Vietnam's victims of Agent Orange turn to Scientology for help - Asia - World - The Independent

Vietnam's victims of Agent Orange turn to Scientology for help

Controversial detox treatment offered free to families affected by US toxic dioxin

It's been offered as a veritable miracle cure to New York firemen whose health was wrecked while walking among the dust and debris of 9/11, thanks to personal funding from Tom Cruise.

Now a social welfare group backed by the Church of Scientology has opened its controversial detoxification programme to another group desperate to try anything to restore their wellbeing: Vietnam's four million victims of Agent Orange.

The Purification Rundown has been made available to residents of Hanoi whose lives are still affected by exposure to the toxic dioxin contained in the 75 million litres of the defoliant dropped by US forces during the Vietnam War.

The project is run by a Scientology offshoot, the Association for Better Living and Education, which aims to "rid the world" of "drugs, crime, illiteracy and immorality" through the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.

The clinical benefits of the treatment are contentious, to say the least. Yet with symptoms of exposure to Agent Orange including birth defects and cancer, dozens of applicants have decided the chance of free medical help cannot be passed up.

Dau Xuan Tuong, an official at the Vietnam Association of Agent Orange Victims, told Associated Press that 24 people were treated with using the so-called Hubbard Method at a military hospital in Hanoi for a month, after 22 were treated in the northern Thai Binh province last year.

"Their health has improved after the treatment, and some saw their chronic illnesses disappear," he said. However, Dau also admitted: "We need to do more scientific research to determine its impact."

This uncertainty has done little to put off would-be patients such as Nguyen Dai Sang. "I hope my wife and I will fully recover completely and will not suffer after-effects to pass on to my descendants," he told Viet Nam News.

According to the church the treatment involves "a carefully designed combination of exercise, vitamins, nutrition and sauna use which dislodges drug residues and other toxins from the fatty tissues so that these substances can then be eliminated from the body".

The Hubbard Method has been around for a some years, but it was the sight of Cruise holding his fist aloft in promotional photos for the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project in 2002 that brought it renewed attention – and claims that it was nothing but "quackery".

Dr Ronald Gots is among the toxicology experts to have dismissed the treatment, writing that "no recognised body of toxicologists, no department of occupational medicine, nor any governmental agencies endorse or recommend such treatment".

Yet the church maintains that "independent researchers acknowledge [the Hubbard Method] as the most effective detoxification program in existence".

The 9/11 project is equally emphatic in outlining the supposed dramatic – if rather stomach-churning – results for the firefighters that have come through its doors.

"Patients have had black paste coming out of their pores in the sauna," says its president on the official website. "Their sweat has stained towels purple, blue, orange, yellow and black. They have reported bowel movements that are blue, or green, or that have smelled like smoke."

The US began its first Agent Orange cleanup operation in Vietnam earlier this year, but a spokesman for the US Embassy said Washington would not consider backing the Scientology project. "We are not aware of any safe, effective detoxification treatment for people with dioxin in body tissues," he said.

The Church of Scientology did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week