Trust me, the act of drinking urine (of any sources) is not new. It has been practised for a few decades (maybe longer than that) by various kind of population, notably, among mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, one of which has been documented in 2009 by the HBO. Despite all of the physical and physiological benefits of drinking urine, I think most of us agree that it takes courage to try such therapy and with the advent of a much more effective medication, urine has been discarded as the potential treatment for various diseases, particularly seizure. Can you imagine, if someone went to see a doctor/healer and he prescribed to you his urine instead of antibiotics? He could potentially introduce a much more resistant species of bacteria into your system if he was infected with such.
One of the reasons given by Juan Manuel Marquez regarding the habit of drinking urine during his training session is to absorb any expelled vitamins which could optimise health. People can disagree with him but he was healthy which kinda encourage that kind of attitude among believers and himself considering drinking urine for vitamins is way cheaper than buying them from pharmacies etc. Other than that, drinking your urine is like recycling the vitamin which you have eaten earlier. If you spend roughly 20 bucks on vitamin supplement each month, you will be tempted to try and drink your urine, as you will only have to spend it once or never (we can get micronutrient from foods). Your body can absorb a limited amount of vitamin and the excess of it will be expelled in the genitourinary system. The way I see it, people drink urine because it is sterile compared to eating shit which has been exposed to tonnes of bacteria inside of our intestine. It sounds logic for some people, but for me, it is not. Maybe, ever.
I'm not sure about 2018, but back in 2010, close to 150 videos were posted on Youtube to promote urine therapies and according to a statistic on Google, more than 100,000 searches were made on the subject. It is a relatively popular thing back in the day but drinking urine to optimise health was not just invented in the 21st century, it dated way back to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome (Source). In a 60 minutes interview with the prime minister of India, Morarji Desai, he stated that in 1978, one of the solutions to malnourishment and disease control among people in India is to drink their urine. It's thought as a great preventative measure for anyone who can't afford to buy any medicine for treating certain diseases and once again, I'm going to name seizure as an example.
It is not only about how people were talking on the internet about urine therapy that made it popular but how people were promoting it. Most of the time, people who revealed the secret that they were drinking urine for health benefits all this time was a state or world champion in something; if they were just an average Joe who works in an office for 10 bucks per hour, no one will become tempted with such therapy. Take Marquez for example, when the HBO was documenting his secret to success in the MMA, he was just about to train with his fellow boxer when he took a sip of his urine on the show. Naturally, people would get curious; usually, athletes would consume proteins or any other related supplements to gain muscles and strength so if he was consuming something else while excelling in his sport, some people would be anxious to try that. It's not that I think any kind of urine therapies don't work or anything but I certainly think there are better alternatives that can be used to supply your body with anything that you required.
Fun Fact: Drinking Urines Can Facilitate Your Bowel Movement As The Urea Provides Some Kind Of Laxative Effect But I Would Prefer Coffee.
Urine Therapy And Microbial Assessment
Treating ailments by using urine is no new feat. In Nigeria, two of the commonest urines being used for traditional medicine are human and cow's urine (mostly for paediatrics). It is kinda scary to have a child which experienced a form of seizure attack without any evidence of brain abnormalities (infection, injuries whatsoever) especially to laymen thus turning their head towards traditional urine treatment can be considered as a reasonable choice; well, at least for them. Whatever factors which can be enlisted to hypothesize the probable reason why people keep on coming to the traditional way of treating seizure, all of them comes back to the most critical factor; local access to a better healthcare service. If we want to use Nigeria as an example, there are a lot of people who have been using urines to treat their medical conditions such as diabetic foot, ulcers, convulsion and as an antidote to poisons. According to a paper which was written in 2017 by Davies Adeloye et al:
The Nigerian health system is relatively weak, and there is yet a coordinated response across the country. A number of health workforce crises have been reported in recent times due to several months’ salaries owed, poor welfare, lack of appropriate health facilities and emerging factions among health workers. Poor administration and response across different levels of government have played contributory roles to further internal crises among health workers, with different factions engaged in protracted supremacy challenge. These crises have consequently prevented optimal healthcare delivery to the Nigerian population.
In my opinion (based on the result quoted above), a poor healthcare system is one of the contributing factors to why people in Nigeria prefer to seek alternative medicine (including urine therapy). It's crazy that people would drink urine instead of taking antibiotics or any FDA-approved medication to achieve a specific drug-related effect. There are a few consequences of drinking urine and one of them is getting an infection. Even though, in general, some condition like seizures (popular example) carries a high recovery rate among patients all over the world, in Nigeria, it is one of the most significant diseases which contributes to the high morbidity and mortality rate. Seizure, specifically a condition called febrile seizures which is commonly presented in 6 months to 5 years old kid can be worrisome and human's urine is not the only substance that people have been using to treat such condition; some people were using kerosene, car fuel and cow's urine.
Even though some people claimed that urine is sterile, they are actually not. What I can think of is if there is a healthy individual, we can only consider urine sterile when it is collected in the bladder. When it goes out, it would have contacts with multiple microbial agents particularly Gram-negative uropathogenic microorganism such as E.coli, Pseudomonas, Proteus etc. If urines (either human or any other animals) were a black hole for pathogenic microorganism, then drinking them to treat an infection would be wrong. Most of the microorganism contained in urines would have the potential to cause a different kind of infectious diseases, particularly acute gastroenteritis which has been causing at least 4 million deaths in Nigeria each year (Source). The worst-case scenario would be when someone drinks urine which contains microbial agents which are resistant to antibiotics, some studies indicate that approximately 63% people in Nigeria were having urine filled with bacteria which are resistant to standard-issue antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cefuroxime etc. making it difficult and expensive to treat them.
Treating children, especially those who are under 6 months old, with urine can be damning as they didn't have a well-developed immune system just yet. Even with a variety of medications available, a lot of philanthropists, government-sponsored medications and all, the rate of mortality for children in developing nations remain high. I'm not saying traditional treatment would provide negative consequences to people who were sick, but if we didn't understand appropriately regarding why are we sick and how to get rid of that sickness, then it would be bad if eventually, the mode of treatment used was bizarre (such as drinking urine).
Jellyfish Stings And Urine Treatment
This is one of the most popular opinions among the general public. The concept of urinating on wounds which were inflicted by jellyfish was popularised in multiple TV-series and movies, one of which is the famous show entitled "F.R.I.E.N.D.S". I used to think that it could be true as urine is mildly acidic but for most of the people out there, it is not the case. Let us take a step back; when we were in contact with a jellyfish, we will get stung by its venom courtesy of the multiple tiny bumpy cells called nematocysts which are equipped in all of its appendages. When we were stung by a jellyfish, our priority is to remove all kind of appendages which might have latched to the surface of the skin to stop the nematocysts from injecting its venom causing mild to severe pain. It would be best to have gloves, plastics or anything that could be used as a barrier between your hands and the appendages.
Even though we felt pain all the time after being stung, the nematocysts were programmed to inject more venom under a specific condition which can be considered as unfavourable; for example, if they were exposed to the environment other than salty sea water. That would mean washing your skin with mineral water can be harmful. Even after we removed the appendages, it is crucial for us to wash it off as some of the nematocysts could have latched onto the skin causing pain. Using vinegar or anything which is mildly acidic can be a good way to get rid of the nematocysts and this is where the idea of using urine came from. Even though urine is mildly acidic, but compared to the vinegar it's like non-acidic so the nematocysts can't be killed; sometimes they would treat it as like you were pouring mineral water onto them causing them to inject more venom into the skin. So yeah, urinating on people who have been stung by jellyfishes can do more harm than good.
- Microbial evaluation and public health implications of urine as alternative therapy in clinical pediatric cases: health implication of urine therapy
- Health workforce and governance: the crisis in Nigeria
- Taking the piss: a brief history of athletes drinking their own urine
- Fact or Fiction?: Urinating on a Jellyfish Sting is an Effective Treatment
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