It’s an old cliché that says the future is an unwritten book but the pages are steadily filling up. Due to the increasing global population some scientists suggest the only way to beat the impending water crisis is to drink our own urine, or at least process it by water reclamation.
Urophagia is the name given to the act of consuming urine. Humans and animals alike have for centuries, and for many reasons, drank their own urine. Some ancient cultures believed it was a healthy act and used it for healing or cosmetic purposes. Although still practised by some tribal people, Urophagia is more widely referred to as urine therapy and is described as an alternative medicine.
Celebrities such as Rolf Harris have for years advocated Urophagia, stating that urine is an elixir vitae. Bear Grylls and Will Ferrell have also consumed the golden nectar for survival purposes.
There have been cases of miners trapped underground who, without any other source of fluid, have been forced to ingest their own urine in order to survive.
Somalians have also been known to drink urine during extreme droughts.
What are the risks?
Countless credible sources, including the US Army, advise against it as urine is basically a collection of toxins rejected by the body. The biggest risks (apart from halitosis) come from infections in the urethra or secondary consumption of medications and food traces which are also passed through urination. People with sensitive skin can also suffer rashes.
Further dangers lie in the high salt and mineral content of urine. If the urine is sufficiently diluted and not consumed in high quantities, salt won’t be too much of an issue. Ordinarily the dehydrating effect of salt can be reduced by drinking some water, but of course, if predictions of the future are correct there won’t be enough clean water to allow that. Reducing salt intake through improved diet could help.
Urine should absolutely not be drunk when you are already dehydrated as the kidneys (that filter urine) concentrate salt into urine, therefore more salt will be put back into the body causing further, more intense dehydration.
One way to avoid the need to drink our own pee in the future is to be more sensible with our water usage now. Simple things like switching taps off while cleaning our teeth or only putting as much water as we need in the kettle can save a significant amount of clean water, and have a positive impact on the environment.
Does drinking urine sound right to you, would you do it if you had to? Please let us know by leaving a comment.
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