Just in case you were in any doubt, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has spelled it out: please don't drink bleach. It will mess up your insides, and it's most certainly not a miracle cure.
If you're wondering why such a warning is even necessary, it all comes down to an alternative remedy that people purchase, mix at home, and ingest with the hope to cure various conditions - including autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and even the flu.
Various bad actors are pushing this so-called Miracle Mineral Solution or Master Mineral Solution (MMS) as a fix for a variety of ills on social media; it's been going on for a while, despite plenty of authoritative, scientific, informed advice that it's all a scam.
"The solution, when mixed, develops into a dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects," says the FDA.
The agency is continuing to track the sale of these MMS substances and will take "appropriate enforcement actions" against those who are pushing these products outside of FDA regulations.
The FDA reports that people who have been duped by MMS have experienced severe vomiting and diarrhea, blood pressure dropping to a life-threateningly low level, and even acute liver failure – not the sort of experiences you want to put yourself or your kids through.
There is no scientific evidence to back up the claims that these mixtures have any antimicrobial, antiviral or antibacterial properties, according to the FDA.
"Miracle Mineral Solution and similar products are not FDA-approved, and ingesting these products is the same as drinking bleach," says the FDA Acting Commissioner Ned Sharpless. "Consumers should not use these products, and parents should not give these products to their children for any reason."
What happens when these MMS concoctions are mixed as instructed, is that the sodium chlorite they contain gets activated by a citric acid like lemon or lime juice, turning it into a chlorine dioxide bleach. That stuff is really good at cleaning germs out of drinking water, but you have to remember that the dose makes the poison, and the MMS concentrations of bleach are highly damaging for the human body.
Advocates of MMS insist that these 'side effects' show the potion is 'working' – but that's simply not true. You're effectively drinking poison if you pour it down your throat.
While the dangers of drinking these sorts of mixtures might seem obvious to most of us, people continue to get hoodwinked. Governments have been issuing official warnings for years, but the message hasn't got completely through yet – the FDA itself published its first warning back in 2010.
If you do know someone who has ingested MMS or something similar, they need to seek medical assistance at the earliest opportunity. And if you want to know what something will or won't do to your body, take advice from the official, science-backed agencies.