Across all times and cultures, there have been a variety of hygienic practices, some of which we would regard with horror today. One of those, which has been much discussed recently, is the practice of drinking one’s own urine to promote good health. Yes, you read that correctly, drinking a steaming glass of your own pee as a health supplement.
For most people, the idea of putting their own excreta in their mouth is met with revulsion, and yet this folk “medicine” has been passed down through the ages. Does its longevity mean there must be something to it? We asked Dr. Takaoki Suda of Shibuya Sky Clinic to weigh in.
“This is likely just an urban legend. It’s not really feasible that any health benefits could arise from drinking your own urine,” he says.
Well, that decides it. I mean, your body is trying to get rid of it, after all, so it’s likely to do you more harm that good, right?
“Actually, I’m not really sure we can go as far as saying it’s bad for you,” says Dr. Suda. “The urine of a healthy person is about 98% water, so just drinking it probably wouldn’t cause you any harm. If fact, in an emergency situation, like being stranded in the mountains without any water, it might come in handy.”
However, as the urine does contain small amounts of urea and other things your body is trying to get rid of, Dr. Suda says he can’t really recommend drinking it just for the sake of drinking it.
“This is just a supposition, but if drinking urine has any effect that promotes health, it would be something that assists the mechanism of evolution. As an extreme example, take koalas, which are able to eat the highly toxic eucalyptus plant. Baby koalas eat a special kind of feces their mothers produce in order to get the bacteria necessary for neutralizing the toxicity. In the case of drinking urine, if there is some logical reason for it, perhaps it had its basis in a similar biological system.”
So if you aren’t in danger of dying of thirst due to some freak accident, it sounds like you better refrain from drinking your own pee.