Amanda Zeigler spends much of her free time involved in an undercover operation. The mother, from Florida in the US, acts as a mole in closed Facebook groups in which parents peddle dangerous claims about a substance known as MMS, or Miracle Mineral Solution. Cloaked by a fake profile, she observes as people report administering the product to their child orally, or sometimes via enema, in an effort to ‘treat’ Autism Spectrum Disorder.
This so-called ‘miracle’ substance is also known by another name: chlorine dioxide. Industrial bleach.
Speaking to Mamamia‘s daily podcast, The Quicky, Amanda said she came across MMS while researching Autism, after her own son’s diagnosis six years ago. She’s been fighting against the product ever since.
The undercover operation to stop a deadly Autism “cure”. Post continues after podcast.
“When my son first got diagnosed, I decided to join Autistic-led groups and I realised that this was a major problem. I met up with a lady online, who lives in the UK. Her name is Emma Dalmayne, and she started the undercover operation,” Amanda said.
“We search for groups that are marketing these ‘cures’. They can either be called CD — chlorine dioxide or MMS. We find people who admit to doing it. There are quite a few people who would post pictures of intestinal lining in a diaper or on a piece of toilet paper or a paper towel or whatever they could find, and they believe that these pieces of intestine were actually a parasite that meant the Autism was leaving their child.”
What is MMS, and where have these claims come from?
Miracle Mineral Solution is typically comprised of citric acid with sodium chlorite or chlorine dioxide, which are chemicals used for bleaching textiles and paper, disinfecting surfaces and, in extremely diluted form, to disinfect municipal drinking water.
A man by the name of Jim Humble, self-styled archbishop of the ‘Genesis II Church of Health and Healing’, claims to have discovered that chlorine dioxide cures malaria while prospecting for gold in South America in 1996. Since then, he’s gone on to claim that his chemical solution, marketed as MMS, can “restore partial or full health” to people suffering from conditions from diabetes to cancer, Parkinson’s, M.S., HIV and AIDS infections, as well as treat Autism.
He’s toured the world peddling the product, and his message has now sparked a worldwide movement, with hundreds of YouTube videos showing users how to buy it, mix it and administer it. And people are listening.
Media have uncovered accounts from people who’ve taken or administered MMS orally, rectally and even as drops into the eyes or ears. This despite the fact that there are no proven medical benefits. None. In fact, doses of chlorine dioxide at the strength found in MMS can be extremely harmful to a person’s health.
What are the health risks of MMS?
Speaking to Mamamia’s The Quicky podcast, Dr Ken Harvey from Monash University said there are many potential health risks that can come with consuming MMS.
“It’s a very strong bleach and if you swallow it, then you can get mouth ulcers, you can get gastric upset, you can get perforations of your gut,” he said. “There’s been a number of cases of people reported with serious problems having consumed this stuff. So it’s not for therapeutic use, it’s not for oral use, it’s not for rectal use. It’s for [washing out] cow sheds.”
The Australian regulatory body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, issued a warning about MMS in 2014, in which it stated that the product has no therapeutic benefit and “may have toxic effects”.
“It contains 28 per cent sodium chlorite,” the warning read. “Products containing this concentration of sodium chlorite pose a serious health risk if consumed by humans and should be labelled with warnings and the word ‘POISON’.”
Fairfax reported that at least four Victorians were hospitalised after consuming MMS between 2009 and 2014, and it’s been linked to at least one fatality. American woman Sylvia Fink drank MMS while sailing off Vanuatu in 2010 in the hope it would protect her from malaria. She suffered extreme abdominal cramps and vomiting, before slipping into a coma. Twelve hours after taking the solution, she was dead.
What’s being done?
It’s not illegal to sell or distribute chlorine dioxide. In fact, there are a number of Australian-based websites that offer MMS. But it’s not approved by the TGA for therapeutic use, meaning it could be illegal to claim that it can treat/cure disease.
Meanwhile, social media platforms are working to halt the spread of the message. After a report by Business Insider earlier this month about pro-MMS videos being hosted on YouTube, the platform removed a number of the clips. In April, Facebook deleted several chlorine dioxide pages and groups, some with thousands of members, citing a policy against content that promotes illegal drugs.
And on Tuesday, NBC reported that online retailer Amazon had removed two of Jim Hubble’s books about MMS from its site.
Meanwhile, Amanda and her fellow moles continue their grassroots undercover operation. Once they gather identifying details for a person who claims to have been administering MMS to their child, they pass all the relevant information on to Child Protective Services. Privacy laws mean they are never told the outcome of their complaint.
Still, that doesn’t deter Amanda.
“If we don’t do it, no one else is going to do it,” she said. “No one else is looking out for these children.”