[TW: Chlorine Dioxide/Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), “curist” approach to autism]
Making the body healthier makes the brain healthier.
There’s nothing controversial about this (I hope); the brain is an organ of the body, and, thus, that which improves the well-being of the system will improve the well-being of each part of the system. This is why people are so eager to catch up on their sleep before a major project or presentation or why teachers will always tell their students to eat breakfast on the day of a big test.
But sometimes, sensible generalities can turn into horrific realities.
This is what happened with the compounds known as Chlorine Dioxide and Miracle Mineral Solutions.
There are a few theories in existence that autism is influenced by non-neurological biological factors, one of the most common of such being the digestive system. In the case of Chlorine Dioxide and Miracle Mineral Solutions, the premise was that the digestive system of some individuals were riddled with parasites and undesirable digestive pathogens of various sorts, which leads to inflammation of the digestive system. This inflammation, in turns, affects several body systems, including the brain. Thus, it is theorized that removing these parasites from the digestive system would make the overall level of inflammation in the body go down, not only improving one’s neurological functioning but also, supporters claim, illnesses such as diabetes, malaria, chronic pain, and even cancer.
Now, inflammation is indeed thought to be a contributing factor of many disorders–a recent study suggests that inflammation may play a key role in GERD and similar gastrointestinal disorders, for example, and the role between cancer and inflammation has been underinvestigation for some time–and reducing inflammation may prevent or treat many common ailments. Many people are, in fact, plagued with conditions of the digestive system, some of which include parasites and other small creatures that should not be there (or a deficit of the small creatures that should be there), and this does negatively impact their mental functioning. Removing such creatures would, in fact, improve the cognition and behaviors of the afflicted individual.
But it wouldn’t “cure” a person of their autism or of any other neurological conditions.
In fact, it’s much debated whether this specific approach, as used by its most avid supporters, Kerri Rivera and Jim Humble, cures much of anything. Reducing inflammation and improving overall digestive health is good for the whole body, yes, but the use of these heavy chemicals to do so may be doing more harm than good.
In the case of autism, Kerri Rivera suggest that parents/caretakers administer the solution orally and through an enema (so, anally) several times a day over a period of a few months, usually mixed with citric acid. This is combined with the removal of gluten, casein (dairy), soy, antioxidants, and processed sugar from the diet. The child will, in theory, pass the parasites out of their system. As they do so, they will experience an increase in communication, focus, and other cognitive behaviors and a decrease in aggression and “self-injury, as is measured by a behavioral checklist known as the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC). This assessment is given several times throughout the treatment program; ideally, the score would get lower as the treatment went on (as is consistent with the stated aim of the checklist–to measure how one’s score changes over treatment). According to Rivera, this is very often the case, and at least 93 children as of 2013 have achieved an ATEC score of below 10, which would place the child as “recovered” from autism.
Which, if children are, indeed, seeing an improvement in their ability to communicate and a decrease in their aggressive or self-injuring behaviors, then this is a good thing, right?
Certainly. But it’s been speculated that any improvement–if any such testimonies claiming such aren’t faked outright–has little to do with the chlorine dioxide. For one, as mentioned above, healthier diets makes for healthier bodies and brains, and while the healthiness of removing gluten from the diet is debated, almost everyone can agree that the fewer processed sugars and other artificial, the better (although even the healthiness of Rivera’s exact dietary recommendations has been called into question). It is also noted that the checklist and the following of a protocol may cause parents to pay more attention to their child’s symptoms, which may cause them to interact with the child more carefully and eagerly, which, thus, may cause the child to respond in different ways.
And, heck, this whole protocol won’t be half bad if it boiled down to the chlorine dioxide part being merely ineffectual (the half where the child is told that their autism is a illness that must be cured, however, has the potential to be psychologically devastating. Target behaviors, not neurologies. But the diet and careful attention stuff? Not too shabby). It’s possible that many of my own health practices are ineffectual: is this apple cider vinegar in my mug actually helping my digestive system? I don’t know, but I feel better when I drink it, and, hey, it actually tastes pretty good with warm water and honey.
But this goes far beyond the placebo effect.
This goes as far as bone weakness and cardiovascular issues. This goes as far as children’s intestinal linings being ripped out. This goes as far as liver failure and kidney damage. This goes as far as the occasional death. (This doesn’t just happen with autistic children, by the way: there have been cases of deaths from adults attempting to prevent malaria and treat cancer).
A lot of this information comes from the website Ban CD/MMS, put together by several autism advocates and researchers. This website has a plethora of findings from medical professionals who observe that this protocol leeches sodium and other important minerals from the system and causes damage to multiple organs systems; it also has testimonies from those who have used the protocol and resources on how to stop others from using this protocol. The website also raises a few interesting points about the potentially problematic nature of framing symptoms common to those with autism as “problems” to be “medically treated.”
And it’s not just the people behind this one website that are advocating against this “solution.” There’s another blog, No More Bleach, whose entire aim is to spread awareness of the harmful effects of this protocol. Several other scientists, from chemist Dr. Kay Day to researcher Sarah Vaughter, have spoken out as well. Orac/Dr. David Gorski covered one mother’s account of her son’s declining health after using the protocol. The Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism also has a lot to say on the subject. BBC has covered the substance. The Food and Drug Administration has even spoken against the treatmentseveral times–and, yes, I do understand that people have their valid reasons for distrusting the FDA. Even other practitioners of “alternative” medicine, such as Jonathan Campbell, aren’t fond of MMS. There is a pretty strong agreement that this stuff is dangerous. Maybe not everyone who uses it will suffer (if the testimonials in support of MMS/CD are, in fact, true), but many do–enough to safely declare that the risks simply aren’t worth it.
Those behind CD/MMS started off on a decent premise–holistic health is not at all a bad concept–but they took it too far in the wrong direction. Removing inflammation from the body makes sense. Removing inflammation from the body in a manner that damages the stuff that isn’t pathogenic–to a genuinely harmful degree, from the looks of it, no matter how much they’ll try to tell you that the dosage of their protocol is “safe”–doesn’t make quite as much sense. If you’re looking for a Miracle, you’ll have to keep looking.
Again, a healthier diet will make a lot of symptoms a lot better for a lot of people. Diet won’t make an autistic person not autistic, though. Diet might make an autistic person an autistic person who can more easily focus, who has more energy, who can better access the mental processes to communicate, who can better interpret and regulate their own emotional and physical state, who can more easily attend to tasks at school and in the home, who, to use a word disliked by many but used by many more, “function” better. Diet might reduce certain undesirable behaviors and allow a person to allocate their energy on desirable behaviors. I highly recommend that all autistic people (and all non-autistic people, especially those who have any sort of health problems) find and maintain the diet that maximizes their happiness and healthiness. Throw in some exercise, too, while we’re at it (she says, scolding herself for dropping her exercise regime after about 2 months of running regularly back in 2015). Heck, drink some apple cider vinegar, if you can stomach the acid. Use coconut oil. Up your pecan intake. Whatever you do, stay away from heavy chemicals masked as “miracle cures.”
A proper diet and self-care program won’t “cure” autism, but it’ll make an autistic person a happier and healthier autistic person, and I say that this is what we should really be aiming for.