Jan 122020
 
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Just the thought of getting in touch with or even ingesting urine repels many people. But medical treatment with urine – also called urotherapy – has been a valuable approach in the traditional medicine of many cultures over the last centuries. Usually, endogenous urine is used but animals are also popular sources. The utilization of urine in conventional medicine is not uncommon too. Urokinase for example can be isolated from (human) urine and is an important thrombolytic agent.[1] The drug Premarin®, which is used for hormone treatment, contains estrogens that are extracted from the urine of pregnant mares.[2]

Besides milk, camel (i. e. camelus dromedarius) urine plays a special role for desert dwelling people like the Bedouin. Its use was advised by Prophet Mohammed, thus it has found its way into the Islamic prophetic medicine.[3] Apparently, this body liquid cures diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, digestion problems, impotence, hemorrhoids and flatulence, just to name a few. In 2013, one liter of urine from a virgin camel was worth about 15 € (ca 20 USD) in Yemen, where it is not only used for universal medical treatment but also as a cosmetic product for skin and haircare.[4]

A Moroccan dromedary camel ‒ a favored livestock of Bedouin people.[5] (public domain – wikimedia commons)

Conventional medicine offers a great deal of pharmaceutical cancer treatments which are a blessing and a course for the patients at the same time. Besides the tedious and exhaustive treatment, patients are confronted with severe side-effects including nausea, fatigue, hair loss, inflammation, and a temporary immunodeficiency. The demand for alternatives that are at the same time highly effective, easy to use, mild and in the best case based on renewable resources is therefore very high.

Camel urine has long been claimed to be an efficient cancer treatment but detailed research on its actual potency and effect on human health is scarce. The soothing effect of pure camel urine on digestive problems can sufficiently be explained through its relatively high content of electrolytes like sodium and zinc as found by Al-Attas, in 2009 – a result that certainly might be achieved just as well by drinking a bouillon.[6] Kohrshid et al. were the first to show an inhibiting effect of lyophilized camel urine on carcinoma cells in animals.[7] In 2011, Alhaider et al. found that treatment of murine hepatoma cells (Hepa 1c1c7, i. e. liver cells) with camel urine inhibited the induction of Cyp 1a1 (a well-known cancer-activator) gene expression by TCDD, a potent Cyp 1a1 inducer and known carcinogen. Among virgin, pregnant, and lactating camels, the virgin’s urine was found to be most potent while the urine of pregnant camels showed the least potency.[8] One year later, Khorsihd et al. showed that the potency of camel urine to reduce a specific type of lung cancer cells (A549) is somewhat dependent on the breed (Majaheem urine was found to be more effective than Magateer urine) and the age of the camels. The depletion of the cancer cells ranged between 85‒93% of the starting cell number.[9,10] The bioactive subfraction PMF which is believed to be responsible for these effects is obtained from lyophilized camel urine (in literature frequently called PM701).[10] Clinical trials on the oral uptake of PM701 fractions showed no negative effects on human health so far.[11] Apparently, the urine contains a high amount of antibodies of such a small size, that they can be easily absorbed by the patient’s digestive system.[12] Other experiments also show antimicrobial effects of camel urine on bacteria and fungi.[13] Aiming at the environmentally friendly substitution of synthetic agents which are usually obtained from complex multistep reactions this approach is most honorable. It is exciting to see that a waste product has the potential to cure severe diseases although much more research must be done on this subject to clearly verify the efficacy. After all, urine is an excretion that contains various less beneficial digestive metabolites and even toxins which the body wants to get rid of and indisputable evidence for the efficacy and safety of the PM701 fractions are vital.

For those people who are curious enough to try camel urine for whatever reason but are too disgusted by the idea to drink it pure, a solution might be on the way: there are capsules of PM701, or PMF respectively, but they are not yet available on the market.[10] Another alternative might be camel milk which sounds much more enjoyable and is supposed to be a medicine just as magical as camel urine. It is said to “reduce blood sugar […] solve the problems of autism in children, enhance the immunity of the body…” and many more.[14] Alas, some bad news comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) concerning the use of camel milk and urine: shortly after the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in Saudi Arabia in the year 2012 dromedary camels were found to be zoonotic transmitters, meaning that the virus is rapidly transferred from animals to humans – just as we experience right now with the latest outbreak of a coronavirus (COVID-19).[15] As a consequence the WHO advises to avoid contact with camels or consuming raw camel milk and urine.[16] This surely dampens the enthusiasm the utilize camel urine and we might have to wait a few years more for some groundbreaking results in cancer research.

‒ Tatjana Dänzer

References

[1] “Abstracts of Papers Read”. American Journal of Physiology. Legacy Content., 1952, 171, 704–781.
[2] D. Brügger, „Hormone aus Stutenharn“, pharma-kritik, 2019, Nr. 5/6/1997.
[3] Alhaidar, A., Gader, A. G. M. A., Mousa, S. A., The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2011, 17, 803‒808.
[4] https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/4w7gvn/drinking-camel-urine-in-yemen-fob-000300-v20n8.
[5] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/Dromadaire4478.jpg
[6] Al-Attas, A. S., Arab J. Nucl. Sci. Appl., 2009, 42, 59–67.
[7] Khorshid F., International Journal of Pharmacology, 2008, 4, 443‒451
[8] Alhaidar, A. A.; El Gendy, M. A. M.; Korashy, H. M.; El-Kadi, A. O. S., Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2011, 133, 184–190.
[9] Alghamdi, Z.; Khorshid, F., Journal of Natural Sciences Research, 2012, 2, 9‒16.
[10] Khorshid, F. A., 2009, US 20090297622.
[11] Khorshid, F. A., Alshazly, H., Al Jefery, A., Osman, M. A.-M., Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology 2010, 5, 91‒97.
[12] Hamers-Casterman, C.; Atarhouch, T.; Muyldermans, S.; Robinson, G., Hammers, C.; Songa, E. B.; Bendahman, N. and Hammers, R., Nature, 1993, 363, 446‒448.
[13] Mostafa, M. S.; Dwedar, R. A., British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 2016, 13, 1‒6.
[14] Hammam, A. R. A., Emirates Journal of Food and Agriculture, 2019, 31, 148‒152.
[15] https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES2014.19.16.20781.
[16] https://www.who.int/csr/don/08-january-2020-mers-uae/en/.

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