Celts in the Iberian peninsula gargled it to whiten their teeth about 50 years before Christ; amaroli is a Sanskrit word that refers to urine therapy, which in ancient Ayurvedic practice meant imbibing urine in the morning, mid stream; Proverbs 5:15 is thought to be in support of the act (“Drink waters from thy own cistern, flowing water from thy own well”); and J.D. Salinger famously sipped his own, as did the former prime minister of India, Morarji Desai, who even appeared on 60 Minutes to defend his habit.
Still, drinking your urine has no known health benefit. Urine is at least 95 percent water, but the remaining 5 percent is not very good for you—that’s why your body is getting rid of it. It carries excess electrolytes, such as chloride, sodium and potassium (urine also carries small traces of excess toxins in the form of acids from your kidney, but you’d need to drink a lot for that to do damage). Electrolytes enable some of our cells to conduct electricity, but too much sodium draws water out of our cells, dehydrating us, and too much potassium leads to a heart attack. “Think about it like drinking ocean water,” says Jeff Giullian, a nephrologist (kidney doctor) at South Denver Nephrology Associates in Colorado. “It’s going to dehydrate you and do significantly more harm than good.”