Image
© Unknown
Jim Humble
Meet Jim Humble, a "bishop" who reckons that he can cure the sick - by getting them to drink bleach.

For around £10 you can buy a bottle of Miracle Mineral Solution online. According to Humble's website, it has helped treat everything from malaria to cancer, HIV, baldness, Parkinson's disease, arthritis, tape worms and allergic reactions to cats.

There's just one snag, as the Food Standards Agency warns: "Miracle Mineral Solution is a 28% sodium chlorite solution which is equivalent to industrial-strength bleach."

The watchdog says it can cause severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and if the solution is diluted less than instructed, it could cause damage to the gut and red blood cells, potentially resulting in respiratory failure.

That warning came about after a campaign by a remarkable 15-year-old from Cardiff.
Rhys Morgan suffers from Crohn's disease, which attacks the gut, and found the "miracle" cure being plugged on a Crohn's disease online forum.

It was, he says, "pseudo-scientific nonsense" and authorities in other countries including the USA were urging sufferers to throw it away.

Image
© Unknown
Rhys Morgan
Wanting to alert the UK public to the danger, he told Cardiff City Council: "I feel that no-one wants to take responsibility to prevent injury to vulnerable people, desperately seeking a cure for their disease." You can find his blog here.

The council contacted the Food Standards Agency, which issued its warning.

Image
© Unknown
Beware: Miracle Mineral Solution
Jim Humble, a one-time gold prospector from Las Vegas, claims that his miracle solution has five million users worldwide and has saved 100,000 lives.

He's also decided that he's a bishop of his own church, saying: "I think that healing is a church thing and healing is what we do."

Humble hasn't replied to our questions, but in a barking online interview with the skeptical website Righteous Indignation he insisted that doctors who warn against drinking bleach are wrong and guilty of being narrow-minded.

"I've just been talking to several scientists and they just say 'we know bleach is bad for you' and I say 'will you please check it out' but they just know better."

As for the adverse reactions that can follow drinking bleach, he insists that's because it's working too well: "It kills the pathogens too fast, it dumps too much poison in the body."

Humble by name but not nature, he has stated categorically "MMS will cure cancer."

Mind you, he also claims to have repaired a lunar landing vehicle for one of the US moon missions.

It's tempting to dismiss him as a deluded joke but he's got powerful supporters, as Rhys Morgan discovered.

When the teenager raised his concerns on CrohnsForum.com, it wasn't the loons and snake oil salesmen promoting what he calls "dangerous, unqualified medical advice" who were barred from posting further comments.

It was Rhys, after complaints that he was being slanderous and that "judging peoples' choice of treatment is wrong". That's online mob rule for you.

Footnote: We have asked CrohnsForum if it wishes to respond and did get a reply, but it was entirely off the record, which makes it impossible for us to present its side of the story.

And here's our full chat with Rhys...

Mirror: First of all, could I ask if there have been any developments since the Food Standards Agency issued its warning about MMS?

Rhys: Yes there have. Trading Standards have been investigating many MMS sellers. This resulted in one website, MMS Health, being forcibly shut down so far, with more to follow.

Mirror: Are you planning to keep publicising this issue, or do you see this as your desired result and the end of your campaign?

Rhys: I plan to keep publicising the issue to keep raising awareness about it. I will keep going until every MMS seller is shut down.

Mirror: I'm very interested to learn what you feel this has taught you about alternative medicines and the internet.

Rhys: I've always been skeptical of alternative medicine. However, this has showed me how alternative medicine believers use the internet to push their beliefs on people. It's worrying, especially on support forums where there are vulnerable people who are more likely to try anything to treat/cure their condition.

Comment: Not all alternative medicines are harmful. One must be careful however and do their own research.

Mirror: Can you describe your reaction when you first heard about MMS and people saying that it might be a suitable treatment for Crohn's disease, and then how you felt when you learned more about this product?

Rhys: I was a little bit mystified by MMS when I first heard of it. I hadn't heard my doctors talk about it, so I was skeptical that it could be of any benefit. I then Googled Miracle Mineral Solution and came across the FDA warning. I was shocked when I read the warning.

Mirror: How did you feel about the fact that it was so obviously dangerous, yet so widely available over the internet? And, how did you feel about the fact that it was you who was banned from the Crohn's forum simply for issuing a valid warning, rather than supporters of this stuff?

Rhys: I was disgusted that someone would actually promote what is effectively industrial bleach as a cure all. When I discovered I was banned, at first I was a little bit taken aback. However, I wasn't too shocked as after being on the forum for a while, I'd begun to realise there were pro-alternative medicine undertones.

Mirror: Finally, what do you think about "Bishop" Jim Humble? Deliberate conman, or just misguided or deluded?

Rhys: I'm still not entirely convinced either way. I'm leaning towards deliberate conman, given that he's set up a church to try and avoid government rulings and things like that. He's certainly not stupid, which is why I'm leaning towards conman. However, he was interviewed by Michael Marshall and Hayley Stevens of Righteous Indignation, a skeptical podcast, in which he portrayed himself as an old man who didn't quite know why he was being criticised for promoting MMS. He came across as not understanding that he was selling a quack remedy.