Your Suggestions for Urine—Please Don’t Try This at Home

portable outhouses picture
Photograph by Alan Schein, Corbis

Last week, I wrote a post about some strange new uses for urine. It turns out, I had only scratched the surface.

Many of you readers (thanks for your input!) shared some other uses for urine in the comments section, so the team here at Nat Geo thought it would be interesting to look into them in more detail.

Armed with Google, some medical knowledge, and a little common sense, I’ve taken a look at some of your ideas. I reached out to some kidney experts, including Lilach Lerman of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She said in an email that she had never heard of such creative uses for urine, so she couldn’t say anything about whether they might work.

Peeing on a jellyfish sting will make it feel better and heal faster.

It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but the science appears to be against those looking for some quick relief from a painful jellyfish sting. In fact, medical experts say that urinating on the injury will actually make it worse, since diluted urine will tell the barb to release more of its poison.

jellyfish sign
Urine isn’t an effective treatment for jellyfish stings. Photograph by Pete Karas, Getty Images

Your best bet, according to an article in Scientific American, is to rinse the injury with saltwater and take an over-the-counter painkiller to lessen the sting.

Urine is an effective shampoo and face cleaner.

Advocates of this technique claim that using urine to clean your skin and hair will “clean away dirt and oils from your skin.” Other things that also do this: soap and water.

While anecdotal reports of hair regrowth and skin cleansing after using urine are fairly common on the Internet, there haven’t been any formal scientific studies that show urine works any better or worse than anything else available. It’s also unclear whether there might be any health risks to using urine in this method.

Urine can stop seizures.

People experiencing tonic-clonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal seizures) frequently lose control of their bladders and bowels. There is no evidence, however, that drinking urine can treat or prevent a seizure. If someone you know is having a seizure and you’re unsure what to do, call 911 or seek emergency help.

Drinking your own urine each day can improve your health.

It’s known as “urine therapy” and it’s been a popular folk remedy in many cultures throughout the centuries. Although the urine produced in the kidneys is generally sterile, it can pick up some harmful microbes as it leaves the body. One study found large numbers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the urine consumed as a health remedy in a rural community in Africa.

(Watch a National Geographic video about people who drink cow urine for a long and happy life.)

Far from being beneficial, this golden juice may actually be harmful to your health.

Urine can treat an eye infection.

According to Stanford University ophthalmologist Theodore Leng, this is nothing but myth, a possibly dangerous one given the potential for microbial contamination. Writes Leng on his blog:

I also advise against putting your own urine or anyone else’s urine into your eye to treat anything. At best, you’ll end up with an irritated eye. At worst, you will get a nasty eye infection with a STD like gonorrhea or chlamydia. Yes, this is not only possible, but it happens all the time. In one year, I think I treated at least five people who had STD eye infections from putting urine into the eye.

Although I’d love to hear someone explain to their partner how they got clap of the eyeball…

Researchers have found many inventive and quirky ways to use urine, but DIY urine treatments appear ineffective at best and harmful at worst. It’s best to leave these things in the hands of professionals.

Other than medical remedies, what other uses have you found for urine?

Carrie is a freelance science writer living in Virginia. When she's not writing about cool critters, she's spending time outside, drinking coffee, or knitting. You can visit her website at http://www.carriearnold.com

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