In the following discussions we intend to present a scientific, objective view of amaroli - assessing all the points on the kidney, urine and its uses - in order to approach the subject with adequate understanding and a more balanced perspective. Much of this material has been collated from the seminar on amaroli held at the Bihar School of Yoga, IYFM Research Coordinating Center, in March 1978. The panel included Dr. Swami Shankardevananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd); Dr. Swami Vivekananda Saraswati, MB, BS (Syd), MANZCP, DPM; and Swami Buddhananda Saraswati, BA, Dip. Ac. (HK & Aust), DNMN, all of whom have had experience with amaroli. In the text they are referred to as Dr. S; Dr. V; and Sw. B respectively. Many of the swamis and visitors to the ashram who participated in the seminar also contributed their experiences, some of which have been recorded here. Other material was collated from various scriptures, books and magazines.
Dr. S: Before we can understand how amaroli works we must know what urine really is. Therefore, we need an objective, discriminating and slightly skeptical view if we are to gain anything which approximates the truth, or at least a working hypothesis that is practical. We have to gain a better perspective and for this we will need to use the tools of science and intuition.
Now that the anatomy and physiology have been elucidated, we can see that urine is the end product of a long and complex process. We know that the blood is filtered and that a large proportion of the filtered fluid is reabsorbed. An average breakdown would look something like this:
|Components of Urine||Filtered by Nephron||Excreted in Urine|
|water||150 litres per day||1.5 litres per day|
|salt||1200 grams per day||15 grams per day|
|glucose||170 grams per day||nil|
|urea||50 grams per day||30 grams per day|
|bicarbonate||150 grams per day||0.1 grams per day|
Cells and large molecules, such as large proteins, are not filtered. Normal urine has the following features:
Its main constituents are:
In terms of determining the effects of amaroli, it seems we will need sophisticated experiments to measure accurately the minute quantities of substances in the urine. One of the claims of those people who are pro-amaroli is that these substances have a beneficial effect on our bodies, minds and health in general. I suppose that up to now, no one has really felt the need to investigate this area, but in order to prove or disprove amaroli such a study is required.
Sw. B: Because urine was considered worthless, a waste, it was never really fully investigated. Of course, doctors look in it to see if there is blood, pus, glucose, protein or bile. They also occasionally use it as a mirror, as an index of overall health. For example, they may wish to know if sodium is abnormally high or low, or if we are excreting certain chemicals, On the whole though, we have not examined the sea of urine to its depths, and we are still ignorant of its composition. Perhaps psychological factors, such as revulsion, have played a part in this.
There are more reports available today on some of the things we are finding in urine, some of which appear to be of therapeutic value. I remember reading somewhere that in the mid-1960's, Nobel Laureat Albert Szent Gyorgi - who also discovered vitamin C - isolated a substance called 3-methyl glyoxal horn urine. This is said to be able to destroy cancer cells and I believe that in America the National Academy of Sciences is researching this chemical. In April 1966, the American Society for Experimental Biology in Atlantic City, gave an account of research conducted on a substance called directin. Investigators found that when this substance, derived from urine, was put onto cancer cells, they aligned themselves end to end in straight rows. This is a positive and progressive sign, compared to the normal disordered, chaotic growth of cancer cells, which sometimes results in very haphazard cell arrangements.
This work does not mean that amaroli cures cancer, it just shows that cancer cells actually react to the presence of some new chemical in urine. I merely present this information today to show how so little research has been done on amaroli.
The kidneys manufacture certain substances which may he found in urine such as enzymes to activate vitamin D, or even vitamin D itself. Therefore, one can postulate the use of urine in rickets and other vitamin D deficiency diseases. Kidneys also produce a hormone called renin, whose function it is to maintain the body's vascular tone and thereby influence blood pressure. I have here a comment by Dr. Kuruvilla on the issue of prostaglandins, which have been used for abortions and contraception:
"Instead of expensive and potentially harmful oral birth control pills, all that one may need to do is to gulp auto-urine the night after (intercourse)... Prostaglandins also lower blood pressure. Hence auto-urine therapy can also be used for the treatment of hypertension."*1
Kuruvilla also makes reference to the fact that the kidneys are a rich source of adenyl cyclase, which plays a part in many body reactions.
All this is in the realm of the hypothetical yet it does lead one along some interesting lines of thought. Of course, just because the kidneys produce these hormones and so on does not mean that they appear in the urine in a reusable form. Even if they did, it does not necessarily follow that amaroli works on this basis.
Dr. S: Another chemical said to be found in urine is urokinase, which at present is being researched in the USA, although I have not yet seen detailed results of such work. It is said to prevent blood clot formation and thus to be of value in preventing heart attacks, thrombophlebitis and blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
Karlekar, in Auto-Urine Curt, cites some references to the work that was done on urokinase. These are old reports and I haven't seen any later work on the subject. Science Digest, July 1958:
"Normal human urine has been found to contain a. powerful artery dilating agent resembling nitroglycerine in its ability to increase the coronary blood flow to the cardiac muscle. It is used for the relief of angina pectoris."*2
Press Report, San Francisco (USA), October 24, 1967 A.P.
"An extract from human urine shows great promise for treatment of certain deadly diseases caused by formation of blood clots, research physicians said at the Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association. The extract, called 'urokinase' activates substances in the bloodstream that dissolve clots. Experience has been obtained with about 200 patients with pulmonary embolism, the most common of serious lung diseases, Dr. Sherry pointed out."*3
Doctors in the USA claim that urokinase is an enzyme found in minute quantities in healthy urine. It was discovered in 1957 and during the 1960's subsequent research showed it to be effective in treating blood clots. Sherry, while Chairman of Temple University Health Science Center, tested urokinase by giving it to patients with pulmonary embolism. His preliminary finding on 160 patients, of whom 82 were given urokinase for 12 hours while the others received conventional anti-coagulant, was that urokinase had a faster mode of action. More research is being done to follow this up.
The dose of the enzyme used in therapy is much greater than that found in urine, and this large dosage is said to have considerable side effects, such as excessive bleeding and bruising. The application of urokinase in therapy is thus still very much in the experimental stage.
It would be interesting to see if the daily intake of urine raises the level of urokinase to a high enough level to control blood clot formation but not so high as to cause bleeding.
Urokinase is the only enzyme I have heard of in urine but there are many hormones.
Does anyone know more about the hormonal content of urine?
Dr. V: To my knowledge, and I don't really have accurate data at my fingertips at present, most hormones, many enzymes and all the vitamins pass out in the urine - if not in their original form, then perhaps as a metabolic by product.
The kidneys filter out small molecules with a molecular weight of less than 70,000 and keep larger structures. Some of these filtered products must be reabsorbed and some must escape. All the vitamins are small molecules, so any excess in the body is filtered out through the urine. Many enzymes are also small, but not so many would leave the body because they are usually manufactured to meet a specific need and no more. Hormones are also manufactured in minute quantities, but these leave the body in the urine, as far as we know at present.
The following table lists those hormones which I believe must be present in the urine at some time or another, and gives a little information on each. It is a hypothetical chart only and I would be happy if anyone could prove me wrong on any point.
From the pituitary gland Growth hormone - molecular weight (mw) 45,000; found mainly in the urine of children.
Adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH) - mw 4,500; stimulates the adrenal cortex to make cortisone.
Thyrotropin (TSH) - mw 28,000; stimulates the thyroid gland and controls the energy turnover in the body.
Leutenizing hormone (LH) - stimulates sex hormone production.
Folical stimulating hormone (FSH) - as for LH, and plays a major part in the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
From the thyroid and parathyroid glands
Thyroxin - a smallish molecule which directly adjusts the energy level of the body.
Parathyroid hormone - mw 8,500; controls calcium metabolism.
From the adrenal cortex
All the adrenal hormones are of small molecular weight, and so are potentially present in urine. They include:
Many of these hormones are inactivated in the liver and then excreted in the urine together with small amounts of the original molecule.
Androgens - testosterone, etc., predominantly in males. Progesterone & estrogen - predominantly in females; responsible for the female fertility cycle.
From the pancreas
Insulin - a small protein of 51 amino acids, probably found only in minute quantities in the urine. This is the hormone essential for sugar digestion and assimilation, absent or defective in cases of diabetes mellitus.
These include chemicals such as histamine and serotonin which are hormones commonly found in the nervous system.
Histamine— small molecule well known for causing hay fever, eczema and some forms of asthma in predisposed people. Found in urine in the minute dose of 20 micrograms (free histamine) and 125 micrograms of metabolised histamine per day.
Serotonin— a small molecule present in the dose of 0.1 to 1.0 micrograms per millilitre.
The part played by these hormones in amaroli is difficult to decide. We must remember that urine is drunk and therefore has to pass through the digestive process. Most hormones are proteins, such as insulin, growth hormone, AGTH, TSH, LH, FSH and parathyroid hormone, and would probably be broken down by the hydrochloric acid and pepsin in the stomach, the trypsin and the chymotrypsin of the duodenum, and the peptidases of the small intestine. This would leave only amino acids with no remaining hormonal effect. What the digestive juices do to the other molecules is a matter that we must discover through further research and analysis.
Dr. S: Before we discuss the implications of these facts we must go further into the other substances contained in urine
Dr. V: In the normal state we seem to have covered most things, but we have not discussed what can happen when we are sick. Besides the variation between sickness and health, there is an incredible variability and range of contents depending on diet and psychological and emotional states.
Another area to cover is what happens when we start yogic or spiritual practices. In certain conditions of body and mind valuable substances are lost, and in other cases they are retained. For example, we can lose bile, blood, sugar and protein in urine, or it may come to contain pus. Certain cancer causing substances, as well as cancer destroying agents, may also be found.
It is very common practice among doctors, from ancient times to the present, to make a gross examination of the urine in order to determine the state of health. The general colour is a rough guide to the urine contents:
Sw. B: Occasionally, I have noticed a cloudy whiteness in my urine, especially if it is old, as is used in compresses and for massage. I don't believe that it is pus because I had no signs of kidney infection, but other people have told me it is probably some sort of toxin or poison. Is this so, and if so, would it support the need for midstream urine?
Dr. V: Many people confuse this issue, stating that when urine settles we can see a toxic precipitate forming. The most common form of precipitate is one of harmless calcium salts, formed when the urea breaks down to ammonia after a period of time. The solution then becomes more alkaline so that calcium precipitates out of the solution, making the urine look cloudy. These are, then, definitely not toxic poisons. The fact that traditional theory states that urine should stand seven days or more, and sometimes in the sun, would tend to make the urine more alkaline, and may even allow ammonia to evaporate as well. This cloudy urine, of course, must be differentiated from pus-filled urine found in infections. Another possibility is that a little prostatic fluid finds its way into the urine.
Sw. B: Then the use of an alkaline solution would tend to agree with natural therapists who use other alkaline substances, such as vegetable and fruit juice, to counter the excess acidity found in many diseases - arthritis, for example. However, it has been my experience that naturopaths are strongly averse to the use of urine. They say it is a waste product, and on this point agree with many scientists, doctors and religious believers.
Dr. S: I wonder how many of the beliefs for and against amaroli develop without any rational basis or reference to reality. We human beings tend to believe what we want to believe, rather than the truth. Perhaps we are influenced by friends, our peer group, or by advertising. We stick to our opinions, defending them to the end. If we are to scientifically examine the validity of amaroli, we must accumulate each and every fact for and against the use of urine. We must then correlate all these facts, weighing the pros and cons and then decide a possible line on which to theorize and experiment.
The two areas we should consider at this point are the effect of mind and diet on urine and its composition. For example, we know that our mental state affects the nerve-endocrine balance. When we are anxious we secrete more adrenal hormones and thus more adrenaline is secreted in the urine. Similarly, if we are excited we secrete more thyroid hormone and thus more of this will be found in the urine.
Researchers are stating that the mind is the most important factor in our lives, determining our every act and thought and subsequent lifestyle. More than 85% of disease has a significant mental component. So we must determine the effects of mind in amaroli according to two criteria:
In the first instance, the mind affects the body and alters the constituents of the urine. The different aspects of mind- calm, anxious, neurotic or psychotic - and the various states of consciousness, must have effects on the body and thus on the ratio and nature of substances secreted in the urine.
There is a belief, for example, that in high states of consciousness approximating enlightenment, new chemicals are secreted in the body. Some devotees believe that the urine of saints is a sacred and holy thing, and indeed they report that the urine actually tastes and smells of various scents and flavours, such as those of sandalwood, rose, lotus, etc. Of course, the psychological aspect plays an enormous role in this belief. Still, we do hear of the occasional objective report by an outside observer suggesting some change in the urine composition of highly developed souls.
Dr. V: The psychological aspects of amaroli are so vast that we may never really sort out this component and fully understand it. The same applies to diet. The variations are infinite.
Dr. S: According to many supporters of amaroli, it is important to maintain a strict vegetarian diet for the duration of amaroli. This means abstinence from all milk products as well as meat and other animal foods. This regulation applies especially to long therapies with an occasional fast, and to those where a lot of urine is being taken.
Dr. V: Urine contains urea and later, ammonia which are the end result of protein metabolism and are toxic in certain dosages. People who are eating a lot of meat should be careful on this point, especially if their kidneys are not in good shape. This could explain why most regimes using urine are combined with a low protein, vegetarian diet, or with fasting. Heavy meat eaters are found to have high levels of urea, nitrogenous wastes, uric acids, indoles and other definitely toxic wastes. This is why a meat eater's urine smells so strong, whereas the urine from a vegetarian diet doesn't smell or taste offensive, especially if it is low in salt. I would imagine that the level of toxic substances in the urine while fasting or on a low protein diet is low enough to render their toxic effect negligible, on a short term basis at least. To determine whether a prolonged urine intake would be harmful will require further experiments.
We know that a high meat or high protein diet creates acid urine, whereas a vegetarian or low protein diet gives alkaline urine. As we have already mentioned, naturopathy and many natural healing disciplines emphasize the need for alkaline food and drink to maintain health and cure disease. If amaroli works, this alkaline diet factor may be one of the factors involved in its efficacy. It would explain, for example, the use of amaroli in arthritis, gout and other conditions where the joints have excessive amounts of acid.
Sw. B: If urine is extracted from the blood, can it have poisons in it? Can the body manufacture poisons if we don't put any poisons into it?
Dr. V: Yes, it is possible to make very potent substances from relatively innocuous ones, for example, from meat and proteins. Urine concentrates many of the breakdown products of metabolism, so we need tests to determine the exact composition of urine in varying conditions and then the effects of these substances on the body. I think, also, that we should not take drugs and urine at the same time, in order to avoid building up dangerous levels of that drug.
Dr. S: All the substances being passed out in the urine depend on the substances taken in through the month and other channels. This is obvious. High milk intake would increase the output of calcium; high salt intake will give salty urine; high protein will give a lot of ammonia and very strong urine. The intake of tobacco, alcohol and various drugs must also influence the contents of the urine, but their exact influence remains to be measured. Scientific research and personal experience will map out guidelines for diet in amaroli, if it proves itself worth the effort.
The ancient yogis seem to have had a highly refined science of diet, natural medicines and urine intake, if we are to trust the scriptures handed down from the past.
The use of various diets is mentioned in the Damara Tantra. Metals, ayurvedic medicines, various foods, roots, seeds, salts and so on are to be mixed with, or taken in conjunction with urine. For example, the correct preparation of sulphur and urine is said to bestow longevity; dry ginger followed by urine removes disease; a mixture of urine, honey and sugar is said to cure disease and increase the brain capacity and intelligence.
A scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying these herbal and other life promoting substances has not been worked out yet. The process may involve combinations of elements in urine and the added substance, or it may be a separate but additive effect of each substance on the body. This field needs further investigation.
In terms of dietary advice and restrictions for amaroli, the Damara Tantra makes the following recommendations:
An ashram diet fits the description of the ideal diet well and has proved to be effective in our experience. Ashram meals consist of chapatti, rice, boiled vegetables, a small amount of dal (grams and lentils), occasional fruit and raw vegetables. With this basic diet, urine has a pleasant flavour and when amaroli is started, a saltless diet makes the urine even more palatable. Amendments are made according to individual needs. For example, more fruit and boiled water are needed to treat hepatitis. This will dilute the urine and reduce the bitter taste produced by the bile. Standards will have to be devised and constantly revised in order to better approximate the ideal formulae for the alchemy of amaroli.