A piss-poor history of urine

I’m going to try not to use the P word too much in this post, as tempting as it is as that would be taking the Pee but urine has actually had a long history of practical uses especially in medicine.

None other than Pliny the Elder back in Rome  recommended fresh urine for the treatment of “sores, burns, affections of the anus, chaps and scorpion stings”, while stale urine mixed with ash could be rubbed on your baby for what we would now call nappy rash.

In early-modern Europe urine went on to have even more uses with  pioneering French surgeon Ambroise Paré noting that itching eye-lids could be washed in the patient’s urine provided that it had been kept “all night in a barber’s basin” first. The father of chemistry, Robert Boyle, advised certain patients to drink every morning “a moderate draught of their own urine”, preferably while “tis yet warm”.  He also performed numerous experiments with human blood and urine including using both as invisible inks and noted how the latter was highly valued by dyers;

As disgusting as this might sound,  Thomas Willis who was then the richest doctor in England instructed a young lady to drink her own warm urine against “extreme sourness” in her throat.


Thomas Vicary

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
This entry was posted in Funny & Humour, history, Life, WW1 and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to A piss-poor history of urine

  1. Ann Kelcey says:

    …and then of course there’s the use of urine on compost heaps, and bathing ones feet in it to cure chilblains! But even more important is it’s use in WW2 when urine from people who had been treated with penicillin was collected to recover excreted penicillin at a time when need outstripped production

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You do take the p*** Stefano! 😉 Another great post! Xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Piss poor, now I understand! As ever, another absolutely fascinating chronicles!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You certainly cover a wide range of topics. A very interesting read.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The day London has been waiting for – The opening of the new Crossrail / Elizabeth Line | Stephen Liddell

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