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FDA Warns Against Drinking Products That Falsely Claim to ‘Cure Autism’ and Actually Contain Bleach

A former Scientologist who founded his own church is credited with developing the “Miracle Mineral Solution,” which is chlorine dioxide, to cure illnesses ranging from autism to AIDS

A woman grocery shops in a brightly lit laundry detergent aisle stocked with white jugs of Clorox bleach. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers this week about dangerous bleach-based products promoted through online communities that falsely claim to cure autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis this week. In a press release and accompanying consumer update, the agency raised concern over new reports of people becoming severely ill after using products containing industrial-grade bleach to treat various medical conditions.

Websites selling Miracle Mineral Solution generally describe the product as a liquid mix of 28 percent sodium chlorite — a chemical disinfectant — in distilled water. The illicit products typically instruct users to mix the sodium chlorite with citric acid such as lime or lemon juice. This process creates chlorine dioxide, a compound that’s more typically used to treat water and bleach wood pulp and should never, ever be consumed or force-fed to children as a supplement to cure autism.

As if this isn’t obvious, drinking the bleach water can cause a lot of harm to humans. The FDA details reports of “people experiencing severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure” after drinking the highly toxic products with labels such as Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Protocol, and Water Purification Solution (WPS).

The internet has long been a bastion for fringe groups pedaling misinformation about health and science. Some online communities dedicated to autism treatments are known for proliferating pseudoscientific propaganda about vaccinations and fake “cures.” Jim Humble, a former Scientologist who founded his own church, is credited with developing the “Miracle Mineral Solution” as a treatment of serious illnesses such as AIDS and cancer in the early aughts without any evidence to support his claims.

The Miracle Mineral Solution further infiltrated the autism community and conspiracy theory sites after being promoted by Kerri Rivera, a former Chicago real estate agent who authored a book on bleach treatments for people with autism. The dangerous book was removed from Amazon’s marketplace this spring, along with roughly a dozen similar titles promoting the chlorine dioxide treatment, following a shocking NBC News report about the disturbing number of parents feeding their autistic children bleach.

At least seven deaths between 2009 and 2018 have been linked to poisoning from the Miracle Mineral Supplement, according to the New York Times. Those deaths and associated poisonings are also likely underreported in part because the products themselves tell users that vomiting and diarrhea are side effects of the treatment.

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