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Vietnamese veterans put faith in Scientology 'detox' for Agent Orange ailments

Na Son Nguyen / AP

Patients sit in a sauna room at the Scientology Health Center of the Vietnam Association of Agent Orange Victims in Thai Binh, Vietnam. The center runs a 25-day health program which, as well as massive consumption of vitamins, includes four-hour sauna sessions and a morning run.

THAI BINH, Vietnam — North Vietnamese army veteran Nguyen Anh Quoc grimaces as he forces down the last of the 35 vitamins he takes each morning. After decades of suffering from illnesses he believes were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, he is putting his faith in a regime advocated by the Church of Scientology.

"I have to take them," the 62-year-old said at a treatment center established with the help of a Scientology-funded group. "They will clean up my body."

Na Son Nguyen / AP

Patients at the center take a dose of 35 vitamins early each morning.

The center, a converted mushroom farm in northern Vietnam, owes as much to Scientology's desire to expand around the world, away from scandal in the United States, as it does to pressure in Vietnam to try to help aging veterans still suffering from the effects of war.

Many medical experts regard the treatment — a 25-day vitamin and sauna regime — as junk medicine or even dangerous. But for now at least, it has found fertile ground here. Read the full story.

Previously on PhotoBlog: The legacy of Agent Orange

Na Son Nguyen / AP

Patients get their pulse and blood pressure checked by doctors at the center. While there is no medical evidence that the treatment is effective, Vietnamese authorities are supporting it as a way of relieving some of the suffering of the between 2 and 4 million people suffering from illnesses linked to exposure to Agent Orange during the war.

Na Son Nguyen / AP

A patient enters a sauna room.

Editor's note: Photos taken on March 18, 2013 and made available to NBC News today.