Urophagia – the act of drinking pee. We have all heard how it is an option when stranded and in desperate need of water. British hiker Paul Beck was stranded for 6 days and reportedly survived by doing this, and Bear Grylls has done it on camera, but do you know the truth about drinking your own urine?
What are the benefits and drawbacks of it? Health concerns? This article will shed some light over the subject that has many survivalists cringing.
Evidence for health claim.
Advocates for drinking urine say that it has many benefits and some have even replaced their morning cup of coffee with it. However, is it actually safe to drink? In short – yes, but under certain conditions.
Urine is mostly comprised of water filtered through the body as it flushes out waste products. In terms of survival, drinking urine is acceptable, since it is preferable than suffering dehydration and its consequences. Ancient medical and cultural practices in Egypt, China, India, and the Aztec empire included drinking urine as a treatment and even a cure for many ailments.
The ancient holistic healing system of India, Ayurveda, allows for urine drinking as an alternative medical practice for asthma, arthritis, allergies, acne, cancer, indigestion, migraines, and even wrinkles.
There is no real medical evidence that supports drinking urine as an effective treatment for any of that, but studies have shown that urine has some components that have medicinal properties. Urea, one of the primary components of urine (other than water), holds antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral attributes.
Though no scientific evidence supports healing properties from drinking urine, drinking small amounts of your own urine will most likely do no harm at all.
Evidence against health claim.
Urine does contain some harmful substances in those individuals who have taken drugs (both illegal and legal) or in those who have been exposed to chemicals.
Drinking urine should not be a substitute for drinking fresh water – the proportion of water would quickly decrease as the proportion of harmful waste products increased.
In response to those who favor urine for the fact that urine contains vitamins, proteins, hormones, and other beneficial components, it should be noted that the body’s process of elimination results in the kidneys retaining what is useful and disposes of everything else in the urine as waste.
Excessive urine consumption has negative side effects including fatigue, diarrhea, fever, and muscle soreness. The more urine consumed, the more the symptoms increase.
Since urine is primarily comprised of water it is harmless to drink small amounts, granted that you haven’t been exposed to drugs or environmental toxins that your body is trying to get rid of.
Now, when facing dehydration in a survival situation, drinking urine makes a little more sense and becomes much more preferable since the short-term benefits outweigh the risks. This option isn’t a long-lasting one – your kidneys will stop producing urine as dehydration intensifies.