The golden question: Is urine therapy an effective beauty hack for smooth skin?

  • Urine therapy was reportedly used as a treatment for medical ailments among the Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, Aztecs and Romans.
  • Proponents say it is good for the skin, heals diseases and promotes well-being.
  • But experts say there is no scientific evidence showing that drinking urine or engaging in any other urine therapy has benefits.

An adult produces around 1.5 litres of urine a day, but not all urine ends up in the toilet – some people collect and drink it, rub it against their skin, use it as eye drops, or inject it into their muscles: enter urine therapy.

It’s an ancient tradition that was believed to treat everything from acne to cancer. But this therapy – also known as urophagia or urotherapy – only gained popularity in the west (as a natural alternative to modern medicine) in the late 90s.

In a 2010 published article, Loeffler Jutta, from University College London, asked if urine was “the Golden Fountain” and the “miracle drug no one told you about”. She wrote:

Drinking or local application of human or animal urine for medicinal purposes has been practised all over the world for millennia. Documented prescriptions in Europe originate from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome … The almost 100 000 hits of the search for “urine therapy” on Google … are an indicator that drinking “waters out of thine own cistern” is still, or again, rather popular today.

The practice has also entered the skincare space as a beauty hack for smooth skin. So how effective is it? Deutsche Welle (DW) takes a look.

No data or evidence

Speaking to DW, Dr Uwe Schwichtenberg, a German-based dermatologist, said there is no data or evidence to suggest that urine can cure diseases. “Absolutely nothing has been proven,” said Schwichtenberg.

READ MORE | Your urine is a powerful indicator of your health – here’s what to look for

Ultimately, urine is an excretion product, added Dr Ilker-Akgun Aydin, a general practitioner. In other words, it is 95% water, and the rest is urea (2%), salt, hormones and colourants – all waste products the body no longer needs and wants to get rid of.

He echoed Schwichtenberg’s comments about there being no studies or facts suggesting it can be good for you. He added:

It’s a myth that’s been around for a long time – for thousands of years, in fact, but there is no research that proves any real health benefits.

As for using urine cosmetically to smoothen skin, Aydin explains there are products that contain urea but that these are used in a processed form in creams or ointments, for example. “It is said to help against itching and inflammation [and] some people say it helps,” he said.

READ MORE | Could drinking your own urine really be the key to looking and feeling good? This man seems to think so!

In an article for The Conversation, two researchers from Bond University, Australia, wrote:

“Urine therapy (or urotherapy) is a longstanding practice based on the concept that urine can be drunk, bathed in, or otherwise applied to bring good health or even heal the body of certain ailments … But is there any evidence urine therapy works? To cut to the chase, no. Urine is waste and should be left excreted from the body.”

As Healthline explains, the urea used in skincare products, which can contain anywhere from about 2% to 40% urea, is made synthetically in a laboratory, although urea is also naturally found on your skin and is excreted in urine, so it’s not surprising that people may wonder if the urea in cosmetic comes from urine.

READ MORE | 7 of the most bizarre medical treatments

The Bond University researchers also explain that urea is a safe organic compound, and that the urea-based formulations found in skin and nail-softening lotions acts as an effective moisturiser. However, the concentration of urea present in urine is simply too low to offer any therapeutic benefit.

The one thing that is absolutely clear is that urotherapy cannot cure diseases, and there is nothing to suggest that drinking it is beneficial, especially when there are many other things that taste better, are less disgusting, and good for you, says DW.

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