Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.Miracle Mineral Solution has been promoted online as a cure for everything from HIV to cancer. The Food and Drug Administration warned Monday that ingesting it is effectively drinking bleach, and that consuming it has caused a rise in “reports of people experiencing severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration and acute liver failure.”
For almost a decade, the FDA has warned about these types of products, which have been sold as Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Protocol, Water Purification Solution (WPS), among other names.The products are a liquid that’s 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. Users are directed to mix the solution with some kind of acid — like lemon or lime juice — and then drink it. There’s just one problem, the FDA says: when the product is mixed with acid, it becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent.“Miracle Mineral Solution and similar products are not FDA-approved, and ingesting these products is the same as drinking bleach,” said Ned Sharpless, acting FDA commissioner. “Consumers should not use these products, and parents should not give these products to their children for any reason.”READ: This is what happens when parents refuse to vaccinate their kidsAs you’d expect with a name like “Miracle Mineral Solutions,” the liquid has been marketed online as a cure for just about everything, including autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and the flu. An NBC investigation in June showed how social media has boosted the popularity of products like MMS, with some influencers peddling it to their followers as a cure-all. In May, Business Insider reported that YouTube figures — including a man named Jim Humble, a former Scientologist who founded a new church, and author Kerri Rivera — promoted MMS products to millions before the video platform removed their channels. The MMS products have predictably found popularity in the anti-vaxx community.
“Health misinformation has started to infiltrate more mainstream,” Dr. Brittany Seymour, a professor at Harvard University who studies health misinformation online, told NBC News in June. “Historically we relied on the authority of paywalled scientific papers and there were naturally limiting factors that kept the spread of misinformation at bay, like geography and communication barriers. With the internet and social media, those barriers have been removed.”READ: Facebook vows to crack down on anti-vaxxer groups spreading misinformation to parentsThat does not mean these products are gone. A version of MMS appeared to still be on sale on Walmart’s website. There was a disclaimer saying manufacturers, suppliers and others provided the product information on the page.Data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers showed that over the last five years there have been 16,000 cases related to these “miracle cures,” according to NBC. Fifty of those cases were life-threatening.