No, the Red Cross did not use MMS to cure Malaria
An article from NaturalNews, and an accompanying video, claims that the Red Cross has used the “Miracle Mineral Supplement” (MMS) to cure Malaria, a mosquito driven disease that is caused by the parasite Plasmodium. This claim has since been repudiated by the Red Cross who state that they had no affiliation with the makers of this video and that they have never used MMS in a trial to cure Malaria.
MMS (also called Master Mineral Supplement) is a solution of 28% Sodium Chlorite in distilled water. Marketed as a cure for multiple medical conditions including Autism, HIV, Hepatitis, Influenza, Cancer and now Malaria. Sodium Chlorite itself is toxic, and can result in kidney failure at large doses, with lesser dosages resulting in milder symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
Depending on the marketing, users are instructed to add a mild acid such as lime or lemon juice to the mixture. This would create a solution called chlorine dioxide, which is used as an industrial bleach and is extremely toxic. Thankfully the doses recommended by purveyors of MMS are not typically fatal and only result in nausea and vomiting, dehydration and other moderate reactions. However, there have been some cases of severe reactions.
In August of 2009 a woman died while taking MMS as a preventative for Malaria. Before then, in 2008 an elderly man was hospitalized and nearly died as a result of taking MMS. The supplement is illegal in Canada, where its Health Department stated:
Miracle Mineral Solution provides approximately 200 times more sodium chlorite than the tolerable daily intake of sodium chlorite in water established by Health Canada.
Other regulatory organizations, notably the FDA, have stated unequivocally that MMS neither works for any of the medical conditions it claims to, nor is it safe for human consumption.
Claims without Evidence
No real study has been done of MMS in humans. As far as I’m aware no study has been done in animals. This is because the claims made by pushers of MMS are scientifically ludicrous.
The primary ingredient, Sodium Chlorite, is itself toxic. This doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be medicinal: chemotherapy is essentially a toxin. That’s why people’s hair falls out, they become nauseated and their immune system is suppressed when they’re on it. But chemotherapy and MMS have nothing in common.
Sodium Chlorite is lethal at 10 grams. Even at doses as low as 1 gram it can cause nausea, vomiting and a condition called hemolysis, which is the rupturing of blood cells. This condition itself can be fatal.
If Sodium Chlorite weren’t bad enough, MMS proponents instruct users to add citric acid to the supplement. This turns the Sodium Chlorite into Chlorine Dioxide. Chlorine Dioxide is a potent bleach, used in the manufacturing of wood pulp, industrial water treatment and disinfectant. It is extremely toxic in moderate doses and has no known health benefits if ingested.
Despite this, and the fact that this treatment produces a toxic chemical, proponents of MMS make wild claims about its efficacy in treating almost any medical condition. This is laughable on its face: something that treats a viral infection wouldn’t do much good against a bacterium, against a fungus, or against cancer. They are very different medical conditions and require very different treatments. It’s the same reason why antibiotics aren’t effective against viruses.
MMS proponents, the chief of which is Jim Humble, have yet to offer a mechanism for why this substance would cure a single disease, let alone a perform clinical trial. Compare that to chemotherapy which produces similar symptoms (nausea and vomiting) but has clear evidence of its efficacy. Chemotherapy works by killing cells in your body. It does this by preventing mitosis, or cell reproduction, and tends to work on fast-acting cell divisions, most of which are cancerous cells. Sadly, the chemotherapy can’t really tell the difference between cancer and regular cells, which is why people get very sick while using it. But the mechanism for why it works is very well understood and it has mountains of evidence backing up its efficacy.
Compare that to MMS which has an underground following but no science to prove its effectiveness. In fact, proponents have yet to provide a reasonably mechanism why such a substance would work. Why would industrial bleach cure any disease, let alone a myriad of diseases which have different behaviors in the body?
Malaria, The Red Cross, and Uganda
Enter the Malaria in Uganda video. In it Jim Humble describes the efforts of the Red Cross to cover up the “evidence” of MMS’s efficacy. He claims that the individuals treated with MMS had a 100% cure rate. Read that again: 100% of patients, so claims the video, were cured of Malaria, in a single day.
I’m not aware of any medical intervention that has a 100% effectiveness. The human body is complex and although some treatments are very effective, there are still outliers. One of my neurology teachers told me this: there are no absolutes, especially in biology.
In addition, Malaria cannot be “cured” in a day. But that’s what the video describes. In the video, which shows aid workers wearing Red Cross t-shirts and does appear to show some individuals who work for, or perhaps volunteer with, the Red Cross administering treatments, we are told that individuals treated with MMS were checked for Malaria a day after treatment and showed no signs of Malaria. Typical Malaria treatment, which is 90% effective, takes about two weeks. The parasite itself can remain dormant in the liver for several years on rare occasions.
The claims that MMS cured Malaria with 100% effectiveness in 24 hours is ridiculous. In order for that to be effective it would have to be capable of killing every single parasite within the host. There is no known mechanism by which industrial bleach can do that, at least not at the dosage used with MMS. The amount of MMS that would actually kill plasmodium parasites would kill the host, probably before it even had time to get to all the parasites.
The video also claims that the Red Cross is operating a conspiracy to hide these results. Which begs the question: what conspiracy is capable of strong arming an independent, international medical association but is incapable of removing a single Youtube video?
The narrative, as explained by Jim Humble and Leo Koehof, who is the CEO of the Water Reference Center (which has also dissociated itself from this trial) and the driving force behind the “study”. He also states that he is a former member of the Belgian Special Forces, a claim that doesn’t appear to have any bearing on the present study, and one that I’ve no desire to fact-check.
Koehoff, who narrates the bulk of the video, claims that he was asked to come to a small Ugandan village as the “guest of the Ugandese [sic] Red Cross”. It is implied by the video that Koehoff was asked by the Red Cross to test MMS on the Ugandan population. According to the video, the success rate was 100% within 24 hours.
Now, I’m not saying that’s impossible. It is just better than any other known medical intervention of which I am aware.
But the crux of the video is that after the trial was completed the Red Cross, who had (according to Koehoff) invited them to Uganda, later attempted to cover-up their research. The Red Cross denies both of these allegations.
Essentially we are asked to believe the makers of this unsourced video over the Red Cross. In the end, there’s nothing I can write that will convince anyone who is unwilling to believe the Red Cross at their word. If you’re a person who is willing to believe NaturalNews over the Red Cross I’ll just ask you this: Which is more likely: that a non-profit organization whose stated mission is to treat illnesses such as Malaria denies a treatment that is both effective and cheap because they are a member of a cabal designed to discredit an individual (Jim Humble) with no scientific or medical training whose miracle cure defies the known laws of science, or these people are lying?
Edit: 2/21/16 @ 8:52 AM
Twitter User @ brought something to my attention earlier today which I frankly hadn’t investigated: the test that Koehoff used was probably ineffective and the individuals who originally tested positive for Malaria were most likely false positives. I couldn’t find any data on the false positive rate of the Rapid Diagnostic Test for Malaria, but on the WHO website this statement:
Ultimately, it is important that both sensitivity and specificity remain high, so that both malaria and non-malarial fevers receive appropriate management. However sometimes it may be more important to have very high sensitivity even at the expense of high specificity, as a missed parasitaemia may lead to death of a patient.
caught my attention. The WHO (rightly so) prefers a more sensitive test (i.e. more prone to false positives) than a high specificity test (which would be more prone to false negatives). In other words they’d rather have people misdiagnosed with Malaria than have someone who has malaria not diagnosed. And when you’re running field trials this makes sense because you can’t afford to wait a couple of days for a lab test from somewhere possibly hundreds of miles away.
It is possible that the initial Malaria test was a false positive. Sadly there’s no way to know either way. The video does show that the diagnosis was “confirmed” in a lab some days later, and even has an individual in a white lab coat speaking to the camera. Her name is “Betty” and she is listed as a “Senior Clinician”. Where she’s a senior clinician at I’m not sure. She states:
We have many people with Malaria, but after giving them the treatment, all of them, they have no parasite, of Malaria.
Which seems to support Koehoff’s claims. Or her statement could be taken out of context, and she may have been speaking of another treatment. Or she could simply be mistaken. Or she could be lying. There’s no way to know since her last name isn’t given and where she is a “Senior Clinician” at isn’t mentioned.
As far as the protocol of the trial, it is written in a way that may make it prone to False Positives. Individuals were screened in the field for Malaria. Those who were found positive were given the treatment and their bloodwork was sent to the lab for confirmation. It’s not clear in the video which happened first, or if additional blood work was taken the next day and sent to the lab as well. Twenty-four hours later the individuals were asked to return and they were tested for Malaria. It isn’t mentioned if this was performed by the RDT or by a lab clinician, but I’ll wager it was the RDT. What I think is likely, and it’s hard to determine this from the video, is that the initial RDT was a false positive, which was confirmed by the lab a few days later. In the interim between the RDT and the lab work the individuals received the MMS treatment which “cured” the Malaria they didn’t even have. The lab work later confirmed their lack of Malaria. The video only mentions a single lab test, and it is possible (although seems rather poorly designed if true) that the people running this “trial” of MMS made an error in their study design by only having a single blood test at the beginning of the treatment. Again there is no way to determine this from the video itself.
In all likelihood the individuals running this study were mistaken, rather than liars. They looked for any evidence that confirms their beliefs, also known as confirmation bias.
@ also has an interesting hypothesis regarding the Red Cross’s involvement in the study, which you can read here. He surmises that the Ugandan Red Crescent Society (an arm of the Red Cross) made a mistake and did invite Koehof to the village of Luuka. It may be that they invited the Water Reference Center, which focuses on purifying water and is not an MMS pusher, to run a trial of water purification on Malaria and that Koehoff, who may or may not have been affiliated with the WRC at the time of the trial, shoehorned MMS into the larger water trial, or that Koehoff hoodwinked either the WRC or the Ugandan Red Cross, or both.
I frankly don’t want to investigate this any further because, based on the light chemistry I’ve written above, MMS does not, and cannot, work as described.