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Urophagia is the consumption of urine, which is the liquid byproduct of blood filtration in the body. There are various reasons that humans may consume urine. Urine was used in several ancient cultures for various health, healing, and cosmetic purposes, practices which are still used by some people of these cultures today. In Euro-American culture, these practices are known as urine therapy, a form of alternative medicine.
Other reasons for urophagia include attempting survival, if no other potable fluid is available, though numerous credible sources (including the US Army Field Manual) advise against it. Also, some people consume urine as a sexual activity, and members of at least one culture consume urine for ceremonial purposes.
- 1 Health considerations
- 2 Reasons for urophagia
- 3 References
- 4 External links
Consuming one's own urine (or the urine of a healthy person, if participating in urolagnia involving urophagia) is relatively low in risk. Bacterial infection of the urinating person's urethra, or disease in the person urinating may pose a risk. Elements of medications and dietary supplements can be excreted in urine, which can affect the person consuming the urine. Also, if urine comes into contact with the skin, it can cause a rash in sensitive individuals, however urine has been used to heal skin conditions for thousands of years.
Sodium content and dehydration
The main dangers are the high sodium and mineral content. The high sodium content usually does not pose a problem if the urine is sufficiently diluted, and not consumed in mass quantities. The effect of the high sodium may be mitigated by drinking some water after consuming urine. The urine may be diluted if the person drinks some water an hour or so before producing the urine that will be consumed.
Urine should not be drunk when one is dehydrated. The kidneys, which filter the urine, concentrate sodium and other minerals into the urine. Drinking the urine will only make one reingest the minerals that have already been excreted by the kidneys. For the first fifteen minutes after ingestion of any fluid, the thirst seems to be quenched, but in the case of urine and other liquids containing sodium, after the body has absorbed the fluid, the thirst returns, stronger, due to the sodium.
The urethra contains bacteria, hence many urine therapy practitioners use mid-stream urine, in order to allow the first few seconds of urination to wash out the bacteria within the urethra. This is also why many physicians ask for a urine sample mid-stream.
Medication and supplements excreted within urine
Urine of a person who is ill may not be harmful to that person, but could pose a risk if consumed by others. If the person urinating has recently taken vitamin or mineral supplements or medication, elements of these can be excreted in urine, which may affect the drinker.
Flavour, colour, and odour
Since artificial sweeteners are excreted in urine, consuming artificial sweetener (such as in diet soda) before engaging in urophagia can lend a sweet taste to the urine. Consuming asparagus can cause the person's urine to have a distinctive odor.
Reasons for urophagia
The consumption and topical application of urine for health or cosmetic purposes originated in several ancient cultures, including those of India (cow urine being sacred) and China. In Western culture, these practices are referred to as urine therapy.
Urine also had a dual purpose as a cleaning fluid and a teeth-whitener since it contained ammonia.
Numerous survival instructors and guides, including the US Army Field Manual FM 21-76 "Survival", advise against drinking urine for survival. These guides explain that drinking urine tends to worsen, rather than relieve dehydration due to the salts in it, and that urine should not be consumed in a survival situation, even when there is no other fluid available.
However, in some instances people in dire straits have drunk urine and survived. Aron Ralston used the technique when trapped for several days with his arm under a boulder. In 1815, several crew members of the American ship Commerce, including Captain James Riley survived a shipwreck off the coast of Africa by drinking their own urine.  Les Stroud on Survivorman advised against drinking urine, instead producing fresh water from urine using a solar still.
Some individuals consume urine as part of sexual activity. Urophagia may be incorporated into BDSM activities, as a sign of dominance, but sexual activity involving consumption of urine is not necessarily BDSM. Some may also consume urine as part of masturbation.
The Koryak people of Siberia are reported to have used the psychoactive Amanita muscaria mushroom, commonly known as fly agaric, as a ceremonial entheogen. The active alkaloids are unchanged as they pass through the human body, allowing the urine to retain the intoxicating effects of the mushroom: those who drank the urine of those using the mushroom would experience the psychoactive effects themselves. Tribesmen who could not afford the mushrooms drank the urine of those who could; tribesmen drank their own urine in order to prolong the experience; and tribesmen on trips carried their own urine with them. They sometimes concentrated their urine by partially freezing it and ingesting the unfrozen liquid..
- Urinary Tract Infections in Adults, fact sheet at the National Institute of Health, publication no. 06–2097
- Mitchell, S.C. "Food Idiosyncrasies: Beetroot and Asparagus". Drug Metabolism and Disposition. ASPET.
- Tracker Trail - Mother Earth News - Issue #72
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- Five Basic Survival Skills in the Wilderness
- Wilderness Survival: Sea Survival - The Open Sea
- Water Procurement, US Army Field Manual
- Aron Ralston | Outside Online
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- Survivorman - Kalahari Desert
- The plant kingdom and hallucinogens (part I), Richard Evans Schultes, UNODC Bulletin on Narcotics 21 (1969), #3, pp. 3–16.