18 Health Treatments that Killed People Faster than the Problems they Were Trying to Prevent

Constantine the African examines his patients’ urine; author and date unknown. Wikimedia Commons.

18. From being used as a disinfectant to teeth whitening, urine was frequently applied medicinally by ancient peoples and rubbed the fluid on the gums and skin of unfortunate patients who would later contract diseases.

Despite the associated unpleasant smell that comes with the fluid, urine has been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. Ancient Romans were known to use human urine as an early method for teeth whitening, resulting in the Emperors Nero and Vespasian instituting an unpopular tax on the Roman urine industry. Continuing into the 8th century, Islamic scholar Abu Yusuf recommended the use of camel urine to treat inexact medical concerns, whilst human urine is found in traditional folk cures from Nigeria to Mexico. Today, with the exception of Madonna, who used urine, allegedly, to cure athlete’s foot, medical practitioners are few.

Although healthy urine is not toxic, it nonetheless contains bodily compounds that have been purged by the body due to their undesirability. Urine can prove highly damaging to exposed tissue over time, in particular skin and eyes, whilst the condition and safety of the fluid deteriorates as it loses freshness. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, urine expelled from the body is not actually sterile. Acquiring bacterial cells as it passes through the urethra, consuming another person’s urine is highly infectious and harmful to one’s health in a similar manner as drinking the unprocessed blood of another human in contrast to one’s own.