered in 20 months when using MMS (http://bit.ly/1vGfENW).
Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) is a 28% solution of sodium chlorite (NaClO2). The directions indicate mixing this solution with an acid (e.g., citrus juice) in order to produce chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach used as an industrial disinfectant, and also for stripping textiles and in water processing facilities. Most household bleach use a 3-6% solution. The 28% solution of MMS is 200 times more concentrated than the highest tolerable daily intake of sodium chlorite in water established by Health Canada (http://bit.ly/1q37pKp). Oral use of MMS is associated with swelling of the throat, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool and symptoms of severe dehydration. More serious side effects include hemolysis (rupture of your red blood cells) and renal failure. Although generally recommended for oral administration the web page for Genesis II Church of Health and Healing indicates that, “The MMS enema might be as effective as intravenous infusions since both methods dump MMS into the plasma of the blood as well as the red blood cells” (http://genesis2church.org/mms-protocol-enema-methods). The aggressive avenues pursued with this toxic chemical is highly disturbing.
Chlorine dioxide is a powerful oxidizing agent. A cursory search in Pubmed failed to discover any miracle cures associated with this compound; however, it did provide some serious cause for concern. As an example there is a report on
autoimmune hemolytic anemia refractory to medical treatment after chlorine dioxide intake. Indeed, the FDA has released a warning on MMS to the effect that, “The product, when used as directed, produces an industrial bleach that can cause serious harm to health…Consumers who have MMS should stop using it immediately and throw it away” (http://1.usa.gov/1vG6a5f). The product has been banned in Canada after reports of a life threatening reaction. The Canadian government has urged users to stop taking Miracle Mineral Solution immediately.
I think the name is derived from the fact that it is a miracle that no deaths (but rather life threatening events) have been reported when using the compound. It is sold in bottles containing only 4 fl. oz. The wholesale dealer will sell you a case of 48 bottles at $8.25 per bottle The price for making the solution itself may be closer to $.25.
Thus far poisoning may be rare as the instructions indicate not to drink more than 15 drops per day. A website claims that you can follow its effectiveness by how nauseous you feel after ingesting it! It is a miracle that people pay money for this and expose themselves to associated health risks.