A look at the claim that chlorine dioxide only destroys "bad" bacteria while leaving "good" bacteria alone. See The Science of MMS (part 1) for background. The following was sent on along with the stuff posted there.
“Good” and “bad” bacteria
I contacted a friend who is a professional postdoctoral microbiologist so far more qualified on this sort of thing than I am. She says:
“I don't know to what degree this process can really be quantified in the human body, but the presence of any chlorine dioxide in the gut should, at the very least, kill off all the person's microbial flora and leave them at the mercy of whatever pathogenic bacteria turn up. This is especially a bad thing for young kids, as their gut flora is still getting established as a defensive structure anyway. That's one reason antibiotics aren't generally given to babies - internal flora gets destroyed.”
Just to be clear – what she means by “all the person’s microbial flora” is all types of microbes (not literally all microbes – if that happened I guess you could probably be very ill indeed). What she’s saying is that chlorine dioxide is indiscriminate. It’s not true that it kills the “bad” bacteria and leaves the “good” bacteria alone.
I’m certainly no microbiologist but I‘m pretty sure that you can’t generally define bacteria as “good” or “bad”. Bacteria can be harmless, helpful, necessary, pathogenic (disease causing) and often conditionally pathogenic – i.e. a part of the normal flora of the body (usually) but pathogenic in certain circumstances – e.g. Streptococcus lives up your nose all the time but can also cause all kinds of infection if it ends up in the wrong place or in the wrong amount. E. coli has a bad name but it’s only certain strains that can cause food poisoning, many other strains are a natural part of the gut. So the same bacteria can be both “good” and “bad” depending on the circumstances and/or the strain. The argument that chlorine dioxide, as an oxidant, picks off only “bad” bacteria is hard to accept in that context. It would have to be a very sophisticated oxidant indeed that could distinguish not only types of bacteria but also whether their current mode of action could be said to be a good or a bad one. Chlorine dioxide is not at all sophisticated – it’s a very basic molecule.
There seems to be a suggestion on some of the web forums I’ve seen (although I don’t know whether this is actually a claim made by Jim Humble) that “good” bacteria are aerobic and “bad” bacteria are anaerobic. The claim appears to be that, as chlorine dioxide is an “oxidant” it disrupts anaerobic bacteria by producing oxygen, which anaerobic bacteria cannot “breathe”. Again the good/bad bit isn’t really evident: Bordatella (whooping cough) is aerobic, Chlamydia is aerobic, C. botulinum (botulism) is anaerobic, the vast majority of the natural gut bacteria (flora) are anaerobic. Again, it doesn’t matter anyway because chlorine dioxide can kill them all.
Chlorine dioxide seems to react, as an oxidant, with the proteins, amino acids and RNA within cells. It can’t distinguish between human, “good”, “bad”, viral or bacterial amino acids or proteins because chemically speaking (as far as chlorine dioxide and its oxidizing action is concerned) there really isn’t one. It is capable of harming all cells (not just bacteria) and the bits the make up the cells. I’m sure there are some differences between exactly how badly it affects different cells depending on the detail of the protein or whatever and where the damage is done in the cell etc. - I’ve seen a suggestion that chlorine dioxide is less effective against rotavirus (“gastric flu”) and E. coli (which can be both “good” and “bad” as described above) than other organisms, for example. That’s not to say it still doesn’t kill them at all though, it just does so less efficiently, and is certainly not to say that it can “select” between “good” and “bad” bacteria, whatever they might be.
Gut flora are not just a few bacteria that happen to be hanging around. They constitute a whole, highly developed “ecosystem”, that some people have likened to an organ of the body in itself. Obviously drugs can be developed which are a bit more discriminating than chlorine dioxide, to try and target specific groups of pathogenic bacteria and protect gut flora during treatment – “narrow spectrum” antibiotics in particular. Most prescribed antibiotics, in normal circumstances are narrow spectrum, I believe, and they still can cause some side effects in the stomach because they can affect the gut flora. You could in theory engineer drugs specifically to target particular pathogens but that’s the realm of high level chemistry, bio-engineering and even genetic modification – i.e. highly complex. Chlorine dioxide is a very simple molecule with a very simple action (oxidation) that disrupts all cellular and microbial activity. This is obviously the reason it’s used industrially as a biocide. Beyond water and food treatment it’s also used to treat the (liquid) water in cooling towers in power stations. I would expect this is more to prevent the build up of any organic material that might clog up the pumps etc. than because of any public health concern. It kills all the bacteria in water – not just those that might be harmful to people.
So basically chlorine dioxide behaves like a completely indiscriminate antibiotic in the gut. The side effects of nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea etc. you can get as you increase the dose of MMS are consistent with this as they are the same side effects you can get with antibiotics. These symptoms of sickness aren’t a sign of any “detox”, they’re a sign that you’re disrupting your gut flora (and with chlorine dioxide, possibly the cells of your stomach lining themselves too). One potential effect then is, as with antibiotics, to disrupt your immune system (particularly in young children, where it’s not been fully developed) and leave you open to further infection.
In terms of its action at low doses, chlorine dioxide is more like a broad spectrum antibiotic than a narrow spectrum one. Broad spectrum antibiotics are typically used in serious situations where you don’t know what the pathogen is (e.g. meningitis) and where the benefits (i.e. potential survival) outweigh the downsides (i.e. potential disruption of all microbial activity in the body) – or in serious infections where there are lots of different pathogenic bacteria and you need to kill them all - and are not usually delivered orally but generally intravenously I think. I would hope that most doses of MMS are low enough to not disrupt anything too much. The point is, that even if there are any benefits to MMS, they are likely to be outweighed by the downsides. There’s certainly no need to take even a low dose of a broad spectrum antibiotic for a relatively mild infection.
An analogy might be spraying your entire garden with weed killer. Obviously, just because it’s called weed killer doesn’t mean it only kills weeds. What’s a “weed” anyway? Spraying would affect your whole garden, with the severity of the effect depending on how much weed killer you sprayed. If you carried on doing this every day, even with a small amount, it would likely have a fairly significant effect on your whole garden eventually. The places where plants (weeds or not) were killed would be open to accept whichever seeds happened to turn up next – a weed probably, or maybe something you actually wanted to grow there, if you were lucky - but you would be leaving that entirely to chance. The overall effect is likely to be a much less healthy and “weedier” garden.
It’s not a perfect analogy because your gut flora can act against pathogens themselves and weeds aren’t harmful to your garden (or yourself) necessarily, they just change the way you’d like it to look. The fact that gut flora can act against pathogens obviously doesn’t mean that you never get stomach bugs – just that your gut can often deal with them to some degree itself – I guess, because of this, there are many “bugs” you’ll never know you’ve had (thank you natural gut flora!). It would all be a bit like your garden being able to regulate weeds by itself, which it clearly can’t, but hopefully you see the point. I suppose you could argue that MMS might not affect “good” bacteria so much because the gut flora are quite effective at righting any imbalance themselves, but as far as I understand it that’s why antibiotics don’t do as much damage as, in theory, they otherwise could, and anyway, is a completely different argument than is used in the marketing of MMS. This is probably why MMS isn’t marketed for stomach upsets (even though most of the effect of it is probably in the gut). In stomach upsets your gut flora are obviously already disrupted to some degree. Using MMS would likely only disrupt them further, which would mean that you would feel worse and it would take you longer to get better.
I don’t know anywhere near enough biology to know to what extent chlorine dioxide will be transported around the rest of the body. I would imagine that at the level of dose we’re talking about it would be mostly used up in the gut but, if we give MMS the benefit of the doubt and assume these small amounts can end up anywhere, then there’s good reason to believe it would affect cold viruses, malaria protozoa, cancer cells, HIV retrovirus etc. – because it can affect absolutely everything in the body (which includes the cells of the body itself, not just flora) – but probably to a fairly small degree because everything’s (hopefully) only affected only to a small degree. Any effects at all on pathogens etc. would basically be “side-effects” of you harming pretty much everything in your body (i.e. poisoning yourself).
One significant area of drug research is “targeted delivery” – i.e. developing ways of getting the active ingredient in the drug right to the specific location (or to the pathogen) where it is required to act. All drugs will have more than one effect on probably more than one system, organ etc. within the body – some good, some bad, and hopefully many fewer and not particularly serious bad ones than good ones. The whole point of medicine is to make you generally better not generally worse and the point of targeted delivery is to maximise the desired effects and minimise the undesired ones. This is especially important with highly toxic drugs, like chemotherapy for example.
You probably couldn’t get a less targeted drug than MMS.