Today marked my 84th day on Urine Therapy.
When I was in northern India studying Yoga, a young woman surprised me after class by asking if it was okay to drink her urine. I had just joined a month-long course and had apparently missed a lecture a few days earlier on the health promoting effects of pee drinking.
Off the cuff, I told her I didn’t think drinking a little bit of her urine every morning would harm her, but I didn’t understand why she would want to do such a seemingly crazy thing either. Over the next few weeks I heard lots of reasons why.
My teacher would smile big most mornings and ask if I had tried my own natural health promoter yet. He even sweetly offered to come to my place to coach me through it, saying that the first taste is the hardest. He said you need to get through the psychological aversion that comes from being told in the West that urine is a waste product when in fact it is full of vitamins, proteins and hormones that nourish your body and fight disease.
Teachers and students weren’t just drinking it. Ulrika, from Iceland, had a face pock-marked from years of acne. Only scars were left with no active disease, and this she attributed to her recent time spent at a urine therapy hospital not far away. Caretakers had rubbed her own urine into her face and massaged her body with cow urine.
Students directed their yellow streams onto the fungus of athletes feet, soaked it onto bandages placed over pus-filled wounds, and even douched urine to alleviate vaginal yeast infections.
When first asked about urine therapy, I hadn’t put much thought into it. In fact, I hadn’t thought about it all. I didn’t realize that there’s a whole tribe of people out there who see it as natural medicine. Since then I’ve taken a much closer look, reviewing the basic science and whatever studies I could find in an attempt to get to the truth.
So, what is the truth about urine therapy? Can it help you? Can it harm you? And is this really a part of Yoga?
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at the Yogic literature promoting urine therapy. We’ll review what urine is composed of and how and why it’s formed by the body. Then the potentially beneficial and the potentially harmful effects of different components of urine will be explored.
Urine Therapy in the Yogic Literature
The oldest text from the Indian subcontinent encouraging the use of urine in healing is hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. Known as the Damara Tantra, it gives a detailed description of how to use urine, sometimes mixing it with specific herbs or minerals to cure disease.
The Damara Tantra, specifically the part known as Shivambu Kalpa, suggests collecting urine in a copper bowl, eating light and unsalted meals, getting plenty of rest, and sleeping on the ground. Then one should wake up before dawn and, leaving the first and last portion, should collect the middle part of the morning’s first flow. According to the author, after one month it brings about purification and after twelve years it bestows the power “to live as long as the moon and the stars.”1,2
Damara Tantra, Shivambu Kalpa:
Sloka 9 – “Shivambu (one’s own urine) is a divine nectar! It is capable of abolishing old age and various types of diseases and ailments. The follower should first ingest his urine and then start his meditation.”
Slokas 30 and 31 “He who takes Shivambu (one’s own urine) daily and excludes salty, sour and bitter foods from his diet acquires divine accomplishments quickly. Freed from all ailments, and possessing a body comparable to that of Shiva himself, he deports himself like the gods in the Universe for an eternity.”
Sloka 45 – “The Shivambu (one’s own urine) should be boiled in an earthen pot and extracted to one fourth its quantity. It should then be allowed to cool. The extract can be used for whole body message.”
Sloka 48 – “Shivambu (one’s own urine) should be applied to the whole body. It is exceptionally nourishing and can relieve all ailments.”
Sloka 54 – “Unboiled urine should never be used for body message. If the extract of Shivambu is used for message, it is very wholesome for the body. The follower can accomplish many things.”
Of the three texts more traditionally seen as teaching manuals for Yogis, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is the only one that mentions urine therapy.3 The Gheranda Samhita4 and the Shiva Samhita5 do not.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika
III:96 – “Discard the beginning of the stream of water because it has too much bile. Discard the end of the stream because it is worthless. Wholly enjoy the cool, middle stream. This is Amaroli…”
How is urine made and why?
Urine is the result of blood filtering through the kidneys. In some ways it’s like a run-off valve for overflow, but it’s not really that simple. Sometimes the body spends energy to actively secrete things into the urine that it doesn’t need or want.6
The kidneys have the very important job of regulating how much water is in the body. They also regulate the amount of salt that is there. Together, the amount of salt and water present form an intimate relationship for physiological balance. If the body has too little water within its blood vessels, it can die of dehydration. If it has too much water, it can die of that too. It’s the same with salt. If there’s too little salt in the body, it can’t function. And if there’s too much salt in the blood and body, that’s definitely toxic.It’s a moment-by-moment thing, with salt and water working to balance each other. After drinking a huge glass of water, most of us who were already in balance will need to go pee pretty quickly. And if we’re sweating in the desert without any water, our kidneys get the picture and stop making urine, or they make dark yellow concentrated urine. They’re very smart that way.
It’s a complicated process though. We’ve evolved to be able to handle not only daily exposure to salt and water, but a whole host of other things that the body needs to regulate to stay in a safe, healthy balance. For instance, the kidneys play a very important part in maintaining the pH of the body by controlling the excretion of hydrogen ions into the urine. If they didn’t and too many accumulated, the body would get acidic and die by slipping into an un-recoverable coma. On the other hand, if the body gets too alkaline, un-stoppable seizures eventually develop leading to death.7
What’s in urine?
Lots of stuff. Urine is mostly water with at least 200 known substances in it. It probably contains thousands more,8 and what’s there will depend not only on what you eat and drink but also on what gets absorbed through your skin and breathed in through your lungs.
Researchers working for NASA in the 1970s thoroughly studied pee in an effort to figure out what to do with it in space. If you’d like more information on the chemical and physical properties of urine than you could possibly need for anything, click here to check out one of their online papers.
Information or testimonials are not offered as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.