FEB 28, 2018 7:48 AM PST

The Medicines Harvested From Pee

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

There have been a lot of jokes about the pee-drinking habits of Bear Grylls. But it turns out that our urine does contain some valuable chemicals.

Sure, urine is mostly water, then there's a bit of a chemical called urea in there, and some ions that our body has disposed of. But the small amount left over carries some interesting chemicals in it. Apparently, there's even a tiny amount of stem cells in there.

Hear more about the stuff we excrete in our urine. For example, penicillin once had to be recycled from the urine of patients that were using it. Because of a severe shortage, it had to be harvested for reuse. While we could do that for other chemicals, it makes more sense to make the stuff, as companies started doing with the antibiotic.

Hormones are another molecule that have been taken from human urine. Surprisingly, even when huge quantities of urine were needed to generate enough of the hormone for use in a patient, society delivered. Human ingenuity has led to some interesting solutions for problems we face, as these stories attest to. It is still not advisable to drink your own urine, however.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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