ust $50. A small price to pay for a product that promises the key to good health.
It's called MMS, or Miracle Mineral Solution.
Brain cancer, baldness, AIDS, malaria, you name it. Supporters claim simply drinking MMS will cure it. Even things like eating disorders and Down syndrome.
MMS and its church
"I'm the guy who discovered a mineral solution that I'm proud to say has help saved thousands of lives," said Jim Humble, the man behind the MMS movement.
Humble created his own church, Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, which is focused less on religion and more on retail. It serves as the marketing hub for MMS and now three churches have popped up in North Carolina. One listed in Charlotte, one in Benson, and the third in Winston-Salem.
"We've had thousands of reports of people who have been cured," said Humble. "And I use that term loosely; overcome their health problems."
So is it really a cure-all? Or a modern day snake oil?
WNCN Investigates went to the church in Benson to find out more. The website led to a home address in the middle of town. On our way to the door we met the homeowner on the porch and asked if we could talk about MMS.
"No, sorry," he replied. When we tried to further question him, he said, "I don't know anything," and hurried back inside his house.
Buying MMS in person with TV cameras present didn't seem to work, so WNCN Investigates went online.
Our order arrived with two blue glass bottles -- one was labeled MMS, the other was labeled ACTIVATOR. Both labels also referred to the product as "Sacramental Cleansing Water" with the instructions “to be used only for church sacramental protocols."
The church website listed different "protocols" for each type of illness. Each protocol outlined the number of drops you should drink. Some protocols even call for a user to rub MMS on the skin, breathe in the gas it produces, or create a douche or enema with it.
A miracle cure or toxic bleach?
We took our bottles to two separate chemists, Dr. Ajit Dixit from Wake Tech and Dr. Cassandra Lilly from Shaw University. Both chemists walked us through several experiments, showing us the chemical properties of each solution.
MMS is sodium chlorite. When it is mixed with the included citric acid activator, it creates a "miracle solution" also known as chlorine dioxide.
Lilly said chlorine dioxide is basically bleach.
"They would use it probably to disinfect instruments for example, but not ingest it," Dixit said. "It makes chlorine dioxide gas, which is a very poisonous and very explosive gas. It's used as a bleaching agent in the pulp and paper industry for bleaching wood."
The FDA and similar organizations in the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland and other countries have issued warnings not to drink it. The warnings point out the potent bleach is used for stripping textiles and can cause nausea, vomiting, severe dehydration, and other life-threatening problems.
Chlorine dioxide is used in some municipalities as a water treatment. According the Material Safety Data Sheet for chlorine dioxide, it is a "highly toxic" substance.
"A couple of stomach aches are a health injury? Never heard of it!" Humble said. "There is no logic in that at all. Nobody ever considered a stomach ache a health injury."
How is it still being sold?
So far, four people in the United States have been charged in federal court for selling MMS online.
According the U.S. Department of Justice, Tammy Olson, Karis Delong and Chris Olson pleaded guilty to the interstate shipment of misbranded drugs. Defendant Louis Daniel Smith is awaiting trial, which is currently scheduled for May 18.
Tammy Olson was sentenced in Spokane, Washington, to three years probation, $2,500 fine and 120 hours of community service. Chris Olson faced sentencing in Spokane. Karis Delong is scheduled to be sentenced on .
"The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the health and safety of people with cancer and other serious medical conditions," said Stuart F. Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Division. "Our most vulnerable citizens need real medicine -- not dangerous chemicals peddled by modern-day snake oil salesmen."
But a quick search online will show you MMS is still all over the Internet thanks to a loophole that allows it to be labeled as a water purifier. Some sites sell the product, while others promote the use of it as a cure-all drink. One site even admitted that PayPal blocked payments for MMS, so it will charge you for something else, but actually send you MMS.
Children and autism
Most recently, MMS is being tested by some parents as a cure for autism in children.
WNCN Investigates found a woman named Kerri Rivera, making money pushing MMS online and at conferences around the world. She encourages making baby bottles of MMS or even giving children enemas.
"133 children between the ages of two and 32 have lost their autism diagnosis and I want to point out we've killed nobody," Rivera said.
WNCN Investigates asked Dixit and Lilly if they would ever drink chlorine dioxide.
"Never," Dixit said. "It's an explosive gas and you don't know what it's doing to your body, and it's going to damage your cells."
Lilly agreed, "You should always consult your doctor especially if you're taking other medications it could react with."
The chance to heal an illness is a tough offer to pass up, but scientists and the government are warning people to do their homework before this miracle in a bottle does more harm than help.
WNCN Investigates informed Attorney General Roy Cooper's office about MMS locations in North Carolina. A spokesperson said the office had not heard of any cases of MMS being sold.
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