Urine: Healthy option or just waste?
Despite many praises on its health benefits, experts warn that consumption is not only absurd, but could be harmful to your health.
Over the years, urine consumption has been a discussion among many. Some believe it is helpful in instances where there is no access to safe drinking water while others believe washing your face with urine could be a remedy for acne. Among this group are people who use urine as a medical remedy.
The act of drinking your own urine, better known as urophagia, has been a folk remedy for a very long time.
Ancient Romans, for example, believed urine is a form of mouth wash and they used it to cleanse their mouth and strengthen their teeth.
In Africa, some cultures believed urine therapy was the answer to a healthy life.
“It was believed gulping down the morning urine and applying some on the face was a good form of healing any scars and pimples visibly seen on the face,” says Peter Wambua, an elder from the Akamba community.
He adds that in the past, people thought since urine had many components that could be essential and also doubled up as nutrients that the body needed to survive.
“You could see some people drinking their own urine like a dose because they wanted to live a healthy life.
People using this as an option had to consider incorporating a strict diet that could help in achieving the desired results,” he says.
Surprisingly, in 1944, British Neuropath John Armstrong claimed that drinking urine was the ‘perfect medicine’.
He highlighted that drinking urine had a wide range of health benefits including healing wounds in the mouth, improving eyesight, replacing lost nutrients, boosting immune system, and supporting thyroid health.
For Mary (not her real name) her ‘skin care routine’ comprises urine. Although she shies away from talking about it, rubbing off the midstream morning urine has always worked out for her.
Having had problematic skin for a long time, Mary swears on urine, which she has been using for the last three years and wouldn’t want to trade it for anything else.
“I ended up saving more money and felt good about my skin. I never got to talk to anyone about it due to the stigma it comes with,” she recalls.
The hardest bit of adapting to this was the reminder to pee on a cotton swab.
“I would often forget to pee on something when I wake up, but with time I became a natural at it,” she says.
Henry Nge’the, chairman of Nutrition Association of Kenya, says there is no medical evidence that supports urine as an effective treatment of the diseases associated with drinking urine such as allergies and wounds.
“Urine is a waste, it contains things the body does not need or that might be harmful because of the bacteria.
Although sipping small amounts of urine could not cause immediate harm it is important to know that urine is made up of urea, which is a comprises of various harmful things,” he says.
He explains that despite urine therapy advocates point to the fact that urine contains vitamins, hormones, proteins and other constituents, which are accepted as beneficial, detectors say the body’s uses what it needs and eliminates what it does not, making it useless for one to go through the extra mile of consuming something that will eventually turn out to be dispensable.
According to the China Urine therapy Association, there are 100,000 urine drinking practitioners’ across the globe.
The advocates argue that drinking your own urine has a significant effect on chronic and incurable diseases.
Since such illnesses require a patient to take serious medication, they claim that this is a good option due to its affordability for patients who have lost confidence, patience and money in Western medication.
Their study shows urine does not contain any harmful microbes that could make you immediately sick like those that you might ingest from contaminated wilderness water or that which is transferred through faeces.
Therefore if you are perfectly healthy, drinking your own urine wouldn’t do you any harm considering the fact that urine is made up of 95 percent water.
However, Nge’the says the fact that urine therapy advocates have warned against excessive urine consumptions should be a red flag on its own.
“The Chinese Association of urine therapy warned that drinking urine has negative side effects such as diarrhoea, fatigue, fever, muscle soreness, which increase with the amount ingested,” he explains.
He notes there are so many ways of restoring those elements found in urine which are more safe, delicious and can be found in food such as bone broth and mineral salts.
Shadrack Kyove, a psychologist says, the motive of drinking urine as a form of treatment could be as a result of having being brainwashed on the health benefits of it.
“While it might be hard to understand the reason as to why some people choose to indulge in this practice on a day to day basis, it is even more difficult having to understand the reason behind having a sip of your urine as the first thing you take,” he explains.
Despite this being a conversation considered disgusting by many, it raises questions on the psychological aspect, on what a person understands about certain foods.