Enter the time period “Miracle Mineral Answer” into the search bar on Amazon.com, and, certain sufficient, there’s a big selection of merchandise that on-line reviewers say treatment every thing from bronchial asthma to arthritis.
The issue is that the cure-all potion generally referred to as MMS is, in essence, industrial grade bleach. And promoting this poisonous and generally lethal chemical concoction as medication is against the law.
“It’s designed to kill micro organism, pathogens, germs,” stated Richard Parsons, a toxicologist at King’s Faculty London. “It’s going to do this to human tissue.”
One half sodium chlorite, a chemical disinfectant, and one half acid, MMS has been round for the reason that Nineties. It shot up in reputation in 2020 after former President Donald Trump floated disinfectant as a potential Covid therapy.
The concept was swiftly debunked, however present sellers seized on the worldwide consideration, catapulting a fringe operation into an enormous enterprise the place sellers on mainstream purchasing websites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay and Poshmark overtly hawk the stuff.
And a few sellers minted thousands and thousands: One of many largest was a church, the Genesis II Church of Well being and Therapeutic, run by a household whose rise and fall is the topic of “Smoke Screen: Deadly Cure,” a brand new podcast by Bloomberg, Neon Hum Media and Sony Music Leisure.
Amazon instructed Bloomberg that gross sales of MMS are prohibited.
“We’ve got proactive measures in place to stop this product from being offered, and we constantly monitor our retailer,” a spokesperson stated. “Those that violate our insurance policies are topic to motion together with potential elimination of their account.”
However a number of sellers stay on the location, beneath the guise of product descriptions like “chlorine dioxide equipment.” Different on-line retailers hawking variations of MMS, together with Etsy, eBay and Poshmark, eliminated listings after being contacted by Bloomberg News, citing violations of firm insurance policies.
However well being consultants say it’s solely a matter of time earlier than the merchandise pop up once more elsewhere on-line. Curbing gross sales of MMS has grow to be a recreation of whack-a-mole that the Meals and Drug Administration has performed for over a decade, warning retailers and customers of the compound’s risks with little outcomes.
A part of the rationale that gross sales of MMS are so exhausting to quash is that whereas promoting unproven remedies as medication is against the law, it’s completely authorized to purchase and promote the substances that make up MMS. Many MMS sellers keep away from working afoul of regulators by itemizing the stuff as water purification options quite than well being aids, even generally citing FDA warnings about consumption within the itemizing high quality print.
“They make use of frequent, on a regular basis issues that many people have in our properties,” stated Matt Motta, a professor of well being coverage on the Boston College Faculty of Public Well being.
One latest Etsy order got here in a precedence mail envelope with a pair of 2-ounce blue plastic bottles concerning the dimensions of travel-size shampoo containers. Directions referred to as for mixing sodium chlorite with hydrochloric acid, after which ready 30 seconds for the liquid to vary shade. The ensuing chemical response produced a strong bleaching agent within the type of an amber liquid with a pungent odor.
The pamphlet additionally got here with a warning: the product isn’t meant to treatment or stop any ailments. Although an accompanying package deal insert stated that MMS was a “game-changer” for serving to the physique detox and included a quote from MMS’s founding father, Jim Humble, concerning the capability of the concoction to destroy poisons within the physique. Humble later sought to distance himself from MMS, and stated it couldn’t treatment something.
The opposite power fueling gross sales of MMS is the advertising and marketing campaigns run by the sellers. MMS gross sales took off after Trump’s endorsement coincided with a pandemic that left extra folks remoted and people with well being issues looking for solutions.
In 2020, 4% of People reported consuming or gargling diluted bleach, in line with a CDC poll performed of about 500 on-line individuals.
The Grenons grew to become one of many best-known sellers of MMS, advertising and marketing the bleach answer by means of their church as a kind of non secular sacrament. After Trump’s preliminary bleach feedback, court documents show the household’s month-to-month gross sales of the product greater than tripled to about $120,000.
The household produced the bleaching agent out of their home and offered the answer through their web site. They printed a guide and launched a podcast, YouTube channel and a e-newsletter. Gross sales skyrocketed previous $1 million, in line with a federal indictment of the Grenons, which led to prison prices.
Their trial is scheduled for later this 12 months, however the Grenons proceed to tout MMS from their jail cells through the messaging app Telegram. In the meantime, a brand new array of salespeople have popped as much as peddle the damaging wonders of MMS together with Andreas Kalcker, who’s accused of selling a bleach-based Covid treatment that was concerned within the demise of a five-year-old boy in Argentina.
Although sellers might go to lengths to make their merchandise seem legit, it’s clear many shoppers are shopping for MMS as a result of they suppose it’s a cure-all. In on-line opinions, Amazon prospects cited MMS as an antidote for myriad medical makes use of, from detoxing to treating colon infections. One Etsy buyer reported utilizing it to assist their paralyzed canine.
“It is not that a lot of a stretch for somebody to say, ‘Nicely, one thing kills a virus on the floor. It might, in principle, kill it inside me,’” stated Motta. “If folks need to consider one thing is true, they may provide you with the argumentation essential to make it appear true to them.”
This story was initially featured on Fortune.com
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