By John F. Kelly
Art by Danny HellmanThe Associated Press recently reported a story about a group of St. Joseph, Missouri workers who--puzzled as to why their morning coffee had been tasting so foul for the past few weeks--rigged up a secret videocamera to monitor the office coffee nook for possible clues. Sure enough, after viewing the first day's highlights, workers at the Wire Rope of America company discovered the root of the problem--although they may have wished that they hadn't.
The tape clearly showed one of their office mates, 41-year-old Milton Ross, urinating into the coffee pot. Ross was immediately fired from the company--it's amazing that he wasn't murdered on the spot--and later charged with assault. The story goes on to say that local health investigators "didn't believe that any communicable diseases could have been contracted by drinking the spiked coffee." Dean Shepherd, Buchanan County Assistant District Attorney, says that Ross was "trying to injure a co-worker when he used the pot as a urinal."
Perhaps. But it's also possible that Ross was merely attempting to improve the general health of the workers at Wire Rope of America with his controversial prescription. In fact, according to certain alternative health guides, Ross was actually following medicinal directives laid down centuries ago.
In his book, The Water of Life: A Treatise on Urine Therapy (State Mutual Books, NY), John W. Armstrong details numerous case histories of people suffering from gangrene, various types of cancer, diabetes, consumption, disease of the heart valves, Bright's Disease, bladder problems, malaria, fevers, wounds, burns, bronchial asthma, and many other afflictions. While their afflictions vary greatly, all of these patients have one thing in common: They were all cured by drinking their own urine. And as Armstrong says in his book, since Urine Therapy for virtually ailment is virtually the same, no diagnosis is required. All one needs to do is to consume a quantity of urine daily to be set on the road to wellville.
Contrary to the medical opinion that urine contains dead tissue and as such, can not be assimilated into the body, Armstrong maintained that urine actually contains "flesh, blood, and vital tissues in a living solution." Deemed unfit for the British Army during World War I due to consumption, Armstrong consulted a number of doctors in an attempt to strengthen his weakened physical condition. After years of dead-ends with the British medical establishment, Armstrong set out to affect his own cure.
Feeling week and ill, he recalled the Bible proverb, "Drink waters out of thine own cistern," and began a strict regimen of fasting on his own urine and tap water for a period of 45 days. After breaking the fast, he ate cautiously and continued to drink his urine. The treatment proved to be his deliverance, as he gained weight and saw his energy restored and his skin rejuvenated. He became convinced of the healing properties of urine.
And he's not alone. The history of drinking urine for therapeutic purposes dates back at least to the Holy Roman Empire when great urinal troths were erected in the public squares of each city-state for residents to both contribute to, and benefit from. For centuries European Gypsies have known about the curative properties of pee, using cow urine to cure Bright's Disease (several acute and chronic diseases of the kidneys which produce albumin in urine). It has also been reported that the Yogis and Lamas of Tibet reach extended ages by drinking their own urine.
Through the ages there have been literally thousands of champions of this curious practice: In the early 1800s, a book titled One Thousand Notable Things describes the use of urine to cure scurvy, relieve skin itching, cleanse wounds, and many other treatments. An 18th century French dentist praised urine as a valuable mouthwash. In England during the 1860-70s, the drinking of one's own urine was a common cure for jaundice. In more modern times, the Alaskan Eskimos have used urine as an antiseptic to treat wounds.
Some Modern CasesHere in New York City, alternative health guru Gary Null has devoted several segments of his popular radio program on WBAI (99.5 FM, 12 noon, Monday through Friday) to extolling the benefits of the urine cure. One's urine, Null explained during a program broadcast in October, 1992, should be stored in a jug in the refrigerator and then consumed while mixed with orange juice to mask the taste. He went on to say that the first few days of urine therapy often made patients extremely ill, but added that they recovered once the body adjusted to the treatment. Null then interviewed a number of patients who verified the healing powers of urine therapy, including one woman who began drinking her urine after being diagnosed for ovarian cancer. After a few weeks of the urine cure, the woman says she passed a stone "the size of a lemon" while urinating one morning and her health has improved greatly ever since.
According to Dr. Beatrice Bartnett in her pamphlet, Urine-Therapy: It May Save Your Life, morning urine is the richest and best urine to drink. This is partially due to the greater level of hormonal secretion that takes place in the late night hours when the body is totally relaxed and repairing itself. She offers some further advice for the novice uring drinker: "Saying 'thank you' to your body just before drinking urine will help you to realize the value of this golden liquid. Your body produced it for you. Celebrate life and put the urine into a beautiful wine glass. After all, it is the most valuable water on earth."
While many people are aware that Gandhi drank his urine, few know that leather-clad rocker Jim Morrison (who, like Gandhi, had an unwatchable movie made of his life) began the practice of drinking his urine while on an LSD-induced spiritual quest in the Mojave Desert. And like Gandhi, Morrison is now dead. As is John Lennon, another reputed fan of urine therapy. In fact, an entire legion of herion-addicted, long-haired rock and rollers are said to have tried Urine Therapy in the early 1970s following Keith Richards (unsuccessful) experimentations with the cure. One of the more famous modern day cases involves movie star Steve McQueen, who, it is said, in the last stages of cancer, survived solely on a diet of urine and boiled alligator skin prescribed by his Mexican doctors.
Worse AlternativesWhile the thought of drinking piss is surely repulsive enough to have made many people stop reading this article long ago, those that have made it this far should take comfort in the fact that things could actually be far worse.
The standard authority for drugs in Europe until the end of the eighteenth century was Lamery's Dictionnaire Universelle des Drogues. One of the late editions, published in 1759, contains a list of remedies under "Homo." It explains: "All parts of man, his excrescences and excrements, contain oil and the sals volatile, combined with phlegm and earth..." The book recommends the drinking of two or three glasses of urine each morning to cure gout, to relieve obstructions of the bowels, and to dispel hysterical vapors. It also includes the following cures: Burning hair to counteract vapors; the saliva of a fasting young man to cure bites of reptiles and mad dogs; ear wax, well chewed, for the cure of whitlows [whatever that is]; powdered toe- and finger--nail pairings, taken with wine, as a good emetic; woman's milk for inflamed eyes.
Worse yet, it prescribes human dung, eaten after it's dried out, as a cure for epilepsy, adding that it can also be eaten fresh as a cure for quinsies or anthrax. While today there are many Freudian explanations as to why humans are attracted to the consumption of feces (consider the alleged case of actor Jack Klugman, for illustration), for centuries it was a common prescription for a variety of ailments. Dried white dog turds were stocked by the druggists of the 1600s, pigeon droppings were used to "draw the humors out," and pleurisy was cured by a drink made with stallion manure.
We will draw this analysis to a close with a description of our favorite arcane medical treatment--oil of puppies! This concoction involved cutting up and boiling two newly born puppies with earthworms, in oil. The result was used to treat paralysis and was also used as a common nerve tonic--it was said to have had a calming effect on all those who drank it.
Perhaps the workers of Wire Rope of America would have been less upset if Milton Ross had been secretly spiking their morning coffee with oil of puppies, rather than his urine.
Recycling Fever Reaches New Lows"Utica, Michigan - Realising it is flushing potential profits down the drain, an enterprising young company has come up with a way to trap medically powerful proteins from urine. Enzymes of America has designed a special filter that collects important urine proteins, and these filters have been installed in all of the men's urinals in the 10,000 portable outhouses owned by the Porta-John company, a subsidiary of Enzymes of America.
"Urine is known to contain minute amounts of proteins made by the body, including medically important ones such as growth hormone and insulin. There is a $500-million-a-year market for these kinds of urine ingredients.
"This summer, Enzymes of America plans to market its first major urine product called urokinase, an enzyme that dissolves blood clots and is used to treat victims of heart attacks. The company has contracts to supply the urine enzyme to Sandoz, Merrell Dow and other major pharmaceutical companies. Ironically, this enterprise evolved from Porta-John's attempt to get rid of urine proteins-a major source of odour in portable toilets.
"When the president of Porta-John began consulting with scientists about a urine filtration system, one told him he was sitting on a gold mine.
"The idea of recycling urine is not new, however. 'We thought about this,' says Ian Whitcome of Amgen, a Los Angeles biotechnology firm, 'but realised we'd need thousands and thousands of litres of urine.'
"Porta-John and Enzymes of America solved that problem. The 14 million gallons flowing annually into Porta-John's privies contain about four-and-a-half pounds of urokinase alone. That's enough to unclog 260,000 coronary arteries." (Hippocrates magazine, May/June 1988)
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