YouTube has cracked down on videos posted by crackpots and fringe figures who promote a host of “miracle cures,” including a holy elixir bleach peddled by a self-described archbishop from another galaxy, according to a report.
Jim Humble, a onetime gold prospector from Nevada, has used the video site to push the Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS, which he said “kills most of the disease of mankind.”
In fact, the concoction is nothing more than chlorine bleach — an industrial bleach that medical authorities have warned can cause vomiting and dehydration when consumed in high quantities, according to Business Insider.
In 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration said it had received multiple reports of people suffering “life-threatening low blood pressure” from dehydration after taking MMS.
Two people died, four suffered life-threatening conditions and one patient was classified as “disabled” after consuming the substance, according to the report.
Despite Humble’s claims in one video that MMS can cure an abscessed tooth, the FDA says it is unaware of any research suggesting its effectiveness in treating illnesses.
Some parents who believe MMS can “cure” their autistic children even give them MMS enemas, Business Insider reported, citing discussions in closed Facebook groups promoting the substance.
After being contacted by Business Insider, YouTube removed and videos and downranked some videos, but left others unchanged, the news outlet reported.
Humble and others who promote MMS all issued strong defenses of the substance when contacted by Business Insider, and claim it is not harmful.
On his website, Humble writes that he discovered MMS in 1996 while prospecting for gold in South America after leaving the Church of Scientology.
He said his substance is composed of three chemicals: sodium chlorite, ordinary household acid — even one as mild as orange juice — and DMSO, a “carrier” substance that helps MMS take effect.
Health authorities say that when sodium chlorite is mixed with an acid, it produces chlorine dioxide — a kind of industrial bleach used for stripping textiles.
In a statement to Business Insider, Humble denied asserting that MMS actually cures diseases.
“I want to clarify a very important point. Many people naturally say ‘MMS cures’ this or that. I’ve made this same statement myself from time to time in certain situations, when put on the spot, or when the words were put in my mouth, or as a matter of going with the flow of terminology that others use. In our speech and in our global society, we often blur the lines with words and their meanings,” he said.
“But for the record, I want to clarify here, MMS does not cure disease. MMS kills pathogens and destroys (oxidizes) poisons. When pathogens and poisons in the body are reduced or eliminated, then the body can function properly, and thereby heal. I often say ‘the body heals the body.’ MMS helps to line things up so the body can do just that.”
Business Insider discovered a network of hundreds of videos promoting MMS that were easily available on YouTube until last month.
When the news outlet alerted YouTube of the videos, most were removed, the channels hosting them were banned and the site said it had altered its search algorithms to avoid MMS content.
YouTube also noted that it does not proactively seek out content that violates its policies, but acts when content is flagged.
The site also has come under pressure recently for allowing anti-vaccination activists to spread messages on their platforms.
According to YouTube’s policies, “Content that aims to encourage dangerous or illegal activities that risk serious physical harm or death is not allowed.”
In a statement to Business Insider, YouTube said: “Misinformation is a difficult challenge and any misinformation on medical topics is especially concerning. We’ve taken a number of steps to address this including surfacing more authoritative content across our site for people searching for related topics on YouTube.
“However, our Community Guidelines prohibit content intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm, and we work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate these policies.”