MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

“Don’t take this therapy lightly. Multiple sclerosis, colitis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, hepatitis, hyperactivity, pancreatic insufficiency, psoriasis, eczema, diabetes, herpes, mononucleosis, adrenal failure, allergies and so many other ailments have been relieved through use of this therapy. After you overcome your initial gag response (I know I had one), you will realize that something big is going on, and if you are searching for health, this is an area to investigate. There are numerous reports and double blind studies which go back to the turn of the century supporting the efficacy of using urine for health”. This quote refers to a treatment that I, and probably most readers of this blog, find truly amazing – even in the realm of alternative medicine, we do not often come across a therapy as bizarre as this one: urine therapy.

Urine therapy enthusiasts claim that your own urine administered either externally, internally or both, has a long history of use, that most medical cultures have usefully employed it, that many VIPs swear by it, that it can cure almost all diseases and that it can save lives. What was new to me is the claim that it is supported by numerous double-blind studies.

Such trials would, of course, be entirely feasible; all you need to do is to give one group of patients the experimental treatment, while the other takes a placebo. Recruitment might be a bit of a problem, and the ethics committee might raise one or two eyebrows but, in theory, it certainly seems doable. So where are the “numerous” studies?

A quick, rough and ready Medline-Search found several unfortunate authors with the last name of “URINE”, yet no clinical trials of urine therapy emerged. A little more time-consuming search through my books on alternative medicine revealed nothing that remotely resembled evidence. At this point, I arrived at the conclusion that the clinical trials are either non-existent or extremely well hidden. Further searches of the proponents’ literature, websites etc made me settle for the former explanation.

All this could be entirely irrelevant, perhaps slightly amusing, would it not reveal a pattern which is so painfully common in alternative medicine: anyone can claim anything without fear of any type of retribution, gullible consumers are attracted through the exotic flair, VIP-promotion, long history of use etc. and follow in droves [yes, amazingly, urine therapy seems to have plenty of followers]; consequently, lives are put at risk whenever someone starts truly believing the bogus, irresponsible claims that are being made. 

I do apologise for the rudeness of my words but I really do think THEY ARE TAKING THE PISS! 

2 Responses to Taking the piss

  • Just as amazing/bizarre/ridiculous is the long running saga of Houston-based Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski and his “antineoplaston” treatment using chemicals originally extracted from urine. Despite more than 36 years passing since his first paper on the topic and yet no evidence of benefit shown and despite 61 registered clinical trials where all bar one are unfinished (and that one never published), efforts to close him down have failed due to mistakes and failings of the FDA and Texas Medical Board. Meanwhile he continues to charge huge sums of money to gullible and desperate patients and families for the dubious benefit of being enrolled in one of his so-called clinical trials. Or they can partake of his “personalised gene-targeted” therapy which in reality is the equivalent of describing carpet bombing as a precision strike against a strategic target. The blogger Orac has described this as “personalised gene-targeted therapy for dummies”.
    Burzynski is literally taking the piss!

  • I recall, decades ago (1970s?), the journal World Medicine(I think) had an article on AUT (Auto-Urine Therapy) with exactly the same title as yours and it, too, took the piss out of the ridiculous practice. The then Indian prime minister was a practitioner, I seem to recall. What is depressing is that, decades later, we seem not to have moved on from imbecilic pseudomedicine and, if anything, things have got even worse!

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