Maybe this comes as a surprise to some people, but you really shouldn't drink your dog's pee. Or anyone's pee, for that matter.
In a video resurfaced last week on the Viceland show Desus & Mero, a young woman stands on a grassy patch with her cute, incorrectly harnessed dog, holding a plastic cup. "Many of you have asked me how I look so good, how my makeup always looks so perfect, or how I always have this natural glow," she says to the camera. "Here's my secret." As if on cue, her dog turns to a tree, and the woman places the cup beneath the dog's stream of piss. Then, with the swagger of someone about to shotgun a beer, she shakes her hair back and drinks the fresh, warm urine.
"The first time I drank my dog's pee, I was depressed, I was sad, and I had really bad acne," she says after she guzzles the urine, before instructing her viewers that the golden elixir has vitamin A, vitamin E, and "ten grams of calcium."
Unfortunately, our protagonist was misled. While there's considerable evidence that urea, a compound that makes up 50 percent of urine solids, is useful in treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, nothing promising shows that drinking it will do anything for your skin or mental health.
Still, her belief is understandable: the internet is rife with naturopath blogs promoting the ingestion of pee to cure all kinds of maladies. The concept of drinking urine for health reasons has been practiced here and there for thousands of years, but it wasn't until British naturopath John W. Armstrong's landmark work "The Water Of Life: A Treatise On Urine Therapy" was published in 1944 that urine therapy --- also known as urophagia --- became popular in the Western alternative medicine community.
The internet has, of course, turned out to be an exciting breeding ground for wildly misleading information about piss-drinking. A top Google results for "urine therapy" is the Universal Healing Tao, which claims that "drinking urine is a good alternative wherever water is scarce ... If you still cannot bring yourself to drink your own urine pure, mix a dash of it into a glass of fruit juice or mix it with water and honey."
At All-Natural: Natural Healing Source Center, "medical research writer" and "natural health consultant" Martha Christy claims that urine therapy is "powerful ... our own urine is an enormous source of vital nutrients, vitamins, hormones, enzymes and critical antibodies."
In a 2009 video posted to his YouTube channel, UFC commentator and hugely popular podcaster Joe Rogan drinks his own urine, claiming that he's done it "a bunch of times." "I've read so many people online say it's a form of medicine," he says, before the video shifts to a segment of UFC fighter Lyoto Machida explaining that he drinks his "first urine of the day" every morning when he wakes up. And if you search YouTube for "drinking your own p33," you'll find a ton of videos of people drinking and talking about the benefits of urine therapy.
When I spoke to Dr. Lauren Schulz, a urologist at Total Urology Care in New York City, she disputed these urine drinkers' claims that urophagia is a vitamin-rich, effective naturopathy treatment.
"There shouldn't be calcium in the urine," she told me over the phone. "Same with Vitamins A or E --- they shouldn't be there unless a person, or dog, has been taking supplements. If there's high calcium or any other minerals, it crystallizes into stone formation --- and if an animal [or human] has stone formation, it usually follows infection."
While there's bacteria in urine, Dr. Schulz told me, normal pee from a healthy individual isn't especially harmful --- it just isn't beneficial, either. "Urine is waste, and waste is things our body doesn't need," she said.
Even if you're stranded in the desert without an adequate water supply, urine isn't a good substitute. The Army, Marine, Navy, And Air Force Survival Guide places urine as the number one liquid military personnel should not drink if they're desperate for hydration, followed by "fish juice," blood, sea water, and alcohol. "Think about it like drinking ocean water," Jeff Giullian, a Denver-based nephrologist, told Popular Science. "It's going to dehydrate you and do significantly more harm than good."
Urine isn't totally without medical merit, but its limited benefits are topical, not oral. "Drinking the uric acid found in urine does not give any skin benefits. Urea is found in multiple skin preparations and is typically used in a cream for dry skin. It can be very helpful for thick scaly areas especially on feet, knees and elbows; but also generally for dry skin," dermatologist Dr. William Kwan told me. Urea can be synthetically produced, and the National Institute of Health's Open Chemical Database cites multiple studies that support the efficacy of urea in treating psoriasis, eczema, and dry skin. A"comprehensive review of the clinical literature" on urea, published in the Dermatology Online Journal, states that topical urea (like this moisturizer from Eucerin), is an effective treatment for keratosis pilaris, aka chicken skin: those small, painless red bumps many people get on their arms, legs, and faces. In simpler terms, products rich in urea ensure your skin is well-moisturized and protected against external irritants, such as sodium lauryl sulfate.
If you're sad, have acne, or want to guarantee your makeup will always look good, please do not drink anyone's piss, even if it's your beloved dog's. Instead, visit your local pharmacy for an inexpensive moisturizer with urea. It'll be much more effective.