Science

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Gurinder Osan/AP
Tonics, potions, pills and cosmetics made
from cow urine.

“Urine Therapy” Kills Hospitalized Woman

February 13, 2009 09:01 AM
by Isabel Cowles
A Bolivian woman died after her friend allegedly added urine to an intravenous injection, a controversial but popular medical practice.

Urine Injection Kills

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A Bolivian woman has died from urine injections administered at a hospital.

The patient, 35-year-old Gabriela Ascarrunz, was originally admitted to the hospital for treatment of an intestinal obstruction. Her friend, fashion designer Monica Schultz, allegedly administered the urine through a serum that Ascarrunz was receiving intravenously while recovering from surgery, the Associated Press reports.

Schultz, a fashion designer, is currently in the United States promoting a new line of clothing. She maintains her innocence despite an arrest order. “I am surprised by the accusations, but I feel obligated to say I am innocent," she said in an e-mail read over ATB Television.

According to a doctor, Shultz was expelled from the hospital as soon as Ascarrunz’s father realized that urine had been injected. Investigating prosecutor Oscar Flores told AP that “the serum was ordered changed, but unfortunately it was too late."

It is unclear whether Ascarrunz practiced urine therapy and officials have yet to determine the source of the urine.

Background: Urine therapy

Urine therapy is a means of using urine, either internally or externally, in order to sustain health. According to a report on the Vanderbilt University Web site, practitioners have claimed that urine therapy can aid in a variety of illnesses, including the common cold and serious ailments like skin cancer.

The practice was probably developed in ancient India, where it was used both internally and externally as a form of healing. It was adopted in Russia in the 20th century, which led to the creation of the State Urine Therapy Research Institute in Moscow during the 1930s. (The institute closed shortly thereafter.)

However, modern medicine does not have an approach to urine therapy and most contemporary doctors are skeptical of the process, as practitioners frequently complain of chronic nausea and stomach problems, Pravda.ru, a Russian newspaper, explains.

Because urine is one of the body’s primary means for excreting toxins, many medical professionals believe that adding those toxins back into the body is unsafe and suggest that patients who have had success with urine therapy were most likely experiencing a placebo effect.

Related Topic: Drinking cow urine

A group of Hindu nationalists in India are currently in the final stages of developing a soft drink made from cow urine. The group sees the drink as a way to “cleanse India of foreign influence and promote its ideology of Hindutva, or Hindu-ness,” according to the Times of London.

Traditional Hindu belief reveres cows and sees bovine excrement as purifying. In 2001, several Hindu nationalist groups began promoting cow urine as a cure for liver disease, obesity and cancer.
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