Last week, you may have come across a cable T.V. program in the Taboo series on urpohagia. Urophagia is beside the point of this article, because such use is outside the scope of any cosmetic considerations. However, you may have noticed that some products do contain urine, or the substances, which urine itself contains. Urine is 95% water. NASA experiments have proven that water can be extracted from urine for drinking. Urine as such can be used to sustain the human functions for a limited period of time, e.g. when buried after an earthquake. It is slightly acidic (PH depends on what you eat/drink, thus a diet high in citrus, vegetables, or dairy can increase urine pH. Some drugs also can increase urine pH, including acetazolamide, potassium citrate, and sodium bicarbonate; while a diet high in meat or cranberries can decrease urine pH, i.e. more acidic. Drugs that can decrease urine pH include ammonium chloride, chlorothiazide diuretics, and methenamine mandelate.) Urine consists of what your body does not need, because it carries waste from the kidneys out of your system. The kidneys contain millions of nephrons which filter toxins, waste, ingested water and mineral salts out of the bloodstream. The kidneys regulate blood acidity by excreting excessive alkaline salts when necessary. The chief constituent of the nitrogenous wastes in urine is urea, a product of protein decomposition. Urea is, among other things, a diuretic.
NASA [CR-1802, D. F. Putnam, July 1971] determined that, apart from water, urine contains, in order of decreasing concentration: urea 9.3 g/l, chloride 1.87 g/l, sodium 1.17 g/l, potassium 0.750 g/l, creatinine 0.670 g/l and other dissolved ions, inorganic and organic compounds. Urine is sterile until it reaches the urethra where the epithelial cells lining the urethra are colonized by anaerobic Gram negative rods and cocci. Subsequent to elimination from the body, urine can acquire strong odors due to bacterial action. Most noticeably, the asphyxiating ammonia is produced by breakdown of urea. Some diseases alter the quantity and consistency of the urine, such as sugar as a consequence of diabetes.
You may “read” a lot from your urine, its smell and color. Darker and thicker urine shows dehydration. Too much yellow equals overabundance of B vitamins in your bloodstream. Certain medication, e.g. rifampin and pyridium, can turn your urine orange. When it is deep dark orange to brown, you may have jaundice, rhabdomyolysis, or Gilbert’s syndrome. Black or dark-colored urine is referred to as melanuria and may be caused by a melanoma. Interestingly, beets can cause a pinkish tint, while asparagus consumption can turn urine greenish. Eating asparagus is also known to cause a strong odor in human urine. This is due to the body’s breakdown of asparagusic acid. Other foods (and beverages) that contribute to odor include curry, alcohol, coffee, turkey, and onion.
Attempted medicinal use of urine is nothing new. Aztec physicians used urine to clean external wounds to prevent infection, and administered it as a drink to relieve stomach and intestinal problems. In India, the ancient Ayurvedic medicinal system calls urine Shivambu (you can find links to this therapy on the web). Chinese folk medicine also documents use of urine as remedy to various ailments – always secondary, however, to herbal medication. Ancient Romans used human urine to cleanse grease stains from their clothing, before acquiring soap from the Germans during the first century AD. Urine that has been fermented for the purposes of cleaning is referred to as lant. Emperor Nero instituted a tax (Latin: vectigal urinae) on the urine industry, largely because of the envy of the profit that one of his rivals made on this “industry”. The tax, however, was continued by Nero’s successor, Vespasian, to whom is attributed the Latin saying Pecunia non olet (“money doesn’t smell”) – this is said to have been Vespasian’s reply to a complaint from his son about the disgusting nature of the tax. Vespasian’s name is still attached to public urinals in France (vespasiennes), Italy (vespasiani), and Romania (vespasiene). Alchemists spent much time trying to extract gold from urine, and this effort led to discoveries such as white phosphorus, which was discovered by the German alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669 when he was distilling fermented urine. In 1773 the French chemist Hilaire Rouelle discovered the organic compound urea by boiling urine dry.
We still use urine today. Urine contains proteins and other substances that are useful for medical therapy and are ingredients in many prescription drugs (e.g., Ureacin, Urecholine, Urowave). Urine from postmenopausal women is rich in gonadotropins that can yield follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone for fertility therapy (see our previous posting). The first such commercial product was Pergonal. Urine also contains antibodies, which can be used in diagnostic antibody tests for a range of pathogens, including HIV-1.
However, its acidity makes it largely unusable for self-medication of any skin diseases. What you find in skin products is a specifically refined and purified type of “urine,” which is not of natural (human or animal) origin, but was synthesized artificially (e.g. La Roche-Posay Laboratories http://www.laroche-posay.com/international/beauty/home-h.aspx). Further, purchasing such a product gives you the assurances of FDA and the manufacturer that it is safe for the intended purpose. We offer some of these products, and are able to obtain others, should you desire. Please do not hesitate to consult with any of our specialists.