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Media Articles - 1990s

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Edmond Man Uses Scientology Techniques for "Purification"

By David Zizzo

Sunday Oklahoman
November 14, 1993

By day, veterinarian Larry Nieman can be found tending an injured terrier or visiting Edmond grade schools to warn kids to "be a tree, act like a log" to avoid bites from surly dogs.

But at home, Nieman and his wife might be leading people through a "purification rundown" involving the couple's sauna, some exercise, vitamin supplements and a dash of vegetable oil.

Nieman said the process promoted by the Church of Scientology and its founder, the late L. Ron Hubbard, is based on the same sweating approach used at the Narconon Chilocco New Life Center near Newkirk. He said the process, which he said Narconon uses to remove drugs and alcohol, can purge many toxic substances, even radiation poisoning, from fatty tissues.

"We're doing it for people who are interested in getting the spiritual benefits of getting drugs and toxins out of their bodies," Nieman said. "We're not trying to offer some kind of medical service. It is a religious process." Nieman launched his Edmond Pure Life Group last month. He said it is the only Larry Nieman place in Oklahoma offering Scientology's rundowns for people not hooked on drugs or alcohol.

"We don't handle people who are sick" and participants must get a physician's OK, he said. He prefers anyone wanting the service to have at least "some basic courses" in Scientology, so the uninitiated first are routed to Scientology's "Celebrity Centre" in Dallas.

Nieman said purification leaves participants feeling better, "they can think more clearly" and they can better absorb "the full benefits of spiritual processing" of Scientology.

So far, three people have paid the $1,500 price for Nieman's service, which takes about two weeks, he said.

The veterinarian said he learned the technique through 28 days of reading, listening to lectures and watching demonstrations at the Dallas center. It cost him $600 to earn the title of "purification rundown in charge" and another $600 for "purification rundown case supervisor," he said.

He pays about 10 percent of his proceeds to the Scientology

Critics of Scientology claim it is a dangerous and aggressive cult whose main purpose is to get bigger.

"One of the major goals of Scientology is dissemination" of its teachings, said a member of the Cult Awareness Network, who asked not to be identified since she is the target of numerous lawsuits filed by the organization.

Scientology and its affiliated organizations offer courses heavy in business management techniques, along with guidelines for everyday life. Nieman said those policies helped him restore order to his "all fouled up" life when he got involved with Scientology in 1989.

The organization recruits hard in the medical field, said Craig Branch, director of the southern region of the Watchman Fellowship, a Christian organization that monitors cults.

"They target a lot of dentists, veterinarians, podiatrists, most medical professionals," he said. "It's a heavy market for them." Norman optometrist Forrest Shed said he was among a group of about 40 medical professionals who went to Dallas six years ago for the "Sterling Program" for doctors. Sponsors introduced Scientology gradually at the seminar, he recalled.

"When you go there you don't know what Scientology is," he said.

"You never heard of it in your life. You slowly begin to find out.

They say, You might want to do this other thing too. '" But Shed said he was interested only in the seminar's "business technology" training, which he said "helped my office." The purification rundown has been found effective in flushing toxins like pesticides, narcotics or even cancer-causing PCBs from people's bodies, Nieman said. He said Hubbard's method also was used with success on some victims of radiation poisoning in the Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union.

A veterinarian in Dallas offers a variation of the process he says can flush toxins like dog dip and heartworm treatment from animals. Since most animals don't sweat, veterinarian Norman C. Ralston soaks them in concoctions of ozoneated water, sea salts and olive oil.

Nieman said his process "couldn't be done with animals" and he purifies only humans. He presents research papers that testify to effectiveness of the sweat purification.

However, all the research appears to have been conducted or sponsored by Scientologists or organizations reportedly affiliated with the organization.

Medical experts say many theories rejected by mainstream medicine contain a grain of truth around which such "alternative" treatments are based.

But studies published in mainstream medical journals show no clear indication sweating methods can help remove toxins, said Dr. Roy DeHart, director of occupational and environmental medicine for the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Some chemicals and radioactive isotopes are stored in fat and "mobilizing" them can help flush some of the substances from the body through sweat or urine, DeHart said. That's why large doses of beer have been used to obtain short-term benefits, he said.

But all this could be done through any exercise or consumption of diuretics, without any expensive spiritual tour guide. Anyone who spends several weeks taking saunas, controlling diet and exercising "would probably feel pretty ... good," DeHart said. "You don't need any magic to do that," he said.