Wealthy French women bathed in it, Chinese doctors used it to soothe sore throats, and now you - all squeamishness aside - can drink it to cure what ails you.
Swami Vivekananda’s first book, Damaru Tantra, published in April 2009, is a translation and commentary of the ancient text describing the benefits of urine therapy for therapeutic as well as spiritual results.
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Odds are you're among the 27 million Americans who recycle. Separating bottles, cans, plastic containers, newspapers, maybe even composting your kitchen and garden scraps, are just a few of the ways you can show respect for your earthly home. But would you be willing to take the act of recycling a step further and internally honor your bodily home, if it meant you'd have more energy, a stronger immune system, and an ageless complexion? Of course you would. Well, what if I said you can have all this and more for the mere cost of - a cupful of urine? A little hard to swallow? Well, it's true. It's urine therapy (UT), and all it takes is eight ounces a day and an unwavering pledge to throw out some of the distaste you associate with the human filtering system.
That's what I did, and now, four years later, I'm a different person. I'm more in tune with my body's needs and functions, and no longer anemic or hypoglycemic. I rarely get colds, haven't had the flu in years, and the yeast infection that had long been plaguing me is gone. UT has even heightened my connection to my daily yoga practice. I now feel as healthy and strong as my headstand.
Even so, I admit that the road to health involved more than a few dead ends. I initially heard about urine therapy when I was living in Japan. I was interviewing Dr. Ryosuku Uryu, a respected naturopath, for an article in a Tokyo magazine. The interview proceeded just fine until he mentioned "pee drinking."
I laughed, and he launched into an earnest monologue on the virtues of urine therapy. Weeks later, still haunted by his heartfelt narrative of personal and clinical success, I decided to give urine a more serious look. At Dr. Uryu's counsel, I began the therapy gradually, rubbing my urine on my face at night (I refused to use it in the morning because I was terrified people would smell me on the trains), until I'd worked up enough courage to actually drink it. I can still remember the effort it took not to throw up that first morning. Believe me, it was all downstream from there.
If you got rid of it, why put it back?
Contrary to what we learn in biology, urine isn't a dirty byproduct of intestinal work. Instead, it's a highly usable, sterile fluid that comes from the kidneys. The main function of the kidneys is to balance and filter the blood. Urine, the kidneys' byproduct, is made from life-sustaining ingredients, like vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and amino acids - estimated to be thousands of compounds in all. For example, urine, also the primary component of amniotic fluid, contains DHEA (the wonder steroid heralded with antiaging and anticancer properties), allantoin (added to creams and ointments to promote wound healing), factor S (used to naturally induce sleep), gastric secretary depressants (which combat ulcer growth), urokinase (an enzyme known to dissolve blood clots), and, of course, urea (a key constituent in many antibacterial substances). Some scientists even suggest that uric acid, the most touted property of urine, may be an instrumental ingredient that allows humans to live longer than most other mammals.
While this culture continues to call it pee, piss, wee-wee, tinkle, and number one, there are others who speak more poetically of urine, calling it, among other things, the soma beverage, the mother of medicine, the water of life, living water within, life elixir, the water of Shiva, and the water of a thousand flowers. Whatever its name, this drugless self-remedy appears in all the ancient religious and medical texts of recorded history - the earliest of which is attributed to the 5,000-year-old vedic text known as the Damar Tantra.
"Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well," proclaims a proverb from the Old Testament. "The soma beverage is a universal remedy," declares the Atharva Veda. Hippocrates taught people to support their body's intrinsic defenses and to try natural interventions, such as urine, before resorting to stronger measures. The Romans, according the historian Suetonius, valued urine so much that the emperor placed a tax on every drop collected from public reservoirs. Wealthy French women bathed in it, and Chinese doctors used it to soothe sore throats. And, in the 19th century, French chemist Fourcroy devoted an entire volume to the properties of human urine, because, in his words, the "urine of man ... has furnished the most singular discoveries to chemistry ... as well as to the art of healing."
UT even managed to sneak into American lore. In 1810, for example, a Dr. Richard Hazeltine wrote of a proven healing agent used by "affectionate" mothers (as well as himself) called a "buttered flip" - a mixture of recent urine, hot water, honey, and a little butter. In addition, there are isolated stories of Native Americans using it, and tales of European and African-American grandmothers massaging it into their skin to stay beautiful. More recently, TV archived the benefits of urine therapy in 1978 when India's former prime minister Moraii Desai told a shocked Dan Rather and his 60 Minutes viewing audience of the remarkable effects of drinking urine, going so far as to say UT was the perfect way to help the millions of Indians unable to afford medical care.
Whose urine is it anyway?
Unequivocally the most primitive and primordial form of internal medicine, urine was isolated as a healing agent around 1773. UT has since been supported by dozens of successful research trials. According to Martha Christy, author of Your Own Perfect Medicine, urine is highly respected by mainstream medical scientists and researchers, even if the general public isn't aware of its benefits. To see for yourself, check out the list of ingredients in face creams, shampoos, antibacterial ointments, sleeping medicines, diuretics, estrogen supplements, and other grooming products and over-the-counter medications on the shelves today. You will find many of the components of urine listed there.
Although I like to avoid conspiracy theories, it's hard not to wonder why so few people know about urine therapy. Could it be there's no money to be made from it? Christy reports that the bulk of the scientific research on UT has been financed by the pharmaceutical industry "with the hope of isolating substances for specific cures so they can be produced artificially and marketed as a new product." The Ares-Serono Group, one of the world's largest fertility-drug companies, produces the fertility hormone drug Pergonal from the urine of post-menopausal women in Italy, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina. In 1992 the company reported earnings of $855 million, and women pay up to $1,400 per month for this urine extract. The U.S. company Enzymes of America uses a special filter to collect the proteins from men's urinals in the 10,000 portable outhouses owned by its subsidiary firm, Porta-John. They've turned their collections into a pricey heart attack medicine called Urokinase.
Yet, even supposing money and patents weren't an issue, a manufactured substance is no match for what comes out of your own body. No matter what companies claim, no synthetic works as well as your own urine: You and only you produce the natural vaccines, anticancer agents, hormone balancers, and allergy relievers in the exact forms you need. Furthermore, milligram per milligram, urine is a better supplement to your diet than vitamins, because the vitamins in urine have already been digested and synthesized. Besides, your own urine won't produce any lasting side effects - unlike, for example, urokinase, which causes abnormal bleeding. On top of all this, your urine has antibodies that can stop a disease long before recognizable signs or symptoms could be detected by modern technology.
UT tackles the root of a problem or imbalance rather than merely masking its symptoms by reinforcing the autoinoculation - or more simply, homeopathic - actions of the immune system. As cells discharge traces of diseased substances and allow them to escape into healthy tissues, leukocyte activity increases and creates a powerful antigen serum, remnants of which are passed into the urine. To take one of Christy's examples, let's say you take a pill to help you sleep, even though, unbeknownst to you, your insomnia is caused by an undiagnosed food allergy. Thanks to the pill, you start sleeping again, but after a while, fearful of becoming over-reliant on the drug, you stop taking it. Boom, you're back to counting sheep. Using UT, both of your ills - sleep deprivation and food allergies - can be overcome at once. Your urine offers the exact antibodies you need to eradicate your allergy and provides factor S to naturally induce sleep. All this for free.
Please pass the pee
For the truly faint of stomach, a homeopathic tincture acts as a safe prelude to UT. The more adventuresome can start out with one ounce and slowly work up to six or eight ounces daily. Drink your urine first thing in the morning, since hormonal secretions increase at night, when the body is totally relaxed and repairing itself. Always collect the intermediate flow and drink it right away; don't boil or dilute it, as this destroys or reduces urine's most beneficial properties. Some experts suggest waiting at least 15 minutes after UT before eating or drinking - although I have to admit I bend the rules a little and brush my teeth immediately afterward.
Personally, I like to create a ritual around drinking my urine. Although this sounds a bit weird, I go into the bathroom alone and pee into a round glass cup (a special one with the earth etched on it). Before drinking, I hold it to my heart, close my eyes, and connect with the intrinsic power of my body, thanking myself for healing. In this way, I begin every day in communion with myself.
UT works best with adequate sleep, meditation, and exercise, and, like any other natural technique, it requires patience, discipline, and self-love. Also, the better your diet, the better the taste, although even within the parameters of a clean, preferably vegetarian, diet - one free of refined sugars, caffeine, nicotine, preservatives, and drugs (since these substances can cause toxic build-up) - the flavors of urine will vary: The morning after miso soup, my urine tastes particularly strong and salty; likewise, after curry, it tends to be spicy sweet. Although it does come out bitter at times, the only time I have any real difficulty is when I eat asparagus (I'll let you figure this one out). Most of the time, it has a subtle, slightly salty taste, and its color reminds me of an oaky, full-bodied chardonnay.
Although I didn't experience it, the first-time recipient of UT will sometimes undergo a "healing crisis." Anytime during the first month, you may experience discomfort while the body releases long-held toxins. Symptoms like headaches, nausea, rashes, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, boils, and sweating are just part of the natural release process and well worth the final results. The best way to get through the detox period is to monitor your body's changes and regulate your UT intake accordingly, cutting back the amount until your symptoms subside.
Other effective uses of urine include: topical applications (it's best to store it for a couple of days first, because bacterial fermentation enhances its healing effects), rubbings, foot baths, enemas, gargling, douching, eye and ear drops, and sniffing. I still use my urine as a nighttime face treatment. I have uncovered studies showing that urine, more specifically urea, increases the water binding capacity of the skin, and I often get compliments on my smooth, clear complexion. Believe it or not, I've even read that spraying fruits and vegetables with a urine and water solution will keep them bug- and fungus-free, and, most importantly, will cleanse them of chemical sprays.
Both externally and internally, urine functions as an excellent antidote for infections, skin ulcers, wounds, burns, snake bites, and insect stings. I learned this - long before I heard of UT - on a summer field trip to the beach. About 10 of us were walking along the water with a counselor, when one my friends stepped on a dead jellyfish. Much to my amazement, the counselor lifted up his shorts (carefully, so none of us kids saw anything) and peed on my friend's swelling foot. Within seconds my friend forgot about the jellyfish and started screaming about the treatment. To this day, I wonder if this unusual act of first aid was the seed that prepared me to accept urine therapy some 17 years later.
It may save your life
But more than just a rescue aid or supplement for the healthy, UT is also for those with chronic, acute, even severe illnesses. A practicing urine therapist in the 1930s and '40s and author of The Water of life, a nonscientific book of case studies, Dr. John Armstrong showed that urine fasts could heal just about any disease that wasn't caused by traumatism or structural defects. He was especially fond of urine fasts, believing them superior to other liquid fasts because of urine's ability to rebuild as well as cleanse. And he could make such claims, since he not only cured others using urine fasts, but he cured himself of both tuberculosis and diabetes - something years of allopathic treatments had failed to do.
As with all "do it yourself" healing, UT recipients often become infused with a vitality they feel compelled to share. Powerful testimonials support every book I have read about UT, the most convincing of them coming from those whom conventional medicine had sentenced to death. Christy writes of a woman with an inoperable uterine tumor who drank nothing but her urine for seven days and made the tumor disappear, and of another "terminal" patient with metastatic cancer of the liver who, in the throes of hepatitis and a high fever, decided she had nothing to lose by drinking her morning urine: "By the fifth day, I felt more energetic, by the 10th, I returned to the doctor. He couldn't believe I was alive."
The testimonials of PWAs (people with AIDS) are especially potent. In Urine-Therapy: It May Save Your Life, author Beatrice Bartnett, a naturopathic and chiropractic physician who cofounded the Water of Life Institute in Florida, cites a case of a man whose T-cell count went from 285 to 489 in four months while treating with UT alone. Other books document successful results from using UT to combat Karposi's sarcoma lesions, thrush, intestinal parasites, Epstein-Barr, herpes, diarrhea, and colitis. Researchers believe that UT works so well with AIDS and its opportunistic viruses because the urine of a PWA not only has anticancer agents, such as DHEA, retine, antieoplastons, uric acid, H-11 extract, and HUD (human urine's derivative), but it also contains the antibodies to HIV-1, a fact discovered in 1988 by Dr. Alvin Friedman Kien at the New York University Medical School.
In study after study, UT comes across as nothing short of miraculous. It fights free-radicals, eases morning sickness, acts as a diuretic, and has redressed a remarkable number of ailments, including arthritis, hair loss, jaundice, eczema, leprosy, gangrene, malaria, venereal diseases, menstrual irregularities, candida, warts, prostate problems, obesity, asthma, migraines, toxemia, rabies, peptic ulcers, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. Some even profess it enhances spiritual growth. The general theme is one of a therapy that works when all others have failed.
UT is a medicine we always have at our disposal (so to speak), one that can actually save our life in an emergency. During Jordan's Nine-Day War, Newsweek reported that the Red Crescent, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, told the nation on public radio: Your children are expiring of thirst; we cannot help you except by telling you that you may be able to save their lives by letting them drink their own urine. A friend of mine benefited from a similar understanding when he became sick in the middle of an unauthorized bicycle tour through the back roads of China. In his words, "I was alone, feverish, completely dehydrated, and unable to get help for myself. Then I remembered urine therapy, and after a few weeks of my own urine, I was strong enough to continue my ride." I don't know about you, but I'd say pee drinking sure beats the alternative in these two situations.
I realize accepting UT as the saving water of life or as the elixir that allows yogis to traverse great deserts doesn't mean you're ready to wake up tomorrow and have yourself a cup of pee. Even so, whether you're curious or completely grossed out, vast rewards are waiting. Give yourself a chance to get comfortable with the idea. When I got started, I imagined myself as a baby floating in the waters of my mother's urine, but if this doesn't work for you, try returning to the recycling analogy. Think of UT as composting, where leftovers are miraculously turned into prized nutrition. Remember, nature rarely wastes a thing.
Blake More is a poet and freelance writer living in Mill Valley, California.