Dr. John Chelf
January 5, 1991
Dear Dr. Chelf,
I am writing to you at the request of Robert W. Lobsinger. He has asked me to comment on the "purification rundown" used by Narconon and other Scientologist run "clinics" (e.g. HealthMed and New Life Center).
As a member of the board of directors of The National Council Against Health Fraud and a diplomat of The American Board of Nutrition, I am an expert at separating fact from fraud in the nutrition field. I am familiar with the "Hubbard Method" of "detoxification" which is used at Scientologist run "clinics" and is described in L. Ron Hubbard's book, Clear Mind, Clear Body, and in David Steinman's book, Diet for a Poisoned Planet, which I recently reviewed (Current Diet Review, Nov. - Dec.1990). This "purification" program was created by L. Ron Hubbard's fertile imagination in the mid 1950's. It is part of the teachings of the Church of Scientology and lacks any credible scientific support.
This "purification" or "detoxification" program is claimed to help "clear" the mind of toxins such as drugs, pesticides and chemical pollutants. It consists of large doses of niacin, vegetable oil, exercise and "low temperature" saunas. According to the followers of L. Ron Hubbard, the large doses of niacin works by stimulating the release of fat into the blood stream and this is accompanied by various "toxins" trapped in the body's fatty tissues. According to science, large doses of niacin actually block the release of fat from fat cells. This has been observed both at rest [Acta Medica Scandinavia 1962, 172(suppl):641] and during exercise [D. Jenkins, Lancet 1965, 1307]. In other words, the scientific evidence shows that the exact opposite of what Hubbard's theory predicts. There is no credible support for claims that large doses of niacin clear toxins from the brain, fatty tissue or any other part of the body.
To make matters worse, large doses of niacin are hepatotoxic and can cause serious liver damage. It may also trigger gout, raise blood sugar into the diabetic range, cause itching, flushing and a rash. Nausea and gastritis are other side effects of large doses of niacin. To subject people to these potentially serious side effects on the pretense that they are being "detoxified", "cleared" or "purified" is quackery.
Health professionals who subject troubled people (many with psychiatric illnesses and/or severe emotional problems) to this unproven detoxification program are at best unethical and at worst guilty of health fraud. Since the Hubbard Method is clearly a religious ritual and is not a scientifically based procedure, it seems inappropriate for the state of Oklahoma to be involved in the licensing of an institution using this ritual. It would also be very inappropriate for any public funds to be used to pay for a religious ritual which is potentially harmful and of no proven benefit.
I hope these comments are helpful to you in assessing the true value of the "Hubbard Method" for detoxification.
James J. Kenney, Ph.D., R.D.
cc: Mrs. Dorothy Stanaslaus