But many medical professionals say it’s not the secret to good health that advocates are claiming.
According to one case study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, urine therapy has been used in the past by ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Currently, the practice is popular in Asia, South America and the Middle East as a “wonder therapy” for conditions like acne or even cancer.
However, experts are skeptical since the therapy doesn’t have much research to back it up. According to the study above, drinking urine or applying it topically can have harmful effects. When left outside the body, the urine can quickly attract harmful bacteria, the authors state.
In their case study, a 16-year-old boy had attempted topical urine therapy for acne after receiving pressure from his mother to do so. The technique worked for a while but eventually inflamed it further after the boy tried using stored urine for convenience.
Doctors confirmed that his skin had amounts of bacteria well above normal skin flora. They then started him on a prescription treatment regimen that healed the inflammation within a few months.
Though a little bizarre, this type of alternative treatment is not uncommon. Urine therapy may arise out of the idea that urine is initially sterile when leaving the body. Many people, including doctors, believe the urine lacks harmful bacteria at this stage.
However, a more recent study on 41 patients with overactive bladder disorder has revealed otherwise. The study was published in the Journal of Microbiology.
Researchers examined urine samples of all patients plus 24 controls, using a more extensive testing protocol than normal. Upon testing, the researchers found 85 different bacterial species, including Streptococcus and Staphylococcus.
They also found bacteria present in 80 percent of the samples, even though standard testing measures suggested over 90 percent were “no growth” specimens.
The authors aimed to prove that these bacteria exist in the urinary tract so that future research may be conducted on whether overactive bladder disorder is bacteria-related.
However, the research can be applied to multiple situations. Based on this study, people who drink or apply urine to their skin may be re-introducing harmful bacteria into the body, compromising health.
In addition, the acne case study mentions that urine is a waste product that the body means to eliminate. Reusing that waste seems “contrary to good health,” states the JCAD study. However, the authors also point out that manufactured urea is used in some medications, including prescription dermatology drugs.
Even the U.S. Army Field Manual advises against drinking urine for survival purposes. That’s because urine contains harmful toxins and salt in concentrated amounts.
Because these waste products are highly concentrated, they could place undue stress on the liver and kidneys. Both organs would have to re-filter the concentrated toxins out of the body, straining them unnecessarily.
In addition, the field manual states that the body needs extra water to process fluids such as seawater that have higher salt concentration. Drinking these fluids can actually lead to dehydration.
The bottom line? Urine therapy may not be the wonder cure people want it to be. There just isn’t enough information to prove its efficacy.
However, what little research there is suggests the therapy could actually be dangerous. Besides, there are far more pleasant ways to maintain good health than drinking urine or putting it on your skin.