Piddles, Not Pills 

Is it really true that some people drink their own urine for health reasons? I can't believe any normal person would actually do that on purpose. If you were stranded in a lifeboat, that would be one thing, but it makes no sense to me to drink your own waste. Please tell me this is just another one of those passing health fads, because if it's not, I think I'm going to be sick.


Let's get the easy part over with: Some might find it hard to swallow that a wee group of urine drinkers are coming out of the water closet, but the leak has now become a steady stream as more and more home brewers begin filling up on the void.

Lord, I love my job.

According to the believers, there is practically nothing a steaming glass of pee can't remedy. You name it—cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis—if you can catch it, urine can cure it. The promoters claim that the chemicals, nutrients and proteins present in the yellow liquid act like natural vaccines and provide antiviral and antibacterial protection. Additionally, other constituents are said to contain cancer fighting agents as well as have allergy curing and hormone balancing properties. If I recall correctly, the last time so many helpful compounds were found in urine, they took away an Olympic gold medal.

Urine drinking in small quantities for general health has been around for ages, especially in the Hindu, yogic and Ayurvedic communities of India, but also in certain Russian and Far East Asian cultural groups. It was introduced to the West, most publicly, in a late 1970s interview with the then 83-year-old Prime Minister of India, Morarji Desai. The 60 Minutes broadcast included Desai's declaration that his secret for health and longevity was the regular consumption of his own urine. It certainly didn't hurt the cause that he eventually lived to be 99 years old. Since then, books on the subject have vastly expanded the range of curative proclamations and theorized their mechanisms.

The expansive use of the heretofore waste product now includes enemas, douches, sinus rinses, soaks, topical massage applications and urine-only fasts. However, the literal cup-of-Joe is still the preferred technique. The most popular methods all use a mid-stream catch of the first morning urine. The simple "get acquainted" routine begins with a couple of drops of the golden elixir under your tongue, increasing a little each day, until you can happily savor an entire glass. Another method integrates the homeopathic technique: a drop of urine is shaken with a teaspoon pure water, a single drop of that mixture is shaken in a second teaspoon of water, then a drop of that new solution mixed in a teaspoon of vodka. Devotees promise a drop or two of this alcohol mix works as well as any expensive homeopathic preparation. Somehow, I find that particular claim quite easy to believe.

Are the zealots misguided? Perhaps. Imperiled? No. A small amount of urine from a healthy person is neither toxic nor infectious. Urine is the result of blood filtering through the kidney and contains 95 percent water plus salts, urea and small amounts of over-produced or unnecessary waste products. Urine in the bladder is nearly sterile and, unless you have a urinary tract infection, it picks up only a small amount of bacteria in its journey into the toilet or, in some cases, shot glass. A common case made by urinophiles is that many immune-producing proteins—called antigens—are excreted into the urine. By re-ingesting them, they say, it will stimulate critical antibody production in the blood. Forgive my use of logic, but if the antigens are in your urine, they originally came from your blood and therefore, have already done all the stimulating possible.

I have no issue with those who wish to drink from their own fountain, though they should be clear that not a single medical paper has backed up any of the many claims. Researchers would love to find something; science has already discovered and exploited two hormones found in liquid waste. Estrogen is derived from horse urine, and the fertility hormone hCG is isolated from the urine of pregnant women.

This ultimate recycling is unlikely to catch on as a new age health fad, at least during asparagus season. So, Kevin, the practice is not spreading so rapidly that you need to make yourself sick. Of course, I may be wrong about how few people actually drink the stuff. I mean, why else would there be those giant breath mints in the bottom of every urinal?

Dr. Ed Rabin is a chiropractor practicing at Life Chiropractic Center in Boise. Send factory sealed beverages and health-related questions to (on the Web at

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