Gulf War Illness

The U.S. Department of Defense has been conducting a study using Scientology’s Purification Rundown to try to determine if it can help Gulf War vets suffering from unexplained illnesses.

Amidst a maelstrom of controversy that aims to provide scientific evidence of efficacy, Scientology’s detoxification program is undergoing an independent third party scientific study. The study, funded by the U.S. government’s Department of Defense, is being conducted on Gulf War veterans in an effort to determine whether the touted benefits of the program will aid in recovery from the symptoms and effects related to Gulf War Syndrome.

The research is being conducted from Annapolis with an independent research team led by Chief Investigator David Carpenter, a professor of environmental health and the director of the Institute for Health & Environment at the University of Albany. His study strictly follows the protocol proposed by L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology who developed the program.

The prescribed protocol includes 30 minutes of cardio, which is followed up by two to three hours of sweating in a sauna. Individuals are on a rich dose of vitamins, such as niacin, during the program. Scientology churches dub this the Purification Rundown, or “Purif,” the detoxification exercise that uses these elements in order to rid the body of drug and toxin residues, which are eliminated through the skin. Scientologists see these toxins as something that hinders spiritual development, critics however, have focused on the lack of scientific data supporting such, hence the need for this study.

Up to now all literature on the program had been conducted by people within the Scientology community and dismissed by most doctors. However, this has not dampened the popularity of the program, especially amongst first responders and firefighters who say they have received substantial benefits to their wellbeing.

Gulf War Fighter Jets

Fighter jets flying over burning oil wells in Kuwait during the Gulf War.

90-percent of Gulf War vets in the experiment are experiencing relief from their symptoms. One of the participants, Kirk Moyer, has said “This whole program gave me my life back. I didn’t realize how bad I felt until I felt good again.”

The positive results of the program are what appear to have moved the U.S. government to invest in the research project after having already spent quite a huge sum over the years looking for the cause and treatment of Gulf War illness with no success. Gulf War illness affects many of the veterans who took part in the first Gulf War in 1991 and has a myriad of unexplained symptoms from fatigue, aches and respiratory symptoms to others like cardiovascular symptoms as well as cognitive dysfunction.

It has taken a while for the government and its health agencies to admit that this is not just a psychological condition but a real physical illness. Testimonials from the veterans currently in the study show they are experiencing positive outcomes making a case for the cause of the illness to be the exposure to many chemicals during the war. Even as the study continues, there are concerns as to its objectivity, but with over $633,677 of taxpayers’ money invested in the study, there is hope that it will offer illuminating facts on both the program and the illness.

The news of this study has been met with significant response by critics and so, there is great anticipation of the results. Will Scientology’s methodology finally be scientifically validated? If so, such would be a watershed moment for religion in general, as how many religions offer scientific proof of their efficacy? Both camps, critics and the Church itself, are deeply vested in an outcome that supports their respective stances though either way it turns out, the report will likely fail at swaying either party from their steadfast criticisms or beliefs, respectively.

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