I’ve been writing about quackery and the antivaccine movement for over two decades, having blogged about these topics for well over 14 years here on SBM and 17 years at my not-so-secret other blog. During that unbelievably—to me—long time, I’ve learned a few things, not the least of which is, as readers no doubt get tired of me repeating since COVID-19 hit, that there is nothing new under the sun with respect to antivax quackery. To put it another way, everything old is new again. I have, of course, written about this in general and in specifics going back to even before the pandemic was officially declared a pandemic, but also in the context of individual antivax claims that have been resurrected, recycled, and given a fresh coat of COVID-19 paint in order to appear shiny and new. Examples include misuse of the VAERS database by antivaxxers to portray COVID-19 vaccines as deadly, as well as claims that vaccines sterilize our womenfolk (or even our girls before they go through puberty). So I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the resurrection of a form of antivaccine quackery commonly used to treat “vaccine-induced” autism back in the day. A decade or so ago, it was all the rage in antivax circles and was featured prominently across multiple years during the yearly antivaccine quackfest known as AutismOne, which was usually held at a hotel near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. True, there are some seemingly new wrinkles based on the fact that the technology used in the first approved vaccines hadn’t been approved for use in vaccines before, but even the claim that the mRNA-based vaccines can “permanently alter your DNA” was not new (and seemingly won’t die).

In light of this history, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that antivaxxers are now touting bleach—excuse me, Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) or chlorine dioxide—as a cure for COVID-19, and I’m not. I am, however, still amazed at how advocates of unscientific medicine can persuade people that a chemical bleach used in water disinfection and purification can cure so many things. MMS is what some refer to as a “zombie treatment” in that it always rises from the dead even when killed. I tend to prefer the term “slasher quackery”, though, because MMS is more like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers, two iconic slashers featured in innumerable horror movies since the 1980s. No matter how many times the slasher appears to have been killed at the end of one installment in the movie franchise, he always returns to kill more hapless college students.

Enter Mark Sircus and an article published a few weeks ago, Chlorine Dioxide Cure For COVID? Of course, quacks began touting MMS as a cure for COVID-19 very early in the pandemic, but, even so and even at this late date in the pandemic, I thought it worth discussing the claims made by Mr. Sircus, who is an acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine who insists on calling himself “doctor” even though he most definitely is not a physician. After all, if grifters can sell magic dirt from a special peat bog in Canada as a cure-all for COVID-19, why not bleach?

Start with a conspiracy…

Sircus, as is typical in these sorts of pitches, starts out with a conspiracy theory about how “they” don’t want you to know about “cures” for COVID-19 (links to Bitchute pages removed):

When discussing any cure for COVID, the first thing to note is that neither health officials nor politicians are interested in a cure. Therefore, to expect any kind of medical sanity or truth from the FDA about what is and is not safe and effective to treat or cure COVID is a bad idea. Trusting the FDA about anything is like trusting a thief or pathological liar.

There is a massive, yawning gulf between what pharmaceutical companies want us to believe about health and medical treatments and reality. Decades of pharmaceutical propaganda have distorted people’s perception of reality so severely that at least half the population has slept [sic] walked into taking experimental vaccines so dangerous that if you die from them, life insurance companies will rule suicide.

They did it. No guns or concentration camps were needed. We have seen two years of them making the world their concentration camp. Pretty impressive. Lockdowns included. Hospitals were one of their primary weapons. There is no doubt that pharmaceutical terrorism is fully operational. However, people are starting to wake up and get smart. A video shot this past weekend in Paris, France, shows thousands of protesters surrounding the headquarters of Pfizer in the nation’s capital and chanting “assassins!”

As we approach the second anniversary of the World Health Organization officially declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, I must admit that before I encountered this post I had not encountered the conspiracy theory that if someone dies from a COVID-19 vaccine insurance companies won’t pay off a life insurance policy because they will rule the death a suicide. I might have to investigate that one further on my not-so-super-secret other blog, but right now doing so would be too much of a diversion. So I’ll just say one word: Wow. Also, sometimes even I can be surprised.

And, of course, Sircus thinks that the vaccines don’t work:

Just about everyone alive today is starting to understand that COVID genetic vaccines are not a cure; they do not stop infection, though perhaps they do provide, at best, temporary protection from the most severe forms of COVID, hospitalization, and death. However, I seriously doubt even that. The most obvious evidence of them not working is the need for boosters and the worldwide sky-high infection rates experienced by the vaccinated. Moreover, with millions of reported adverse reactions and uncountable vaccine deaths, even thinking of COVID vaccines as a cure is a disgusting medical perversion.

Of course, no one claimed that COVID-19 vaccines are a “cure,” although I will admit that they have often been oversold as the be-all and end-all to stop the pandemic, probably because, comparatively speaking and as difficult as even a mass vaccination program is, maintaining policies and mitigations to slow the spread of disease is so much more difficult, particularly given the flood of disinformation about masks and “lockdowns”—seriously, is there anywhere in the US or Europe where there’s anything even resembling a “lockdown” any more?—and the pandemic weariness of the public, vaccination is “easy.” Similarly, the emergence of variants like Delta and Omicron doesn’t mean that the vaccines don’t work. They were a not-unexpected and feared result of letting the virus circulate so widely, where the selective pressure on the virus has always been to develop the capability to spread more easily and quickly, vaccines or not. Similarly, what Sircus neglects to point out is that these variants, particularly Omicron, have shown as remarkable an ability to evade “natural” (more properly, infection-induced) immunity as they have to evade vaccine-induced immunity. Moreover, the need for vaccine boosters is not an indication that the vaccines don’t work, just that immunity from them can wane, just as “natural immunity” (again, more properly called infection-induced immunity or postinfection immunity) wanes as well. And don’t get me started on Sircus’ parroting of the antivaccine misuse of the VAERS database to misattribute reports there as definitely having been caused by the vaccine and thereby portray a “vaccine Holocaust“.

Similarly, it is just not true that “early treatment” has been ignored by big pharma and the medical profession (presumably in favor of the evil vaccine). Early in the pandemic, it was determined, for instance, that the steroid dexamethasone could decrease mortality from COVID-19, and physicians were so desperate that they repurposed the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment, even in the absence of good evidence that it actually worked. Moreover, the development of drugs like Paxlovid and molnupiravir, both of which were intended to be early treatments for COVID-19 that could prevent its progression to severe disease, shows that finding effective antiviral treatments for COVID-19 has been a strategy to combat the pandemic since the beginning, a strategy that is only recently starting to bear fruit because drug development takes time. Of course, antivaccine conspiracy theorists like to refer to Paxlovid, for instance, as “Pfizermectin” based the mechanism of Paxlovid being protease inhibition, a mechanism supposedly shared by ivermectin, antivaxxer’s favorite repurposed drug that doesn’t work against COVID-19,.

But what about MMS?

Miracle Mineral Solution (a.k.a. chlorine dioxide bleach): The wonder drug?

Given the setup about how “early treatment” and “cures” for COVID-19 are supposedly being “suppressed”, all, apparently, to allow for tyrannical governments to impose “lockdowns” and mask mandates, while killing their citizens with a vaccine that doesn’t work—because “depopulation”?—Sircus gets into the meat of his claims for MMS, starting first with the observation that…well, let’s just look:

So what is chlorine dioxide, and why should everyone have some ready at home? Dr. Stephanie Seneff, writing for the Weston Price organization, says, “Chlorine dioxide (CD) is a strong oxidizing agent that has found many applications in wastewater treat­ment and food disinfection. It is popular among campers as a way to disinfect water taken from a lake or stream prior to using it as drinking water. In recent years, it has become a popular treatment choice among alternative medicine specialists for various diseases and conditions, despite the fact that the mainstream medical establishment has come down very hard against it. To say that it is controversial would be an understatement.”

Of course, it’s not really “controversial”; that is, unless you’re a believer. Physicians know that drinking a bleaching chemical most commonly used as a surface disinfectant and water purification chemical is incredibly unlikely to produce a therapeutic effect on a viral disease, just based on mechanism alone. It is interesting, however, to look at what the reference cited by Sircus also says about MMS:

Kerri Rivera is the mother of an autistic child. Like many other parents of autistic chil­dren, she was desperate to find a way to improve her child’s autistic symptoms. She spent over a million dollars trying to find a treatment that would work to heal her son. She was sufficiently impressed with the improvements she witnessed following CD treatment that she decided to become actively involved in promoting the idea that it might be useful for autism.

Kerri has developed a protocol to treat autism that includes various nutritional supplements (such as chondroitin sulfate and vitamin D) and a modified ketogenic diet that eliminates gluten and casein. Although the protocol can also include a number of other components— anti-parasitic medications, humic and fulvic acid, black seed oil, digestive enzymes, binders, thyroid supplements, ionic foot baths and hy­perbaric oxygen—she believes that an essential aspect is the idea of frequent tiny doses of CD throughout the day.

Before I briefly revisit Kerri Rivera’s claims, I’ll just remind readers that MMS is 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. Proponents recommend diluting MMS in either water or a food acid, such as lemon juice, a process that results in the formation of chlorine dioxide. In essence, MMS is equivalent to an industrial-strength bleach and disinfectant. I’ll briefly revisit its history, as well, for those not familiar with it. MMS was originally sold by a man named Jim Humble, who has long claimed that MMS can be used to successfully treat AIDS, hepatitis A, B, and C, malaria, herpes, TB, most cancer and many more of mankind’s worse diseases. He even goes so far as to claim that 5,000,000 people have used MMS and that “hundreds of thousands” of lives have been saved. Unfortunately, it appears that for this function Jim Humble uses more concentrated MMS—a lot more concentrated. More horrifically, Humble bestows his “blessings” on poor people in less developed countries like Haiti.

Of course, Rivera has been featured on this blog before, beginning a decade ago when I wrote about how she was “bleaching away what ails you“, specifically in her case, autism. Perhaps the most horrific part of Rivera’s MMS protocol for autism was the method of use of MMS. She not only recommended feeding autistic children bleach until they started showing signs of becoming ill from it, but also advocated bleach enemas. What horrified me the most about this quackery is how MMS advocates misinterpreted the “strings” and “rope-like” things they fish out of their children’s stools as “parasites” dying from the MMS when in fact any surgeon or gastroenterologist would recognize them as sloughed pieces of the lining of the colon. At least Sircus doesn’t appear to recommend MMS enemas, but it’s likely because adults, unlike autistic children, would not be likely to stand for the discomfort that bleach enemas would cause.

Let’s return to Sircus’ claims. His “logic” (such as it is) is very much like the “logic” used by believers in colloidal silver, namely that if a substance is an effective antibacterial and antiviral agent for surfaces and water, then it will be a cure for bacterial and viral infections when taken internally:

Once dissolved in water, this gas releases free oxygen – much in the same way as hydrogen peroxide will. The magic happens when oxygen & chlorine are bound in one molecule; there are VERY few pathogens found in water that can survive coming into contact with this compound! This is why this compound has become the chemical of choice for water sanitation the world over!

Dr. Puya Yazdi states firmly, “Chlorine dioxide is an antiviral. It destroys the proteins on the outside of viruses and degrades the virus.”

Chlorine dioxide gas is effective against:

  • Human influenza (IFV)
  • Measles
  • Human herpes (HHV)
  • Human adenovirus (HAdVs)
  • Influenza A (in mice)

Chlorine dioxide solution also inactivated human and monkey rotaviruses (that cause diarrhea) and hepatitis A.

Again, it is important to emphasize that a chemical that can kill bacteria and inactivate viruses on surfaces and in water will rarely be effective doing the same thing in the body, usually because of the required concentrations involved. Colloidal silver, for instance, is used as a topical antibacterial agent to treat wounds, particularly burn wounds. It works because it is possible to get a high enough concentration of silver on the surface of a wound for it to work without too much of it being absorbed into the bloodstream at toxic levels. (Unsurprisingly, colloidal silver has been touted as a cure for COVID-19 as well.) Even at nontoxic doses, prolonged use of colloidal silver can produce argyria and turn you blue. As infectious disease specialist and former SBM blogger Mark Crislip once noted as well, it’s not even clear that colloidal silver is that great a medicine for burn wounds.

None of this stops Mr. Sircus from referring to MMS as the “Tiger tank of modern medicine“:

It is hard to dispute; once you get to know chlorine dioxide like millions already do, that it is the Tiger Tank of medicine, the point of the spear, an essential treatment that the FDA will never accept. It really is too good to be true, but it is true, as campers and water treatment systems have known for decades.

Being the World War II buff that I am—since junior high!—I can’t help but interject here the Tiger was a German heavy tank that was feared for its destructiveness and heavy armor that made it difficult to destroy or disable. I also can’t resist pointing out that the Tiger was also very expensive (costing twice as much per tank as a Panzer), difficult to manufacture, and very fuel inefficient, even for a tank. I thus suggest that Mr. Sircus’ analogy might not quite be the one he was looking for.

Sircus continues:

Chlorine dioxide empowers the immune system giving it a massive assist in its battle against pathogens and diseases. Though it is not the only oxygen therapy that can and should be employed, it is best if near-instant results are required, which is crucial if you come down with a COVID and suffer from a severe drop in oxygen.

Elsewhere, Mr. Sircus claims:

There are other ways to ram oxygen down our mitochondria’s throats. However, one of the best and least expensive ways is chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide” is a substance that provides oxygen to tissues and all body fluids, activating the mitochondria of cells, which in turn generate more energy that allows the body to recover.

Dr. Andreas Klacher says, “Many debilitating secondary infections with their toxins will be neutralized, thus relieving the liver and kidneys. In addition, there is much more oxygen and thus much more energy in the body. Chlorine dioxide thus provides more quality of life and lifetime in the short term.”

While it is true that immune cells generate oxygen free radicals to attack and destroy pathogens, it does not follow from this physiological function of the immune system that ingesting an oxidizing agent will help the immune system generate this oxygen. For one thing, these cells generate high concentrations of these free radical in a hyperlocal fashion, releasing them when they are in close contact with the pathogen being attacked. For another thing, the low oxygen levels in the blood are different problem in that they are due to poor gas exchange in the lungs as a result of the inflammation caused by the virus and the immune response to it. Conceivably, adding more free radical to the mixture (if that were even possible using MMS) could just as likely make the clinical situation worse by increasing the inflammation in the lungs due to the immune system attacking the virus as make it better—probably more likely. Indeed, even if MMS did “ram oxygen down our mitochondrias’ throats” that would not necessarily be a good thing if it generated too many free radicals, which can damage DNA and proteins, potentially even killing cells (which could increase inflammation) and even be carcinogenic.

That reminds me. Mr. Sircus repeats the false antivax claim that COVID-19 vaccines can cause cancer, touting MMS as—you guessed it!—the cure for vaccine-induced cancer. Whom does he cite to support this claim? Andreas Kalcher, who, shockingly, appears to have been featured on this blog only one time before, in the context of a discussion of how Jim Humble and his Genesis II Church have been one of the primary promoters of MMS quackery around the world. Kalcker, it turns out, is quite the quack. He’s a true believer in MMS and has used it to treat autism, even using intravenous MMS to treat COVID-19. You heard that right, intravenous bleach! In addition to recommending the ingestion of bleach, bleach enemas, and bathing in bleach, there are quacks using intravenous bleach to treat COVID-19.

Also, why is Mr. Sircus referencing campers and water treatment systems? It is true that chlorine dioxide is used as a water treatment, both in water treatment systems and as water purification tablets for campers. It works mainly through oxidation to kill bacteria and inactivate viruses. It has some advantages over traditional chlorine, but is more expensive and is often used with chlorine to disinfect pools and water. Also:

Acute exposure of the skin to chlorine that originates from the decomposition of chlorine dioxide causes irritations and burns. Eye exposure eyes to chlorine dioxide causes irritations, watering eyes and a blurry sight. Chlorine dioxide gas can be absorbed by the skin, where it damages tissue and blood cells. Inhalation of chlorine dioxide gas causes coughing, a sore throat, severe headaches, lung oedema and bronchio spasma. The symptoms can begin to show long after the exposure has taken place and can remain for a long time. Chronical exposure to chlorine dioxide causes bronchitis. The health standard for chlorine dioxide is 0,1 ppm.

I would also note that the concentration used to disinfect water is generally on the order of 1-5 ppm, which is a very high concentration to try to achieve in the body. Of course, I’ve done the math before regarding the claimed use of MMS to treat children and found that the amount recommended in, for example, Kerri Rivera’s protocol is easily much more than 120 times the amount of chlorine dioxide a child would get from just drinking tap water.

Mr. Sircus even goes beyond this and claims that MMS is so miraculous that it can dissolve blood clots caused by COVID-19 spike protein. It is, of course, true that clotting is a major complication of COVID-19 resulting in cardiac and pulmonary complications that can (and often do) lead to death. Referencing Kalcker again, Sircus exults:

Chlorine dioxide works on the central damaging aspect of COVID vaccines, which is coagulation in the blood. “Normally doctors prescribe an anticoagulant, such as warfarin, which is a substance equal to rat poison, which in the long term, will cause strokes, etc. So it’s not a solution at all. However, chlorine dioxide is a solution because we have seen that it directly dissolves mini clots before they get bigger,” says Dr. Andreas Kalcker.

“Oxygen deprivation is the cause of death for most covid-19 victims. Chlorine dioxide floods the blood with oxygen, immediately enriching the hemoglobin molecules on red blood cells and allowing patients to breathe again,” continues Kalcker.

Notably, many sick and dying have red blood cells clumping together and are not moving freely. Severely clumped red blood cells (Rouleau) affect proper oxygenation because the red blood cells do not circulate well enough to deliver oxygen where it is needed. Early in the pandemic, New York physicians noted that it seemed COVID patients had been transported to 30,000 feet in altitude and were starving for oxygen. This video shows that after taking chlorine dioxide, the red blood cells regain proper size and shape and move freely through the blood.

Note first how Sircus blames COVID-19 vaccines for blood clots. While it’s true that certain COVID-19 vaccines have been associated with (rare) clotting issues, he doesn’t mention that COVID-19 itself is so much more likely to cause blood clots that are one of the consequences of the infection that endanger life than even the highest risk from the vaccine ginned up by the most hysterical antivaxxers that it is far, far safer to be vaccinated than it is to get COVID-19. That is not the narrative that quacks like Sircus like to promote, however.

I must admit that that video is…something else. Whoever made it claims to have had a person drink 280 ml of a 114 ppm solution of chlorine dioxide, touted as “3x the therapeutic dose” and having had a blood draw before and after. The claim is that the red blood cells go from clumped to freely moving, indicating that they can now deliver oxygen appropriately. Of course any hematopathologist or hematologist will tell you that the appearance of red blood cells under the microscope is highly dependent on a number of factors, in particular how long the sample has been sitting after being drawn and how it was prepared (anticoagulant included or not?). This exercise in microscopy is nothing more than glorified live blood analysis that tells us nothing informative. Moreover, even if you take this video at face value, it’s one person. Unless one can show effects in a large number of people and correlate them to actual functional changes that improve the ability of the red blood cells to transport oxygen—instead of just alleged changes in appearance—you’ve shown nothing.

I like to think of it as a Rorschach test, only using red blood cells instead of inkblots. Interestingly, even if you take this test at face value—which you definitely should not—it shows the “effect” of chlorine dioxide wearing off at two hours, which would imply that you’d better keep drinking bleach to maintain a steady state level. Of note, that’s not how even MMS advocates recommend using it.

Bleach will not treat or cure COVID-19

When COVID-19 first hit, those of us who had been deconstructing various forms of quackery and antivaccine misinformation fully expected that pretty much every quackery under the sun would be recommended for the new coronavirus disease. Even now, more than a decade after I first learned that “autism biomed” quacks were using bleach (MMS) to treat autism, which they (of course) believed to be caused by vaccines, I still shake my head that anyone could think that ingesting (or injecting) a strong oxidizing agent can treat a viral disease based on its properties disinfecting surfaces and water. Yet they do, and here we are. I suppose that I shouldn’t be so surprised, given that homeopaths think that they can also treat COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the latest installment in the MMS horror franchise is COVID-19.

Slasher poker

Which of these iconic horror movie slashers is MMS?

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Posted by David Gorski

Dr. Gorski's full information can be found here, along with information for patients. David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS is a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute specializing in breast cancer surgery, where he also serves as the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer Liaison Physician as well as an Associate Professor of Surgery and member of the faculty of the Graduate Program in Cancer Biology at Wayne State University. If you are a potential patient and found this page through a Google search, please check out Dr. Gorski's biographical information, disclaimers regarding his writings, and notice to patients here.