The lowest of the low: Trying to bleach autism away

It’s that time of year again.

What am I talking about? Regular readers know. They know that sometime around the Memorial Day weekend every year, usually beginning a couple of days before the extended weekend and into the weekend itself, there lands in the Chicago area a quackfest of such unrelenting quackitude that it has to be seen to be believed. Basically, it’s the antivaccine and autism “biomed” movement Woodstock, except that it happens every year. Any and every quack and die-hard antivaccinationist who still believes believes against all evidence that vaccines cause autism is usually there. Anyone who’s anyone in the antivaccine movement is almost certainly there now (at least that part of the antivaccine movement that aligns itself with Generation Rescue/Age of Autism, anyway).

This quackfest is known as Autism One.

This year, as the Memorial Day weekend approached, and the Autism One conference started up a couple of days ago, I wondered whether or not I should bother with it. I have, after all, been covering it every year for several years. It’s become predictable. Every year, I know that there will be quackery. There will likely be one or more skeptics trying to attend and, if they are recognized, getting kicked out to minimize the chances that a science-based or skeptical viewpoint about what goes on at Autism One will be published or posted anywhere. I didn’t know if anyone had planned on showing up at Autism One this year (although I do hope that someone did). Then I saw this comment after yesterday’s post. Yesterday’s post, you might recall, was ostensibly about a man who calls himself the Phaelosopher but quickly turned into a post about a form of quackery that I hadn’t delved into before and that I was quite surprised that I didn’t really know about. I had heard of it, but I had never actually looked into it. The Phaelosopher’s little broadside at me gave me the opportunity to educate myself. So I did.

The form of quackery, as you will recall, is known as the Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS). What it is, in essence, is industrial strength bleach, 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. It is frequently diluted in acidic juices, such as orange juice, resulting in the formation of chlorine dioxide, which is, as the FDA characterized it, “a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment.” According to its proponents, MMS can cure almost anything: cancer, AIDS, and just about any other serious disease you can imagine. Never mind that there is no biological plausibility and no evidence, either preclinical or clinical, that MMS can do what its proponents claim it can do. True, bleach can kill bacteria or cancer cells in a dish at a high enough concentration, but that doesn’t mean it’s a useful antibiotic or chemotherapeutic agent.

What condition, though, did I neglect? Well, given that this post is about Autism One, the answer should be obvious. Yep, as my reader pointed out, MMS is being featured in a talk at Autism One on Sunday by a woman named Kerri Rivera, who boasts of 38 Children Recovered in 20 months:

This presentation will outline the approach Kerri has used successfully to help recover 38 children from a diagnosis of Autism. She will explain how MMS (chlorine dioxide) has become the “missing piece” to the autism puzzle for so many of the families that she works with. MMS is available worldwide, and is extremely cost effective, bringing recovery in reach of all families, despite economic or geographic limitations. This presentation seeks to prove that Autism truly is curable.

Yes, Autism One is featuring a talk by a woman whose preferred form of therapy, besides hyperbaric oxygen, is to subject autistic children to industrial bleach in the deluded belief that she can “recover” autism with it. Rivera, it turns out, is a woman who runs a clinic in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that she calls AutismO2 Clinica Hyperbarica. If her website is any indication, Rivera gives autistic children MMS by mouth and by enema. (Yes, she subjects autistic children to bleach enemas.) Here’s the protocol:

10-15 drops MMS enabled and 500 mL water
In the colon for 12 – 30 minutes
Use pipette and syringe
Is applied 2 or 3 times per week

Elsewhere, we see this:

Kerri will be discussing recent protocol developments around MMS and Autism, such as loading the dose, the baby bottle, the baking soda mix, enemas, baths, and how to handle a fever.

So let’s see. It appears to me that proponents of MMS not only give MMS to autistic children orally, but bathes them in it and gives them enemas with it. For example, get a load of this webinar about using MMS Jim Humble (the originator of MMS quackery) himself! Predictably, it starts with a “medical disclaimer” (i.e., quack Miranda warning) and then devolves from there:

And here we have Kerri explaining how to administer the MMS by continually upping the dose:

The latter video is pretty appalling. Well, they’re both appalling, but the second one is particularly bad because in it Rivera is describing how, as you up the dose, you’ll see the autistic child do more stimming. She also discusses how they might get diarrhea, but that that’s OK as long as it’s “detox diarrhea.” She even talks about these children having a Herxheimer reaction, which is sometimes seen after the initiation of antibacterials for tick borne relapsing fever. It was first describe as a reaction to the treatment of syphilis with penicillin and is also seen after treatment of other diseases caused by spirochetes, such as Lyme disease and leptospirosis. They talk about the “72-2” protocol, which, if you look at the website, involves giving MMS every two hours for 72 hours. She also recommends “fever therapy” and argues that it’s a good thing that MMS can cause fevers because it’s “waking up the immune system” which realizes that there’s “autism in the house.” She also exults about how she “loves the enemas” so much for autism.

Somehow, I doubt that autistic children like them that much.

Finally, take a gander at the handout that accompanies Rivera’s talk at Autism One. After the predictable Shopenhauer quote about truth “passing through three stages” (whose use is to me one of the surest signs I’m dealing with a quack or crank) her presentation includes a lot of the same nonsense that is touted in the video about bleach being safe and effective. There’s more stuff about “fever therapy” and a lot of stuff about getting rid of parasites, which, if you believe Rivera, MMS does in conjunction with all the other pseudoscience she promotes. She even promotes in essence giving a hot bleach bath (“to tolerance,” as she puts it) along with her fever therapy. Biologists in particular will laugh (or cry) at her misunderstanding of electrochemistry. It’s madness. And what’s her evidence? What do you think it is? It’s nothing more than unconvincing anecdotes.

In retrospect, I should have figured that, if there’s any form of quackery out there, someone, somewhere will be using it on autistic children. MMS is, of course, no different. Two days later, I’m also still amazed that I didn’t know more about MMS. After all, I’ve been looking at quackery of various sorts for over a decade now. I guess that just means there’s always something new to learn and some new woo to hear about—unfortunately. True, many of them are variations on a theme, basically the same old nonsense with a fresh coat of paint slapped on it to make it attractive to the unwary. True, each new generation of quacks appropriates old ideas and tarts them up with the newest science-y sounding terminology of the era in which they operate.

This is also the second time that I’ve seen autism quacks subjecting autistic children to what is, in essence, potentially nasty industrial chemicals. A couple of years ago, I wrote about disgraced chemistry professor and mercury warrior Boyd Haley pumping autistic children full of an industrial chelator. Ultimately, Haley drew the attention of the FDA, which shut him down. Now, we’re seeing quacks douse autistic children in bleach, pump their colons full of it, and feed it to them until they start to have fevers and diarrhea, believing that the diarrhea and fever are evidence that the bleach is working to reverse autism. The diarrhea and fever might well be working to do something, but reversing autism is not part of that something. Making children sick is. Here’s a typical anecdote:

My 14YO son has autism. I’ve been treating him with a parasite cleanse system for 1.5 years (5 days on, 2 days off). He’s made some remarkable improvements, but every time I try to wean him off the cleanse, the parasite symptoms flare up. He is nonverbal and fairly low-functioning, so I don’t get any feedback from him as to how he is feeling. Last week, I started him on 1 drop of MMS then upped the dose to 1 drop, 2x a day this week. After about 4 days at 2 drops/day, he vomited once and had diarrhea all day. I am assuming it is the MMS. I decided to drop down to 1 drop/day again until he gets beyond this. He tends to have loose stools anyway, which I am guessing is related to this ongoing battle with the parasites. His gut tends to be very sensitive to anything I give him, so I have to go very carefully with anything new like the MMS. I am still giving him the other parasite cleanse (Systemic Formulas VRM 1-4). I would love to hear anyone’s ideas or insight into this. I am working with a homeopath who has done extensive research into parasite cleanses, but she has not researched MMS. I’m looking to get my son beyond these parasites once and for all. My homeopath and her colleagues are autism experts and do consults with parents from around the world. They have found that the children with autism who are considered “tough nuts” tend to also be parasite kids. With their compromised immune systems, it is difficult to eradicate parasites.

There’s only one word for this: appalling.