03 September 2004

--- Quack Remedy Gaining Popularity

Late this morning, BatJay sent me a BBC article about Thais drinking urine and using it as alternative medicine for a number of ailments.

My first encounter with the alleged medicinal value of urine was when I was in my primary years and I had conjunctivitis (pinkeye or sore eyes) of both eyes. A mother of a classmate back in the province advised me to wash my eyes with my first piss in the morning. She said it will work like a charm and my sore eyes will disappear in no time. Of course, even then I was suspicious of quack remedies. I knew urine is a waste material of the body and that the eyes were one of the most sensitive parts of the human body. I did not do it, and instead consulted an eye doctor who prescribed an antibiotic.

And now, here comes urine drinking. Done by no less than our Asian neighbors --- the Thais. And as BatJay will say, "I shit you not" with stories like these, it was the prestigious BBC which carried the story. So, this is all true, and as that BBC report will tell you, the practice of urine drinking "has been practiced in Thailand for hundreds of years." The cures claimed by those who practice urine drinking range from "cancer to back pain."

Now, I'm not the type of person who will burst your bubble if you're a believer of such practices. But what I will do is tell you what urine is all about and then, from there, I would like you to make your own judgment.

Urine is an ultrafiltrate. It is the solution or liquid that you get when the kidney filters your blood and interstitial fluids. When blood and interstitial fluids go to the kidneys, necessary electrolytes for the body (potassium, sodium, calcium, etc.) are retained depending on the metabolic balance, and potentially toxic substances are excreted along with the solution we call "urine." It is composed mainly of large amounts of urea, (which in turn is rich in nitrogen) and other metabolic waste products.

Urine, per se, is not really dirty. It is sterile and odorless. It only becomes "dirty" and may contain bacteria, when the source has urinary tract infection (UTI) or a sexually transmissible infection (STI). The bacteria in the urine converts some substances into new substances that cause the characteristic smell of stale urine; in Tagalog, we call it "mapanghi."

The practice of urine drinking has is not unique to the Thais but has been used as early as the Aztec period as a "drink to relieve stomach and intestine problems." It is also done in most parts of India and the Asian region. The practice of "urine therapy" today is advocated also by New Age practioners as alternative medicine. You can see their websites here and here.

There is another interesting take on the subject here which I prefer because it was done with Dr. Robert Farnsworth, one of Australia's leading urologists.

Personally and professionally, I will NOT recommend it.

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