Scientology Critical Information Directory

This site is best viewed using a highly standards-compliant browser

Scientology's Purification Rundown (Purif)

Succinct definition for the Purification Rundown from Martin Hunt's The ARS Acronym/Terminology FAQ v3.5:
A cleansing process, intended to remove drugs supposedly stored in body fat through running, taking megadoses of vitamins and minerals, and sweating in a sauna for hours every day. The Purif costs roughly $1,500, and takes about two weeks to do. There is no scientific evidence to back up the cult of Scientology's claims about the supposed benefits of the Purif.

The Purification Rundown is a core practice, based on Scientology tenets, in: Narconon, Criminon, Second Chance, New Life Detoxification Program, New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, BWell Clinic, Bio Cleansing Centers, American Detoxification Foundation, and possibly in Novus Medical Detox Center (through referral). Beware.

Other names for Scientology's "Purification Rundown": "Purif", "New Life Detoxification Program", "L. Ron Hubbard Sauna Detox", "Disintoxification" (in Second Chance Program), "Bio-Physical Method" [ref], etc.

The above definition dates from 1997, therefore the price mentioned might be out of date. There are various references for more recent price tag: $1,200 [ref] in 2004 (possibly the discounted price for lifetime members of the IAS, the not-discounted price was $1,500), $3,500 in 2005 [ref], $1,400 in 2006 [ref], or $5,000 in 2007. [ref] It appears the program is more expensive when offered in a secular setting.

When delivered as a "religious service," the Purification Rundown qualifies for charitable contribution deduction as seen in Scientology's own literature, which signifies that a portion of the price tag is a "donation" (the portion in excess of the real cost of delivering the service.)

Related: deceitful paper promoting Scientology's "Purification Rundown" by Dr. James Dahlgren.

Selected excerpts below, or consult the library for more materials regarding Scientology's “Purification Rundown.”

«The Purification Rundown is a Spiritual activity based on and administered according to the doctrine and practices of the religion of Scientology as set forth in the writings of L. Ron Hubbard and adopted by the Church. No part of the Rundown is intended as the diagnosis, prescription for, or treatment of any bodily or physical condition or ill.»

— The boards of directors of the Churches of Scientology, HCO Bulletin of 21 May 1980, Purification Rundown Case Data [here's another transcript, and here is the proof that the posted Purification Rundown Case Data is authentic.]

«It is the job of [public representatives ("PRs")] to make the Purif the thing to do to create a craze greater than jogging.

[Public relation ("PR")] backup to get media and media features on the Purif is essential. PR needs to create the image that the Purif is the 'in thing', the latest health fad and craze sweeping the world.

PRs needs to ally opinion leaders, professionals and government officials in the area of health so that they inspect and validate the Purification Rundown. With this type of backup PR makes the Purif the thing to do by popularizing it through media channels. [...]»

— Scientology's Social Coordination Committee (1982): "Briefing Purification Rundown / The vital role of PR" (PDF, 213KB)

«Large doses of niacin can cause liver damage, peptic ulcers, and skin rashes. Even normal doses can be associated with skin flushing. It can be prescribed as a treatment for elevated total cholesterol and other types of lipid disorders, but it should only be used with medical supervision due to its potential for severe side effects.»

"Medical Encyclopedia: Niacin" in Medline Plus

«[D]etoxification with mega-vitamins and other non-medical procedures that may be hazardous and in some cases lethal.»

— Dr. Forest S. Tennant, Jr. in "Outline for recovery, House Evaluation (Narconon New Life)"

New York Press (May 30, 2007): "The rundown on Scientology's Purification Rundown'" by John DeSio
[...] Taking niacin in such high amounts can be, to put it lightly, extremely hazardous to one’s health, according to Dr. Manoj K. Mittal, a fellow in Emergency Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In a case study that appeared in April’s edition of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, Mittal reported on two adults and two adolescents who suffered serious side effects from taking large amounts of niacin as a vitamin supplement. Both adult patients suffered skin irritation, while both adolescents had potentially fatal reactions to niacin—including liver toxicity and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) as well as nausea, vomiting and dizziness. One of the teens even experienced heart palpitations. All four patients recovered after treatment. [...]
Narconon Exposed: "Dangerous detoxification"
Vitamin "bombs" risk poisoning their users. The State of Oklahoma's examiners reported in 1991 that "The use of high amounts of vitamins and minerals in the amounts described administered by Narconon can be potentially dangerous to the patients of Narconon according to the more credible medical evidence ..." Many of the dosages set by Hubbard far exceed the recommended maximum intakes set by the United States Institute of Medicine's Food and Nutrition Board (FNB). Typically, Hubbard's dosages have not been amended for decades, despite the advance of medical and scientific knowledge; the Scientologists are required (by Hubbard's own instructions) not to alter his doctrines, even where they conflict with proven science. The Food and Nutrition Board is responsible for setting recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) and upper limits (ULs), the maximum level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects. In almost every single case, Hubbard recommends dosages well above the safe limits, in some cases as much as 142 times more than the toxic level. The side effects of such huge overdoses range from liver damage, hair loss, brain swelling and nausea up to fatal heart and respiratory failure. The following table shows the levels recommended by Hubbard and the FNB, and the proven consequences of dosages beyond the FNB's upper limits.

St. Petersburg Times (1999): "Store selling Scientology vitamin regimen raises concerns"

Robert E. Geary, an Ohio dentist and former Scientologist, underwent the treatment with his wife.

"She was in okay shape, but she wasn't an athlete. She was losing sleep and having hallucinations, and they were saying, "Oh, that's good,' " Geary said in a telephone interview.

Geary said his wife eventually suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized.


Several lawsuits have been filed against Scientology by families who blame purification programs for the death of a relative. In Portland, Ore., the parents of Christopher Arbuckle, 25, filed suit after he took a purification rundown course.

Arbuckle died after his liver failed. His parents settled out of court for an undisclosed amount and agreed not to discuss the case.

Barbara Graham (Jan. 2007): "Purification Rundown: Scientology's Secular Scam"

Programs such as Second Chance, for example; a version of Narconon targeting prison inmates.

Second Chance was pushed to legislators in the Four Corners states not too long ago.

In 2003, Nevada state representative Sharron Angle urged her fellow legislators to approve the Second Chance program in women's state prisons in that state. Along with others, I wrote each member of the legislature, urging them to take a hard look at this overpriced heapin' helping of Hubbardian nonsense.

The cult had sweetened the deal. An "anonymous humanitarian" from Arizona offered every member of Nevada's legislature a free trip to Ensenada, Baja Mexico, to view a Second Chance program there. The donor was revealed to be a Scientologist businessman, Randy Suggs. Curiously, Mr. Suggs' "Scientologists Online" website was removed just before his generous offer.

Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley recommended the offer be declined. It was, in part because these legislators did their job and researched the Second Chance program. Sharron Angle, who promoted the program, expressed her disappointment at the decision. Sharron Angle is a member of the National Foundation of Women Legislators, the NFWL, which was founded in 1938, well before Scientology was a glimmer in its founder's eye.

However, Scientologist Bruce Wiseman is the treasurer for the NFWL. He is also the president of Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, the CCHR, whose travelling roadshow, "Psychiatry: Industry of Death" has been collecting ridicule and derision wherever it sets up.

Joy Westrum, also a Scientologist, is on one of the NFWL boards. She is also the president of Second Chance. [...] "The Introduction to 'Clear Body, Clear Mind': Outrageous Nonsense by Two L. Ron Hubbard Toadies"

Clear Body, Clear Mind describes L. Ron Hubbard's "Purification Rundown", which is simultaneously marketed as a spiritual cleansing service by the Church of Scientology, and as a secular drug "detoxification" program by Scientology front groups such as Narconon and Criminon. The book has a companion Scientology web site,, where you can read the first chapter for free.

This web page reproduces (without permission, but within the parameters of "fair use") the Introduction to this book, in order to examine the outlandish claims made therein. For a more systematic examination of Scientology's fraudulent claims about the Purif, see Chris Owen's essay Hubbard's Junk Science, part of the web site.

The Introduction was written by Dr. David Root, MD, MPH, and James Barnes, both of whom are members of Narconon's advisory board. Both have ties to FASE, the Foundation for Advancements in Science and Education, another group that is alleged to have conducted an "independent" study of Narconon's effectiveness. (They can't possibly be independent, as they are a known Scientology front group.)

Miss X (1996): "My health was damaged by the Purification Rundown"

A couple of years later I learned that I had liver damage AND my cholesterol level was too high. I wish that I had consulted a doctor prior to starting the program. I would urge you to get an opinion from a physician BEFORE starting this program, ESPECIALLY since the people running it ARE NOT LICENSED PHYSICIANS, yet are making claims of being able to help you "feel better", "rid" the body of accumulated drugs and other toxins, etc.

Creed J. Pearson: Silenceology

A good friend of mine, Anna Korshe, developed uterus cancer on Hubbard’s purification rundown. Rather than allow her to go and get medical attention elsewhere she was told “what turns it on will turn it off” and was made to return to the sauna instead. She died.

Wikipedia: Purification Rundown

While on the program Scientologists are required to ingest the following at regular intervals:
  • Niacin, in doses large enough to cause skin irritation. Scientologists believe this skin irritation is caused by radiation leaving the body.
  • Oils, to replace the oils that are sweated out in the sauna.
  • "CalMag" a drink consisting of calcium, magnesium water and vinegar.
  • Plenty of water, salt and potassium, used to replace the fluids and minerals lost in the sauna.

In spite of its daunting nature and pseudoscientific methods, most Scientologists enjoy their purif. Many even chose to redo it after enough time has passed for them to believe that they have been "re-contaminated".

The Independent (Jan. 1994): "The Prisoners of Saint Hill" by Tim Kelsey and Mike Ricks

His concerns about the cult started before this, while he participated in a Scientology course called a "purification rundown" — during which members spend long periods in a sauna and take large quantities of vitamin pills. According to Dr Tylden, the massive quantity of pills, combined with the physical stress of spending long periods at high temperatures, could be fatal. "I found it very difficult," said Mr Matarandirotya. "There were some children doing the course when I did it. I saw at least two, the youngest around 10, and they were taking the vitamins, too."
Salt Lake Tribune (Nov. 2007): "Meth cops swear they can sweat off toxins" by Nate Carlisle and Lisa Rosetta
[...] Call is one of eight retired and current Utah police officers undergoing - at taxpayer expense - an Orem clinic's detoxification treatment, which is based on Scientology teachings.

Its medical director, Gerald H. Ross, acknowledges no studies have been conducted to show whether the program helps people exposed to meth.

Experts are skeptical. But Call and other officers are convinced the treatments work, and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff argues they are a worthwhile expense.

"They got sick helping protect us," Shurtleff said. "We don't want them to pay for it."

Shurtleff is paying a $50,000 grant to the Orem offices of Bio Cleansing Centers of America to treat the first eight officers, and has urged Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. to spend another $140,000 to treat another 20 officers. He and other advocates have launched a not-for-profit organization in Utah to raise funds to treat officers across the country.

"Yes, it's speculative," Ross said of the regimen. [...]

New York Post (Apr, 2007): "Don't be tricked by $ci-fi Tom-foolery" by Kyle Smith
LAST night another religious wack job came to attack Ground Zero: Tom bin Cruise.

The warden of the Katie Holmes Correctional Facility zoomed in to do a "benefit" for his Scientology group, the "New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project." Only Cruise would hold a benefit for himself.

Ground Zero crews are in for the Brooke Shields treatment: Cruise believes all ills are curable via the same Cartoon Network regimen of feeding people cooking oil and making them sweat. Cruise thinks he's the Toxic Avenger, but he's a petri dish of poison with a brilliant way to use 9/11 to line Scientology's pockets.

One: He gets covered by the celebu-press, not science writers. AP purred, in classic put-the-press-release-on-the-wire fashion, "Tom Cruise's latest effort isn't for the big screen. It's for the New York police, firefighters and paramedics of Sept. 11." (When did AP become Hello! magazine?) [...]

New York Post (Apr, 2007): "Mike [Bloomberg] thumps Tom [Cruise]: blasts city honor for Scientology's Sept. 11 'detox'" by David Seifman

Mayor Bloomberg yesterday blasted official proclamations drafted by a city councilman honoring Tom Cruise and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard for their roles in promoting a detoxification program for 9/11 rescue workers.

"I don't think it's appropriate to do that," said the mayor, reacting to a report in yesterday's Post. [...]

Fox News (Apr. 2007): "FDNY Hierarchy Furious With Tom Cruise Over Scientology Detox for 9/11 Workers" by Roger Friedman

Tom Cruise comes to New York on Thursday night, hoping to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Scientology. He’s doing it under the guise of a detox program for members of the New York Fire Department who participated in the 9/11 clean-up.

There’s only problem: No one from the hierarchy of the FDNY endorses this program. The people I’ve talked to are furious with Cruise, and want the rank and file of firemen in New York to stay away from it.

Indeed, what I’m hearing are stories of firemen who accepted free treatment, only to be swallowed into Scientology. And while tonight’s event is billed as a “fundraiser,” I’m also told that firemen and their families aren’t paying for their own tickets.

“The idea is just to get them in,” says a source. [...]

New York Post (Apr. 2007): "Tom's quackpot fe$t to hit city: Boosts Scientology's 9/11 'detox' clinic" by David Seifman

[...] But some experts questioned the program's effectiveness and warned it posed serious potential hazards.

"This is just hocus-pocus," Dr. Bob Hoffman of the New York City Poison Control Center told The Post in 2004. "For some people, sitting in a hot environment can be very dangerous."

A few years ago, program advocates posted a letter of support from Sen. Charles Schumer on the Internet.

But the senator's aides said yesterday that after doing some research they've backed off.

"We don't support the program," said Risa Heller, Schumer's spokeswoman.

The clinic follows the teachings of the late L. Ron Hubbard, a science-fiction writer who founded Scientology. [...]

Fox News (Apr. 2007): "Tom Cruise: Committing Career Suicide?" by Roger Friedman

Great scoop in The New York Post today: Tom Cruise is hosting a Scientology benefit on April 19 in New York for the group’s controversial detox program for 9/11 survivors.

But here’s a flash. I wrote this story on December 22, 2006: The New York Fire Department does not support the program, and there is much hostile feeling toward Cruise. The latest public endorsement of Scientology and its programs — decried by experts as pure "hooey" — may be the last nail in Cruise’s coffin. I will tell you about another one on Monday. [...]

Fox News (Dec. 22, 2006): "Tom Cruise can't put out these fires" by Roger Friedman

Tom Cruise — recently voted as creepier than ever in a Gallup poll, has lost a lot of fans. Chief among them: The New York Fire Department.

I’m told that the bad feeling toward Cruise stems from his attempt to bring Scientology into the department. His crusade began shortly after 9/11 and was briefly documented in the papers here.

The gist of it was that Cruise himself arrived and began to offer “detox programs” to firemen who had respiratory problems. The detoxing, he said, was developed by Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, a dead science fiction writer.

Of course, the real goal was to grab new members for Scientology. Apparently, the group had some success. According to my sources in the FDNY, several firefighters not only joined Scientology but left their families in the process.

“They told the firefighters that they’d been unhappy in their lives before 9/11 and that they should leave,” said a higher up in the department who spoke to me recently. “Cruise is responsible.” [...]

Critical Analysis of the Purification Rundown, by David Hogg, M.D.

Hubbard then claims that to "clean up" fat tissue in the body, it is necessary to replace the fat broken down by exercise with an external source of oil. He is wrong on several counts.

Firstly, the body contains none of the street drugs stored in body tissues as Hubbard claims. The only exception to this is the active ingredient of marijuana; it may be stored in fat cells for as long as one to two months before it is finally excreted. It is not, as Hubbard claims, stored for years. LSD crystals do not exist at all in the body. Thus the "drug residues" which Hubbard bases most of his program on, simply do not exist.

Secondly, in order to rid the body of these drugs and toxins, Hubbard proposes to break down body fat. In the short term, this would actually increase the toxicity of such substances as pesticides because they would be released into the bloodstream as fat is broken down. The only instance of this occurring is in several species of birds exposed to DDT during the summer. In the winter, as the birds used up their body fat due to the lack of food, many died due to DDT poisoning. Fortunately, the levels of such substances are not high enough in the human population to cause such an effect; nonetheless, Hubbard's method of "cleansing" is certainly not medically sound.

I.F. Magazine (1998): "Purification: Liver damage"

Jerry Whitfield, the former Church member with the damaged liver, blamed the Church for holding to Hubbard's outdated theories and ignoring new medical evidence on vitamin intake. "They ignored the potential for liver failure within the program," he. "I'm suffering the consequences of that."

Erlich and Whitfield are only two of many former Church members who have criticized the Church of Scientology and the "purification rundown." But many other ex-members will not talk publicly, because the litigious Church has made examples out of other critics by suing them.

Many news organizations also are hesitant to question the practices of the Church of Scientology, apparently for the same reason.