In a previous post I made the comment that “miracle mineral” solution (MMS) is made from sodium chlorite, which is one of the active ingredients of Janola, a commonly used bleach/cleaning agent in New Zealand. As has been pointed out in a comment by Ted Seay on my previous post, this is incorrect – while MMS does indeed use sodium chlorite, Janola contains sodium hypochlorite, a different oxidising agent.
Like other bloggers, science bloggers make mistakes occasionally. When this happens it is important to admit and correct the error because this is how science works.
So now that this correction has been made, let’s take the opportunity to look at the difference between these two chlorine based oxidants, what they are used for and how they work.
Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) is commonly used in household bleach often at concentrations of about 3 – 8%. Because it readily breaks down to produce sodium chloride (NaCl) and sodium chlorate (NaClO3) most bleach solutions also contain low concentrations of sodium hydroxide which slows down this decomposition.
When dissolved in water sodium hypochlorite produces hypochlorous acid, a strong oxidant capable of killing various micro-organisms as well as reacting with a wide range of biological molecules. This is why it is so effective as a bleach. This is also why, in emergencies, adding a small amount of bleach solution to potentially contaminated water (5 drops per litre) is often recommended by civil defence. As such a low dose it should kill most microbes in the water, but still is dilute enough to have no toxic effects on the body.
Sodium chlorite (NaClO2) on the other hand is used to generate chlorine dioxide (ClO2) for the bleaching of paper, textiles and sometimes to disinfect water supplies. Chlorine dioxide is a very effective oxidising agent/disinfectant.
Those promoting “Miracle Mineral” Solution (MMS) generally advise that it is produced by reacting sodium chlorite with a weak acid such as citric acid. When the acid is added it produces chlorous acid (HClO2) which degrades to chlorine dioxide (ClO2) which then degrades to chlorite, chlorate (ClO3–) and eventually chloride ions (Cl–).
So that’s the chemistry. And this chemistry helps explain why it doesn’t make sense to use MMS to treat internal diseases.
Why the use of MMS INTERNALLY doesn’t make sense
1) One of the reasons that sodium chlorite/citric acid is very useful in industry as a surface disinfectant is that it breaks down really quickly. This is why it is often mixed together just before use. The resulting chlorine dioxide then rapidly reacts with organic matter (e.g. bacteria) and is reduced to chlorites and any excess quickly evaporates from the surface being disinfected. However, when administered internally, the chlorine dioxide will be broken down long before it gets to where the disease is (perhaps the exception here would be mouth infections?).
2) On many of the websites that sell MMS they claim or imply that it is effective in treating complex diseases such as cancer, AIDS, colds, Lyme disease, malaria and kidney disease. Given how well understand how at least some of these diseases work, it makes no sense that MMS will work.
3) If MMS did work against these and other diseases those who have been cured would be presenting themselves to doctors, and the developer would probably been nominated for several Nobel prizes.
4) MMS follows the same pattern as many other pseudo-scientific treatments that have come before it – lots of hype, the selling of basic chemicals with ridiculous mark ups, and no verifiable results.
Definitely a “treatment” to avoid.