One bizarre health idea that seems to need refuting every few years is drinking your own urine, a practice which while it may have a spot few historical examples to serve as ballast does not, in the end, (ahem) hold any water.
The newest Exhibit A is one 54-year-old man from Essex, UK, who has gotten media attention by claiming to have survived for the past six years on little more than grapefruit, the occasional order of french fries and, of course, two glasses per day of his own urine.
“For the first few weeks, I would mix it with grapefruit juice,” says Dave Murphy, to the Sun. “But eventually, I began drinking my urine straight-up and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.”
Murphy purports that his weight went from 127 kg (280 pounds) to 76 kg (168 pounds) through his unusual diet. “Within a matter of minutes of consuming my first glass of pee though, I felt the benefits. I had lots of energy and my bowel movements improved,” says Murphy.
As delicious as it sounds, unfortunately, there are no medical or health benefits to be had from regular consumption of urine, according to the empirical evidence. It may not do you much harm to have the occasional tipple (but, really, why?), as your pee is composed mostly of water with a few waste compounds in small quantities such as urea, chloride and creatinine, but there is no scientific basis to its being a worthwhile practice.
“Urine is sterile where it is produced in the kidney, but once it has left the body, it is usually contaminated,” says Jutta M. Loeffler, a researcher at the Centre for Amyloidosis and Acute Phase Proteins at the University College London. In an essay entitled “The Golden Fountain – Is urine the miracle drug no one told you about?” Loeffler says, “It is not toxic per se. There may be rare situations where urine is the cleanest liquid at hand to pour over a dirty wound, or the only liquid to drink when buried under a collapsed building or lost at sea for days, but most of the time there are better or tastier ways to improve one’s health.”
Not that others haven’t given it a go over the years. From described practices in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome to ancient Indian and Chinese texts, many cultures have at one time or another touted pee’s health benefits. Perhaps the most famous individual example in recent memory was Morarji Desai, prime minister of India, who in 1978 told the American program 60 Minutes that urine therapy was a “perfect solution” for the millions of Indians who couldn’t afford health treatments and that he himself had been a longtime practitioner.
We’ll give the last word to the Sun’s own nutritionist, Amanda Ursell, who says, “You are weeing out the excess stuff that you body doesn’t need, after all the goodness has been absorbed.
And your kidneys have very carefully filtered it out, so why would you then go and drink it?” Uh-huh.