Urophagia, also known as urine therapy, is the technical name for drinking your own urine to improve your health. Now you might think that drinking urine is a very rare practice, especially here in the UK, but you may be surprised to hear it’s not as rare as you think. In a recent ‘bathroom habits’ survey carried out by Plumbworld (the ‘Bathroom Habits’ survey was sent to 28,000 previous Plumbworld customers and received 4,287 responses), we found that 3.8% of those who responded admitted to drinking their own urine on a regular basis as they believed it has health benefits. And that’s just here in the UK. It’s clearly a surprising figure, and although you may be able to discount some of them as joking, it really is something that does exist. Plus, how do we know what people are getting up to in private? We could have thousands of urine drinkers around the country!
It’s not a modern thing either, as the practice of Urophagia has been used since ancient times. In India, an ancient holistic healing system known as Ayurveda is said to help treat conditions such as asthma, allergies, indigestion, wrinkles and even cancer. This essay on Treelight.com claims that it does wonders for the skin. It also suggests that highly diluted ammonia present within urine could be responsible for the ‘cleaning and healing action’ However, there is no medical evidence that currently supports these claims
More recently in China, the China Urine Therapy Association has claimed more than 1,000 members. Although it’s not recognised by China’s Ministry of Health, the head of the association, Bao Yafu, claims that drinking and washing in urine cured his “constipation and canker sores” and “after six months his previously bald-head started sprouting hair again”.
Here in the UK, Bex Long and John Dixon appeared on the morning TV show ‘This Morning’ to demonstrate the act and claimed that drinking their own urine had “banished symptoms of depression as well as making their eyes brighter and their skin clearer”. But they aren’t the only people to come out and admit that they drink urine, as several famous urine drinkers exist in the world of sports and arts.
Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Marquez drinks his own urine when he’s training for his next fight. As you can see in the video above, he believes that it includes a lot of “proteins and vitamins” and we should “drink them again instead of wasting them”.
British actress Sarah Miles, known for her roles in films such as Blowup and Ryan’s Daughter, says that she drinks a small cup of urine every day since a Californian clinic cured all her allergies with it.
It was said that the reclusive literary author, J. D. Salinger, drank his own urine too, although the man himself never talked about it.
On a trip to the US, former Indian Prime Minister Morarji Desai told interviewer Barbara Walters in a TV interview that he would drink his own urine. He even said that urine could be a treatment for cataracts if you wash your eyes with it.
Finally, Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter Lyoto Machida revealed that he drinks his own urine too. He was told to try it by his father when he couldn’t get rid of a cough.
But is it safe?
While many may tout the health benefits of drinking urine, there is no actual scientific evidence that it has health benefits. Thus, urine therapy is very much in the alternative medicines category.
Some experts even believe that drinking your own urine could be detrimental in the long run. Urine is a waste product of your body, so what you are consuming is what your body does not need. Urine may be 95% water, but the other 5% is made up of excess minerals like sodium, potassium, and chloride. The fact that the body is expelling these minerals shows that the body has received more than it needs.
Helen Andrews, of the British Dietetic Association, told the Independent (as quoted in The Telegraph) that urine becomes more concentrated as it’s put back in and expelled again. Drinking this could damage the gut. In survival situations, the body will try and conserve as much water as possible, and drinking urine would be “like drinking seawater” as it would contain a lot of salts. The US Army Field Manual says much the same thing. Thus, drinking urine would make the body even more dehydrated.
However, urine produced on the first day of being cut off from fluid supplies “may be a useful source of fluid” as survival expert Bear Grylls has often demonstrated. Aron Ralston, a man who survived 127 hours with an arm trapped under a boulder, also drank urine to survive after rationing his water supply for a few days. If urine is to be drunk in a survival situation, io9 teaches us how to first filter it so only the water remains.
But filtering it would go against the ‘benefits’ that Urophagia practitioners drink it for. The key message here is that there is still zero scientific evidence to suggest that drinking urine is helpful to the body. However, drinking small portions as part of a healthy lifestyle in which water is also consumed throughout the day is unlikely to do any serious harm to your body over the long-term.
A source got in touch and provided us with some additional information about urine therapy.
“When we talk about the therapeutic and other effects of drinking one’s
own urine, we are talking usually about: 1) a rather small quantity
generally because it works in a similar way to biofeedback (maybe even
like homeopathy) so usually a cup and not pint… and 2) we are
talking about the midstream only. This means that you don’t collect
the “head” and “tail” of the stream, only the middle, due to the fact
that more impurities may be contained in the first and last parts of
the stream. I think that’s an important point which everyone agrees
AgamaYoga.com has a wealth of additional information in their article on the topic.
What about the taste?
So while the health benefits may be in question, there’s one thing that we can all agree on: the taste isn’t exactly nice. It definitely takes some getting used to!
Plumbworld.co.uk have decided to rectify this problem and help out the UK’s growing number of urine drinkers by putting together a set of recipes for some alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails that will help mask the taste of urine. It’s all tongue firmly in cheek, and we can’t promise that these combinations will be as tasty as a urine-free cocktail.
We’ve included some examples in this post. You can download the full ‘The Complete Urine Drinkers Cocktail Guide’ here.
Examples of urine cocktails
This classic sweet Puerto Rican cocktail can still be enjoyed without the rum thanks to its refreshing coconut and pineapple blend. Add urine for that tangy kick!
We’ve dedicated this one to Bear Grylls as we’ve all seen his consumption of urine on the TV. He also admitted that he enjoys a Pina Colada with the crew at the end of a ‘Man vs. Wild’ shoot.
- 50ml coconut juice
- 75ml pineapple juice
- 50ml fresh urine
- Fresh pineapple wedges
Mix with crushed ice, pour into a chilled glass garnished with pineapple wedges and serve.
While this South American drink derives its name from its base liquor, you can still get much of the lime flavour without adding the alcohol.
- 50ml fresh urine
- 75ml lime juice
- 25ml sugar syrup
- 1 dash bitter, such as Angostura
- ½ free-range egg white
Blend together until egg whites are frothy. Serve over ice. Add lime slices as an optional garnish.
Forget the whiskey, the mixture of urine and ginger beer will more than warm your stomach during a night by a roaring fire.
- 50ml ginger beer
- 50ml fresh urine
- 25ml maple syrup
How to make a Long Island Iced ‘Pee’ cocktail
We’ve also made a video to demonstrate how to make a Long Island Iced ‘Pee’ cocktail. Watch it below or click here.
Remember, the full ‘The Complete Urine Drinkers Cocktail Guide’ is available to download for free here. It contains 25 recipes.
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