After reading & commenting on that letter, which attributed health benefits to sodium chlorite, I found my interest had been piqued. Just what has been claimed for this chemical? So I went looking…
… & found, among other things, a webpage claiming all sorts of things for this ‘miracle mineral supplement’.
Apparently it’s not the sodium chlorite itself, but the chlorine dioxide that is produced from it in slightly acidic solution. The acetic acid in vinegar is supposedly ideal as an acidifier, act[ing] like a blasting cap by lowering the pH of the chlorine dioxide without setting it off. Then – you drink it! (Although in miniscule quantities – 6-15 drops in a glass of water… Not quite a homeopathic concentration, then.)
This is where things get interesting, from a chemical & biological point of view. When a chlorine dioxide ion contacts a harmful pathogen, it instantly rips up to five electrons from the pathogen, in what can be likened to a microscopic explosion… harmless to us, but terminal to pathogens. The pathogen – an electron donor – is rendered harmless due to the involuntary surrendering of its electrons to the chlorine dioxide – an electron acceptor – and the resulting release of energy. Oxidised by the chlorine ion, the former pathogen becomes a harmless salt.
Hmmm. "Pathogen" = ‘an agent that causes disease, especially a living microorganism such as a bacterium or fungus.’ Now, chloride dioxide gas is used in killing bacteria on food – but this is in relatively high concentrations & a far cry indeed from killing bacteria/fungi within the body. (The belief that it can be used in this way sounds similar to the belief that if colloidal silver in an ointment on your skin will kill bacteria, how much better it will be for you if you drink the stuff. At least with ClO2, I guess you’re not likely to turn blue…) But it’s not nice stuff: If you were to breathe air containing chlorine dioxide gas, you might experience irritation in your nose, throat, and lungs. If you were to eat or drink large amounts of chlorine dioxide or chlorite, you might experience irritation in the mouth, esophagus, or stomach.
Also – I really want to know – how would the ClO2 distinguish between a pathogen, & normal body cells? According to the site’s author, ‘toxic’ or ‘diseased’ body cells are more acidic than normal cells, & this underlies the ClO2 effect. A pity, then, that normal cells, happily respiring away, also acidify their surroundings as they release carbon dioxide – a necessary effect that triggers release of oxygen from the haemoglobin in circulating red blood cells (the Bohr effect), thus allowing the cells to continue respiring. Can the ‘miracle mineral supplement’ tell the difference here? And how does it get round the body, anyway?
Apparently by being picked up by the red blood cells, instead of oxygen… Red blood cells … do not differentiate between chlorine dioxide & oxygen. Therefore, [after you’ve drunk the sodium chlorite solution], red blood cells pick up chlorine dioxide ions that are deposited on the stomach wall where it normally gathers nutrients of various kinds before journeying through the body. Then, when the red blood cells armed with chlorine dioxide encounter parasites, fungi, or diseased cells that all have low pH and a positive ionic charge, the ‘aliens’ are destroyed along with the chlorine dioxide ion.
Hmm. Chlorine dioxide is certainly used as a sterilising agent for red blood cells. But in high enough quantities it can markedly reduce your blood’s ability to carry oxygen – hardly a Good Thing. Just as well, then, that the stuff isn’t all that likely to enter the bloodstream, given that it’s supposed to be taken in miniscule quantities & that the odds of it being picked up by red blood cells is vanishingly small. Far more likely that it will be consumed by some other redox reaction in the gut.(Oxygen saturation of haemoglobin is usually around 98%, so there isn’t much spare capacity there.)
And, of course, your body already has a perfectly good way of dealing with parasites, fungi, & so on – it’s called an immune system 🙂