Parents are still feeding their children bleach to “cure” their autism

There are some forms of quackery that I’ve never been able to understand, quackery that is so bizarre, so without a reasonable scientific rationale, and so potentially harmful that it boggles my mind that anyone would think it is a good idea. One of these is something called the Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), something I first took notice of nearly six years ago. MMS, of course, turns out to be a form of bleach. Specifically, it is, in essence, 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. Feeding autistic children bleach or, even worse, subjecting them to bleach enemas, is horrifying.

I haven’t written about MMS in a while. The last time I did was in 2016, when I discussed a joint investigation between ABC’s 20/20 and the southern California affiliate ABC7 looking at MMS, Jim Humble, founder of the Genesis II Church (which teaches that MMS is the treatment for everything that ails you), and Kerri Rivera, an “autism biomed” advocate who rose to infamy back in 2012 as a prime advocate of bleaching away autism. It was a form of autism quackery that had had its bizarre day and then faded into the obscurity of only the most bizarre underground places of the “autism biomed” movement. Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I thought wrong:

A father in Indianapolis last week accused his wife of feeding their child bleach to help cure her autism – something his wife had read about in a Facebook group.

Police arrested the 28-year-old mother on Saturday after she allegedly put drops of hydrochloric acid and water-purifying solution in her young daughter’s drinks. The potentially dangerous chemical combination, which becomes an industrial bleach, is marketed as Miracle Mineral Solution or Master Mineral Solution, which its advocates claim will cure a number of diseases, including autism, cancer, AIDS and hepatitis.

I must admit that the hydrochloric acid (HCl) is a new and scary twist on this particularly quackery. In the past, MMS advocates advocated using a weak acid in the form of a citrus juice like lemon or orange juice. Depending on the strength of the HCl solution used to “activate” the MMS by releasing the chlorine dioxide bleach, there is great potential for disaster there.

To the best of my knowledge, advocacy of using MMS, either orally or by enema or both first bubbled up from the underground autism “biomed” quackery movement in 2012. As I mentioned before, at that year’s edition of the yearly antivaccine autism quackfest Autism One, Kerri Rivera gave a talk touting how she supposedly “recovered” 38 autistic children in 20 months. At the time, Rivera was running a clinic in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico that she called AutismO2 Clinica Hyperbarica. Surprisingly, the protocol is still there. I say “surprisingly,” because in 2015, facing legal action from the Illinois Attorney General, she signed an assurance of voluntary compliance under which she was barred in Illinois from (a) selling chlorine dioxide or similar substances to Illinois residents and (b) presenting at future Illinois conferences concerning the use of such substances to treat autism. Apparently, though, she is still operating in Mexico.

It’s a long time since I discussed this, I thought I’d go over Rivera’s protocols. There are slideshows on Rivera’s website, albeit in Spanish. Much of them parrot the same sort of nonsense that antivaxers like to parrot, for instance, a model in which “toxins,” diet, genetics, and antibiotics “load the gun.” There’s also a bit about “biofilms there” too. There’s a mention of chelation therapy. Indeed, it’s pretty standard issue chelation therapy quackery. As you may recall, chelation therapy is a quack therapy used in autism that presumes that autism is due to “heavy metal toxicity.” Chelating agents bind to heavy metals and facilitate their excretion in the urine. Unfortunately, among the heavy metals removed are calcium and magnesium, and lowering levels of those two metals too much can result in cardiac arrhythmias and death. This is not a theoretical danger.

Then there’s the MMS protocol. Here, for instance, is the protocol I discussed in 2012:

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

It goes beyond that, though. I also noted that proponents of MMS not only give MMS to autistic children orally, but bathes them in it and gives them enemas with it. Rivera advocated continually upping the dose. She even discussed the potential adverse reactions. I discussed a video in which she discussed how autistic children might get diarrhea from the MMS, but how that was OK as long as it was “detox diarrhea.” She even likened the reaction she expected to a Herxheimer reaction, which is sometimes seen after the initiation of antibacterials for tick borne relapsing fever. It was first described 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. Basically, this reaction is due to the release of endotoxin-like products by microorganisms as they die off during antibiotic treatment. Rivera also discussed what she referred to as the “72-2” protocol, which involves giving MMS every two hours for 72 hours. She also recommended “fever therapy” and argued 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 exulted about how she “loves the enemas” so much for autism.

Surprisingly, her original MMS handout is still available on the Autism One website. I strongly suspect that the Autism One web people simply forgot to get rid of it, which is why I made sure to download a copy immediately as soon as I noticed that it was still there. There’s some hilarious stuff there. (At least, it would be hilarious if not for the vile quackery the claims support.) For instance, there is this:

• Autism is made up of pathogens
– Virus
– Bacteria
– Parasites
– Candida
– Heavy Metals
– Inflammation
– Food allergies

• MMS kills pathogens and neutralizes heavy metals, as well as reduces inflammation.

No, autism is not “made up of pathogens.” Nor is it caused by heavy metals. Even if it were, feeding autistic children bleach and giving them bleach enemas would not eliminate those heavy metals. I do have to admit to some amusement, though, at Rivera’s choice of closing quote:

“Miracles happen every day. Not just in remote country villages or at holy sites halfway across the globe, but here, in our own lives.” – Deepak Chopra.

Yes, that seems appropriate.

Just how nasty this is can be appreciated if you read my discussion of a mother subjecting her child to Kerri’s MMS protocol. During her child’s treatment, she took photos of what came out of her child’s colon. At the time, I likened her “journey” to that of patients undergoing “liver flush” quackery, who claim to be “flushing out” gallstones that are in reality a product of the treatment, not gallstones. In this case, the mother is claiming to flush out “worms. Indeed, the very first example of this can be found in an entry called Worm. Here’s where the gross pictures begin. Now take a look at that link and the picture contained therein. It’s basically a stringy bit of something that looks a little bit like a worm. Jojo’s mom asked her buddies on the MMS Facebook group, all of whom were “pretty sure” it was a worm. It’s not. Any surgeon or doctor who deals with GI problems will recognize it as a bit of mucus, possibly with a bit of colon mucosa (the lining of the colon). We see this sort of thing all the time, and it’s definitely not a worm.

Over the month of April and into May, Jojo’s mother treated her blog readers to regular photos of things like this. For instance, in this post, she spread a bunch of nasty stuff out and photographed it. Kerri Rivera, we are told, informed her that this stuff is “worm INTESTINES. The outer skin is already digested and the inside (intestines etc) disintegrates like this.” No, it was just more mucus mixed with colonic mucosa. Disturbingly to me as a surgeon, it looked to me like a fairly decent-sized chunk of colonic mucosa with mucus. I couldn’t say for sure how large it was because Jojo’s mom was, unfortunately, not kind enough to provide a ruler next to it. We were also treated to more pictures of mucus and sloughed colon mucosa, which Rivera characterizes once again as ” the intestines of the worm, the outer ‘skin’ having already been digested.”

Unfortunately, the Indiana mother described in news reports earlier this week is not alone in subjecting her autistic child to bleach. For instance, last August, there was this news report:

The woman, from Cheshire, has been reported to police for her activity in a secret Facebook group for parents that claims autism is caused by parasites that can be cleansed using the potentially lethal treatment.

However, autism campaigner Emma Dalmayne who infiltrated the group, says the images actually show children’s bowel lining that has been burned away by the bleach.

The treatment being administered is CD (Chloride Dioxide) or MMS (Miracle Mineral Solution), which is administered orally or via an enema.

Dalmayne reported some truly horrible things:

No parents will admit to doing this to their children publicly. This treatment is not illegal at the moment but we need to get rid of it,’ said the mother-of-six.

‘The most extreme case I have seen to date is a six-year-old boy who had to have his bowel removed and a colostomy bag fitted after his parents gave him these enemas.

‘What you see in these images is the bowel lining of these victims.’

And last month we learned:

One British mum, an NHS finance worker, wrote that her son had began to suffer diarrhoea.

Another woman suggests kids should be given 16 doses of the chemical chlorine dioxide each day for between three and six months.

In private messages to our investigator, a mum described how she has turned to chlorine dioxide in desperation.

She explained how her two-year-old “cried really hard” when he was given his first enemas using a water bottle but how things are getting “better and better”.

Trying to convince herself she was ­doing the right thing, she wrote: “Some mean people said it’s bleach and harmful for kids. But it’s helped so many!”

No. It. Hasn’t. At least these news stories reported correctly what all the nasty stuff these mothers of autistic children were inducing their children to excreted from their rectums: Mucus, colonic lining, and poop. They also show images of skin burns from MMS.

so where is all this MMS quackery originating from? I mentioned Jim Humble, who is the founder of the Genesis II Church. Yes, indeed, there’s religion in this quackery, and Genesis II touts it for autism, breast cancer, malaria, and many other diseases. Humble himself claims that he is from another galaxy. Not surprisingly, Humble’s “archbishop” Mark Grenon claimed immunity due to his being an archbishop and Genesis II being a church.

Actually, it’s more like a cult. In reality, it’s a bleach cult, as this Irish report shows, with its expose on quack Dr. Andreas Kalcker. Interestingly, a chemical analysis of MMS undertaken by the reporters doing this segment found that MMS was [email protected] sodium chlorite and 10% chlorine dioxide, both of which are toxic.

Elsewhere in Ireland:

An appeal by a Kildare man against his conviction for the manufacture and supply of an industrial bleach product as illegal medicine has been struck out after he failed to show up in court.

The Circuit Court in Naas struck out the appeal by Patrick Merlehan, who was convicted on 27 October 2016 at Naas District Court of the manufacture and supply of Miracle Mineral Solution, on the Irish market, and was fined a total of €4,000.

Merlehan was fined a total of €4,000 for the manufacture and supply of the unauthorised medicinal product.

And:

Merlehan had offered an autism activist, Fiona O’Leary, MMS as a claimed cure for her child’s autism. Ms O’Leary gave evidence in the 2016 case.

Good going, Fiona!

I’ll end as I began. Jim Humble and Kerri Rivera are quacks of the vilest sort, selling ineffective and potentially dangerous bleach, all the while attacking their critics as vigorously as I mentioned about other quacks yesterday. They’ve also created what advocates call the “CD community” (for chlorine dioxide), where parents swap stories of their experiences with MMS. I keep asking this question: Will the autism “biomed” underground ever renounce using bleach to treat autism? The answer, sadly, appears to be no.