Diets of pee and poop [10/13/08]

In India, among other places, practitioners of Ayurveda, an ancient Hindu holistic health regimen, drink their urine on a regular basis. They chill it first, and never drink the first 4 oz’s (where they believe the impurities are). This is one of many ancient medicine systems that believe that urine can cure or prevent a wide range of medical problems.

Western medicine – ahem – does not agree, although they do concede that urine is sterile, and not overtly harmful in small doses.

For backpackers, the key words are sterile and liquid. Urine makes an excellent back-country antiseptic wash. Jocks have known for years that peeing on your feet in the shower wards off athlete’s foot.

The liquid part is trickier. Urine can be the hydration source of last resort, but that begins a feedback loop of diminishing returns. You lose a lot of moisture from sweat (and a bit from saliva and tears), so you’ll inevitably pee out less than you take in. And that pee will become saltier and saltier as you go, reducing its’ hydration value. Plus, its icky.

You can mitigate this a bot with a solar still, assuming you have the means and the time. If you are lost in the desert in summer, and sleep through the day and travel at night, this could actually work out well for you.

This is a sound, if desperate strategy to ward off heat stroke until you can stumble to your next water source. Once you’re peeing in your own cup, though, your trip has ceased to be recreational. You have to find water or die. Eventually, the kidneys will stop making urine altogether, which begins the countdown to falling over dead.

On a lighter but related tack, my daughter, while prancing about in her pirate/princess regalia mentioned that if you poop in the yard, the dogs will eat it.

“How do you know that, sweetheart?” I asked.

“Uummm … [ giggle] … the internet.”

Now you know.


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