In July, the US FDA issued a warning to consumers about a dietary supplement product being sold worldwide under the name Miracle Mineral Solution or Supplement (MMS). Marketed as a cure for everything from HIV/AIDS and cancer to malaria and tuberculosis, the product is 28 percent sodium chlorite. The consumer is instructed to mix the solution with a citrus juice, generating chlorine dioxide, and is encouraged to take 30 drops or more of the mixture. Worse, the consumer is told that if they begin vomiting, this is evidence that the product is “working.”
Martin Robbins, reporter for The Guardian, wrote last week about the story of “inventor” and promoter for the product, Jim Humble, in an article entitled, “The man who encourages the sick and dying to drink industrial bleach.” Therein, Martin also discusses the case of a teenage Crohn’s disease patient who was banned from a patient support forum for criticizing the remedy and trying to teach fellow patients about the truth behind the product.
Martin’s article has since gotten the attention of the Kenyan press as Humble claims to have tested the product in Malawi prisoners and up to 75,000 patients in Kenya and Uganda. Yesterday, a Sunday editorial from the Kenyan newspaper, The Nation, called for action from their Ministry of Health.
Chemists are no doubt familiar with the litany of highly-reactive substances that have been promoted over the years as cures – intravenous hydrogen peroxide comes to mind. I remind students and the public that, yes, anything will kill cancer cells in culture but that does not mean it should be used in people.
And while cancer chemotherapeutic drugs are among the most toxic substances used in the name of medicine, they have been subjected to extensive testing and are used in treatment regimens carefully designed based on tumor type and staging – an approach that predates today’s fascination with the concept of personalized medicine.
That a market exists for the sale of industrial bleach as a remedy reminds me that chemistry education and critical thinking skills remain a challenge in modern society.
More lengthy coverage and links as they develop can be found at my other blog.
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