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Biologically based alternative
and complementary therapy
- edit
NCCAM classifications
  1. Alternative Medical Systems
  2. Mind-Body Intervention
  3. Biologically Based Therapy
  4. Manipulative Methods
  5. Energy Therapy
See also

In alternative medicine, the term urine therapy (also urotherapy, urinotherapy or uropathy) refers to various applications of human urine for medicinal or cosmetic purposes, including drinking of one's own urine and massaging one's skin with one's own urine. There is no known scientific evidence of a therapeutic use for urine.[1][2][3][4][5] A chemical component of urine, urea, does have some well known commercial and other uses.

Contents

History

Some of the earliest human cultures used urine as a medicine.

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Rome

In Roman times, there was a tradition among the Gauls to use urine to whiten teeth. A famous poem by the Roman poet Catullus, criticizing a Gaul named Egnatius, reads:[6][7]

Egnatius, because he has snow-white teeth, / smiles all the time. If you're a defendant / in court, when the counsel draws tears, / he smiles: if you're in grief at the pyre / of pious sons, the lone lorn mother weeping, / he smiles. Whatever it is, wherever it is, / whatever he's doing, he smiles: he's got a disease, / neither polite, I would say, nor charming. / So a reminder to you, from me, good Egnatius./ If you were a Sabine or Tiburtine / or a fat Umbrian, or plump Etruscan, / or dark toothy Lanuvian, or from north of the Po, / and I'll mention my own Veronese too, / or whoever else clean their teeth religiously, / I’d still not want you to smile all the time: / there’s nothing more foolish than foolishly smiling. / Now you’re Spanish: in the country of Spain / what each man pisses, he’s used to brushing / his teeth and red gums with, every morning, / so the fact that your teeth are so polished / just shows you’re the more full of piss./

India

A religious Sanskrit text called the Damar Tantra contains 107 stanzas on the benefits of "pure water, or one's own urine".[8] In this text, urine therapy is referred to as Sivambu Kalpa,[8]. This ancient Indian text suggests, among other uses and prescriptions, massaging one's skin with aged, concentrated urine. In the Indian ayurvedic tradition, urine therapy may be called amaroli.

Religious

Biblical reference

Some advocates believe that the Bible recommends urine therapy. A verse in Proverbs advises: "Drink waters from thy own cistern, flowing water from thy own well."[9] However, subsequent verses deal with warnings against adultery, commanding the husband to stay with his wife and not pursue other women, hence a likely interpretation of this verse is that of a literary device or analogy.

Islam

In Sunni Islam, the Sahih Bukhari, which forms one of the six major Hadith collections quotes the Prophet Muhammad advocating drinking camel's urine as a medicine in several verses.[10][11][12]

Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 71, Number 590:

Narrated Anas: The climate of Medina did not suit some people, so the Prophet ordered them to follow his shepherd, i.e. his camels, and drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they followed the shepherd that is the camels and drank their milk and urine till their bodies became healthy. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels. When the news reached the Prophet, he sent some people in their pursuit. When they were brought, he cut their hands and feet and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron.[10]

Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 82, Number 794:

Narrated Anas: Some people from the tribe of 'Ukl came to the Prophet and embraced Islam. The climate of Medina did not suit them, so the Prophet ordered them to go to the (herd of milch) camels of charity and to drink, their milk and urine (as a medicine). They did so, and after they had recovered from their ailment (became healthy) they turned renegades (reverted from Islam) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away. The Prophet sent (some people) in their pursuit and so they were (caught and) brought, and the Prophets ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and that their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterized, till they die..[13][14]

Although it is recorded in the Bukhari that Prophet Muhammad advocated drinking camel urine as a medicine to his followers, and did not describe it as dirty or demeaning, later commentators find urine to be something that is "filth in an extreme degree" without denouncing it's alleged medicinal properties.[14] Abū Ḥanīfa said that it's disliked, but not forbidden, to drink the urine from camels.[14] Abu Yusuf said that urine from camels can be consumed for medicinal purposes.[14]

Other cultures

In China, the urine of young boys has been regarded as a curative. In southern China, babies' faces are washed with urine to protect the skin.

The French customarily soaked stockings in urine and wrapped them around their necks in order to cure strep throat. Aristocratic French women in the 17th century reportedly bathed in urine to beautify their skin.

In Sierra Madre, Mexico, farmers prepare poultices for broken bones by having a child urinate into a bowl of powdered charred corn. The mixture is made into a paste and applied to the skin.[15]

As in ancient Rome, urine was used for teeth-whitening during the Renaissance, though they did not necessarily consume their own urine.

John Henry Clarke

The homeopath John Henry Clarke wrote, "…man who, for a skin affection, drank in the morning the urine he had passed the night before. The symptoms were severe, consisting of general-dropsy, scanty urine, and excessive weakness. These symptoms I have arranged under Urinum. Urinotherapy is practically as old as man himself. The Chinese (Therapist, x. 329) treat wounds by sprinkling urine on them, and the custom is widespread in the Far East. Taken internally, it is believed to stimulate the circulation".[16]

Modern claims and findings

Urine's main constituents are water and urea; the latter of which has some well-known commercial and other uses. Urine also contains small quantities of thousands of compounds, hormones and metabolites,[5][17] including corticosteroids.[18] There is no scientific evidence of a therapeutic use for urine.[1][2][3][4][5]

It has been claimed that urine is similar to other body fluids, like amniotic fluid or even blood, but these claims have no scientific basis.[4]

Urinating on jellyfish stings is a common folk remedy, but has no beneficial effect and may be counterproductive, as it can activate nematocysts remaining at the site of the sting.

People who use Amanita muscaria as an intoxicating drug will sometimes drink their own urine in order to prolong its effects, especially when there were shortages of the fungus.[19]

Urine does contain substances that are beneficial, such as Vitamin C; however, these substances have been excreted because they could not be used or because they were present in excess, so re-taking them will just result in re-excretion.[4]

The most obvious physiological effect of drinking urine, at least when it is taken on an empty stomach, is bowel movement (sometimes in the form of diarrhea) due to the laxative action of hypertonic solution of urea.

Use as anti-cancer agent

Urine and urea have been claimed by some practitioners to have an anti-cancer effect. It has been hypothesized that because some cancer cell antigens are transferred through urine, through "oral autourotherapy" these antigens could be introduced to the immune system that might then create antibodies.[20] However, the American Cancer Society's position is that scientific evidence does not support individual claims that urine or urea given in any form is helpful for cancer patients, and that the safety of urine therapy has not been confirmed by scientific studies.[21]

Public figures

In 1978, the former Prime Minister of India, Morarji Desai, a longtime practitioner of urine therapy, spoke to Dan Rather on 60 Minutes about urine therapy. Desai stated that urine therapy was the perfect medical solution for the millions of Indians who cannot afford medical treatment.

Cameroon's Health Minister Urbain Olanguena Awono warned people against drinking their own urine, believed in some circles to be a tonic and cure for a number of ailments. "Given the risks of toxicity associated with ingesting urine", he wrote, "the health ministry advises against the consumption of urine and invites those who promote the practice to cease doing so or risk prosecution."[22]

Among other modern celebrities, the British actress Sarah Miles has drunk her own urine for over thirty years, in claiming the belief that it immunizes against allergies, amongst other health benefits.[23] Major League Baseball player Moisés Alou urinates on his hands to alleviate calluses, which he claims allows him to bat without using batting gloves.[24] Madonna explained to talk show host David Letterman that she urinates on her own feet to help cure her athlete's foot problem.[25]

Mixed martial arts superstar Lyoto Machida revealed in an interview that he drinks his own urine.[26] MMA fighter Luke Cummo has been a long-time advocate of the practice.

Urine therapy was used as a plot line in the fifth-season episode "Crow's feet" of the popular television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Author J.D. Salinger is also said to have been an adherent.[27]

Auto-urine drinking and meditation

One of the less far-fetched and more physiologically and even historically sound claims is that drinking one's morning urine ('amaroli') was an ancient yoga practise designed to promote meditation. The ancient Hindu and yoga texts that mention auto-urine drinking, require it be done before sunrise and that only the mid-stream sample be used.[28] Although compliance with social mores may be one obvious reason for this nocturnal ingestion, the pineal hormone melatonin and its conjugated esters are present in morning urine in significant quantities, the pineal gland secreting melatonin maximally at about 2 am, this secretion being shut off by the eyes' exposure to bright sunlight.[28] Melatonin, when ingested or given intravenously, amongst other effects, provokes tranquility and heightened visualisation.[28] There are high concentrations of melatonin in the first morning urine, but not in a physiologically active form.[28] Mills and Faunce at Newcastle University Australia in 1991 developed the hypothesis that ingestion of morning urine into low pH gastric acid would cause deconjugation of its esters back to the active form of melatonin. This, they suggested, might restore plasma night-time melatonin levels. Thus, they argued, oral pre-dawn consumption of auto-exogenous melatonin, by either re-setting of the sleep-wake cycle or enhancement of the physiological prerequisites for meditation (decreased body awareness (i.e. analgesia) and claimed slowed brain wave activity, as well as heightened visualization ability), may be the mechanism behind the alleged benefits ascribed to 'amaroli' or auto-urine drinking by ancient texts of the yogic religion.[28] Obvious experimental difficulties (particularly in constructing a double-blind clinical trial) mean that this is a difficult hypothesis to reliably test to any requisite evidence-based standard.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Christopher Middleton (2003-02-24). "A wee drop of amber nectar". The Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2003/02/24/hhel24.xml. 
  2. ^ a b Gardner, Martin (2001). Did Adam and Eve Have Navels?: Debunking Pseudoscience. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. pp. 92–101. ISBN 0-393-32238-6. 
  3. ^ a b "Taking The Piss: Is urine drinking a good idea?". Correx archives. http://www.abc.net.au/science/correx/archives/piss.htm. 
  4. ^ a b c d Robert Todd Carroll (2003). The skeptic's dictionary: a collection of strange beliefs, amusing deceptions, and dangerous delusions (illustrated ed.). John Wiley and Sons. pp. 391–394. ISBN 0471272426, 9780471272427. http://books.google.com/books?id=6FPqDFx40vYC&pg=PA391&dq=urine+drinking+therapeutic. 
  5. ^ a b c Urine Therapy, Jeff Lowe
  6. ^ Your Teeth!, to Egnatius, poem by Catullus
  7. ^ Aspects of Catullus' Social Fiction. Christopher Nappa, Frankfurt-am-Main: Peter Lang, 2001. Pp. 180. ISBN 3-631-37808-4. SFr.56.00.
  8. ^ a b Joseph S. Alter. Yoga in Modern India. Princeton University Press. pp. 144. 
  9. ^ The Independent:"Urine: The body's own health drink?"
  10. ^ a b Sahih Bukhari 7:71:590
  11. ^ Sahih Bukhari 8:82:796
  12. ^ CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY: Interesting quotes from the Hadith about Muhammad
  13. ^ Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 82, Number 797
  14. ^ a b c d John Alden Williams (1994). The Word of Islam. University of Texas Press. p. 58, 98, 103. ISBN 0292790767, 9780292790766. http://books.google.com/books?id=cbaZiqERLEQC&pg=PA103&vq=urine&dq=islam+urine+prohibition. 
  15. ^ Urine therapy, Martin Gardner, Skeptical Inquirer, May-June 1999.
  16. ^ A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, John Henry Clarke, London: Homoeopathic Pub. Co., 1900–1902.
  17. ^ Clinical value of 24-hour urine hormone evaluations, Alan Broughton, Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, January 2004.
  18. ^ An Investigation into the Determination of Corticosteroids in Urine. I. The Determination of Corticosterone-like Substances, S. L. Tompsett, Journal of Clinical Pathology 6 (#1, February 1953), pp. 74–77. PMID 13034924.
  19. ^ Charles Julius Hempel (1859). A new and comprehensive system of materia medica and therapeutics: arranged upon a physiologico-pathological basis for the use of practitioners and students of medicine. W. Radde. p. 1100. http://books.google.com/books?id=d4ZNAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA1100&dq=urine+drinking+therapeutic. 
  20. ^ Urotherapy for patients with cancer Article regarding "oral autourotherapy" published in the unconventional journal Medical Hypotheses
  21. ^ Urotherapy, fact sheet at the American Cancer Society.
  22. ^ Cameroon threatens to jail urine drinkers, Jane Flanagan, Daily Telegraph, on line, article dated March 15, 2003.
  23. ^ 'I can't wait to get off this planet', interview with Sarah Miles in The Independent, September 2007
  24. ^ ESPN.com: Page 2 : Pee is only a wee bit gross
  25. ^ The Straight Dope
  26. ^ http://tatame.com.br/2009/03/21/O-segredo-do-sucesso-de-Lyoto-Machida
  27. ^ The Independent: Urine: The body's own health drink?
  28. ^ a b c d e Mills MH and Faunce TA Melatonin supplementation from early morning auto-urine drinking.Mills MH, Faunce TA.Medical Hypotheses. 1991 Nov;36(3):195-9

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