Urophagia is the consumption of urine, which is the liquid by-product 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. Urine therapy is a form of alternative medicine. Thai people had been practicing urophagia for a long time.
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.
Another use is occasionally found in the Middle East: tasting urine from a female camel to find if the camel is pregnant.
Reasons for urophagia
Some survival instructors and guides, including the US Army Field Manual FM 21-76 "Survival", advise against drinking urine for survival. These guides state 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.
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Basic physiology suggests that the urine produced in the first hours or day after being cut off from fluid supplies may be a useful source of fluid. Under conditions of dehydration, the kidneys need only 0.5 L of water per 24 h to excrete the 'waste' i.e. the salts and organic material that needs to be removed from the blood. Under normal conditions a healthy adult will produce some 2 L of urine, of which 1.5 L can be considered 'free water' while the other 0.5 L is needed to remove waste. Thus theoretically, drinking one of L normal human urine is equivalent to drinking 0.75 L of water. As dehydration proceeds, urine will become more concentrated and approach the limit of 0.5 L/24h where it is no longer useful as a 'beverage.'. However this theory neglects to include the need for additional water in order to reprocess the removed waste contained in the urine, which includes a substantial amount salt.
Some people in dire straits have drunk urine, but it's unclear if this actually helped or hindered their situation. Famously Aron Ralston used the technique when trapped for several days with his arm under a boulder.
Urophagia in Muslim world
In recent times researchers in Saudi Arabia claimed to have observed an effect of camel urine against cancer. However, in July 2015 WHO warned against drinking camel urine because of a danger of MERS infection.
Urophagia in sport
Some sports personalities have admitted to taking part in urophagia. Mexican boxer Juan Manuel Márquez confessed to drinking his own urine while training for a fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Luke Cummo, a mixed martial arts fighter, is on record as supporting the benefits of urophagia, saying that it contained minerals, hormones and other substances which "bind moisture to protein"
Lyoto Machida, a well-known Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter also admitted to drinking urine after gaining advice from his father to cure a cough. His father, Yoshizo Machida, claims that urine has medicinal properties and by ingesting it, you can flush out your system, assist with food digestion as well as prevent the build-up of harmful bacteria.
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- Water Procurement, US Army Field Manual
- Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology Twenty-Third Edition 2010, Table 38-7
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- "WHO - Frequently Asked Questions on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS‐CoV)". Retrieved 26 May 2016.
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- Karsten, Lucy (August 22, 2015) "A Brief History of Athletes Drinking their Own Urine" The Guardian
||This article needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (May 2013)|