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Precious Bodily Fluids: Scientology and the Purification Rundown

Steamed_clamsClaire Headley is taking us on our journey to train as Scientologists. She and her husband Marc were Sea Org workers who escaped from Scientology’s International Base in 2005. She spent years working with Scientology’s “tech,” and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. Go here to see the first part in this series.

After several weeks on the formidable PTS/SP course, we’re now moving on as Claire takes us into the sauna for a steaming. Claire, tell us about the “Purification Rundown.”

CLAIRE: I did the Purif when I was 14 at the Beverly Hills mission. The first part of it is studying the theory behind it. And the “EP” — end phenomena, or result of the course — is “freedom from the harmful lasting effects of drugs and toxins.”

The theory is that drugs and toxins stay in your system for many years after the fact, and that they are locked into your fatty tissue, and can release at any time, causing you to act irrationally. The materials cover the biochemical personality, and dependency on drugs.

Hubbard developed the Purif after Sea Org members on the yacht Apollo who had previously taken LSD were randomly tripping on the job, years after having taken drugs.

THE BUNKER: Sounds legit.


CLAIRE: This was also the reason LSD was later made a disqualification for Sea Org members (I believe that was implemented in 1979).

A key component of the Purif is the use of extended and high daily dosages of niacin and other vitamins and oils to release the drugs from one’s fatty tissue.

I don’t think it’s any new news that niacin causes flushing.

And certainly I was no stranger to the popular use of niacin in Scientology. I was first subjected to niacin dosing while I was in the cadet org. When the Chernobyl disaster hit, Scientologists in the UK started taking a formula created by Hubbard called Dianazene that was supposed to protect them from radiation, and again, niacin was a key component of that.

THE BUNKER: Sounds even more legit.

CLAIRE: I have a deathly reaction to niacin. A stomach ache so severe that I would have to lay down, with absolutely excruciating pain. So no, I was not particularly excited about doing the Purif. And all Scientologists do this, it’s one of the first steps on the processing-counselling-auditing side of the “Bridge to Total Freedom.”

Up_The_BridgeBack to the Purif. You are assigned a twin, basically a buddy for the duration. You are each responsible for getting the other through the program. The minimum attendance for the Purif is 5 hours each day. You do 30 minutes of exercise and the rest of the time is in the sauna.

You start off by taking 100 mg of niacin and proportionate servings of multiple other vitamins and minerals. You also drink cal-mag, a drink made of calcium powder, magnesium powder and apple cider vinegar.

Before you finish the program you will be up to 5000 mg of niacin.

The idea is that each day you are prescribed exact dosages of niacin and vitamins. You continue at that dosage until you no longer have any flushing or reactions. Then your dosage is increased bit by bit until you hit 5000 mg.

That’s a boat load of vitamins by the end of the program.

Such high dosages of niacin are highly unusual. I did a little bit of research and even 2000 mg is considered a pharmacological dosage. It seems to be controversial as to what the benefits might be.

Keep in mind, none of this is supervised by anyone with any form of medical training.

Personally, I felt better at first. Exercise and sauna at age 14 didn’t seem so bad.

I hadn’t taken any drugs. I did have flushing, including noticing old sunburns reappear.

However, by the end of the program two weeks later, I became violently ill. I was up all night throwing up vitamins.

This was then determined as an “overrun,” meaning I’d continued the program too long and was actually done.

THE BUNKER: Thank you, Claire. The purif is not only something every Scientologist goes through, it’s also central to the treatment at Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, which has increasingly been ensnared in controversy.

Nine years ago this week the San Francisco Chronicle began an epic series that challenged Narconon’s involvement in the city’s schools. Reporter Nanette Asimov (niece to the great science fiction author) lined up several physicians who each cast doubt on the claims of Hubbard for the purification rundown.

The doctors contacted by The Chronicle agreed that drug residue can remain in fat for a short time, but not indefinitely.

“The longest we know that THC (the active substance in marijuana) stays in the fat is about a month. For ecstasy and LSD, we’re talking about a day or two,” said Dr. Neal Benowitz , head of clinical pharmacology at UCSF.

Nor is there evidence that drugs in fat cause cravings or flashbacks, said Peter Banys, of San Francisco’s VA Medical Center. “You could also say that craving is caused by evil spirits, which cause you to do bad things and therefore it’s demonic possession. You couldn’t prove it wasn’t, and it seemed to make sense. But that’s the use of metaphor, not science.”

Banys said research shows that cravings are associated with dopamine, a neurotransmitter. And Cermak said flashbacks are thought to be prompted by “re-exposure to the drug-taking situation, or a reasonable facsimile (that) causes the brain to begin experiencing some of the same chemical changes that administering the drug itself produces.”

Drs. Benowitz, Banys and Cermak dismissed the idea that niacin and sauna can rid the body of drugs, as did Dr. David Smith of the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic and Dr. Igor Grant at UC San Diego.

Well, so much for the science behind the Great Scientist.

The price for the purification rundown, according to a 2001 price list: $3,872. And our total so far: $9,697


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 11, 2013 at 07:00

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