Friday, September 03, 2004



I served an LDS (Mormon) mission in the Taiwan Taipei Mission. As you may know, LDS missionaries work in "companionships," pairs of two (sometimes three) missionaries who pretty much to everything together.

One of my missionary companions was a native Taiwanese. A few weeks after we began working together I found out the reason he had, um, strong breath in the morning: he drank a cup of his own urine every morning. He said that it was an old Chinese folk remedy (for what? I wondered, keeping girls at bay?).

As my mission president at the time, Harvey Horner, had gone to great lengths to impress upon us American missionaries the importance of not being ethnocentric or looking down on Chinese culture, I said nothing on the matter (but my thoughts, as you can see, were pretty ethnocentric anyway).

Why am I bringing this up? Because it looks like my missionary companion was not alone in thinking that a cup of urine is beneficial:
Cup of urine a day keeps ailments at bay

BANGKOK (AFP) - Drinking urine can eliminate sinus trouble, turn grey hair black and even cure cancer, a Thai academic said, citing a study of local Buddhists who engage in the unorthodox practice.

Ratree Cheepudomwit, of the Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine Development Department, said hundreds of urine drinkers attested that consuming a daily cup worked wonders for their overall health and helped slow the ageing process.

She said that in June she queried 250 members of Santi Asoke, a strict indigenous Buddhist movement believed to have thousands of followers, and 204 respondents said they had learned from ancient Buddhist manucripts that drinking one's urine improved health.

"Of the respondents, 87 percent confirmed that it had head-to-toe benefits for them, including for example reduction of dandruff, grey hair, sinus problems and cancer," Ratree told AFP.
I wonder, is my repugnance at this practice just a manifestation of my cultural arrogance? Or is it natural to feel revulsion at the idea of someone drinking a cup of home-brewed Mello Yello every morning?