top of page

An Ayurvedic View of Gaumutra

Recent­ly, when the Indi­an Health Min­is­ter pro­posed using cow urine from the native breeds for the prepa­ra­tion of med­i­cines and to cure dis­eases like can­cer, social media users were in a fren­zy : how could they pos­si­bly believe that the waste prod­uct of an ani­mal can cure degen­er­a­tive dis­eases like can­cer? On one hand, our space sci­en­tists are near­ly able to put a vehi­cle on the moon, and on the oth­er, our gov­ern­ment is work­ing towards pro­mot­ing the use of cow urine as a seri­ous method of treat­ment! Many dis­missed this tra­di­tion­al method as mere pseu­do­science with no reli­able sci­en­tif­ic basis. But, to be tru­ly sci­en­tif­ic in our approach, it is nec­es­sary to first under­stand the rea­son­ing and view-point behind the tra­di­tion before arriv­ing at a con­clu­sion. The Ayurvedic view Gomu­tra or cow urine has a long his­to­ry of ther­a­peu­tic use in India. The tra­di­tion has been prac­ticed for more than 5000 years as per Ayurve­da, the Indi­an sys­tem of med­i­cine and holis­tic health. A sys­tem that has been fol­lowed for thou­sands of years would have to have a cer­tain basis. It might just be that its prin­ci­ples and approach to under­stand­ing the work­ing of the human body, diag­no­sis of dis­eases and treat­ment are dif­fer­ent from that of mod­ern allopa­thy. Ayurve­da is based on a holis­tic frame­work that views the dif­fer­ent sys­tems in the body as well as the mind as being inter­con­nect­ed and gov­erned by three fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples, called doshas — Vata, Pit­ta and Kapha. Vata gov­erns all move­ment in the body such as air flow, blood flow, lymph flow, gas­troin­testi­nal flow, urine flow and ener­gy flow. Pit­ta gov­erns all trans­for­ma­tions in the body such metab­o­lism, diges­tion, func­tion­ing of enzymes, sen­so­ry per­cep­tion and so on. Kapha gov­erns the sta­ble nature of the body such as the over­all body struc­ture, the body frame, strength of joints and men­tal sta­bil­i­ty. Ayurve­da views health as a bal­ance of all doshas, and any dis­ease as a con­di­tion of imbal­ance of one or more of the doshas. Health can be regained by bal­anc­ing the aggra­vat­ed dosha.

Clas­si­cal Ayurvedic texts like Sushru­ta Samhi­ta and Chara­ka Samhi­ta describe cow urine or gomu­tra as an effec­tive med­i­c­i­nal sub­stance of ani­mal ori­gin with sev­er­al ther­a­peu­tic uses. Its qual­i­ties are described as laghu (light), ush­na (hot) and teek­sh­na (pierc­ing). Owing to its hot and pierc­ing nature, it reach­es up to the deep tis­sues of the body. It bal­ances Vata and Kapha and increas­es Pit­ta. Since it increas­es Pit­ta, cow urine improves diges­tion, and is use­ful in the treat­ment of abdom­i­nal col­ic pain, bloat­ing, con­sti­pa­tion and indi­ges­tion. It is also used in the treat­ment of intesti­nal worms and skin dis­or­ders. It aids in the rever­sal of car­diac and renal dis­eases and ane­mia.

Through rec­tal admin­stra­tion, cow urine is used as an ene­ma in the treat­ment of intesti­nal obstruc­tion. It is also used to treat hem­or­rhoids and reduce pain, itch­ing and the size of the pile mass.

Pan­cha­gavya, which is made of five ingre­di­ents from the cow, name­ly, milk, ghee, curd, urine and dung, also has potent ther­a­peu­tic effects and forms an entire branch of med­i­cine by itself, called pan­cha­gavya chik­it­sa (pan­cha­gavya ther­a­py).

Pre­scribed med­i­cine, not a gen­er­al ton­ic Cow urine is com­posed of 95% water, 5% urea, min­er­als, salts, hor­mones and enzymes, which include iron, cal­ci­um, phos­pho­rus, car­bon­ic acid, potash, nitro­gen, ammo­nia, man­ganese, sul­phur, phos­phates, potas­si­um, amino acids, enzymes, cytokine and lac­tose. Since it is rich in these essen­tial min­er­als, it is capa­ble of remov­ing many imbal­ances in the human body, thus main­tain­ing gen­er­al health.

How­ev­er, it is clear­ly stat­ed that cow urine is a med­i­cine that should only be tak­en after con­sul­ta­tion with an Ayurvedic physi­cian and only in the pre­scribed quan­ti­ty and for the pre­scribed dura­tion. For exam­ple, if it is tak­en to cure indi­ges­tion, it should be tak­en only until the diges­tive pow­er is restored. Cow urine ther­a­py is not nour­ish­ing in nature; it is detox­i­fy­ing and cleans­ing in nature. Hence it is not a ton­ic and must be tak­en in the pre­scribed quan­ti­ty, after con­sult­ing a physi­cian.

Ayurvedic physi­cians rec­om­mend drink­ing dis­tilled cow urine as it is safer. Liq­uid pro­duced through the process of dis­til­la­tion is called ark. There are also clear and pre­cise instruc­tions on dosage. For instance, one must start with only 3–4 drops of cow urine once or twice a day. After a week, the dose can be increased to 1 spoon twice a day. This is the max­i­mum advis­able dose of cow urine dis­til­late. There are con­traindi­ca­tions as to who can­not con­sume cow urine. Peo­ple who are lean and ema­ci­at­ed, under fatigue, peo­ple suf­fer­ing from lack of sleep, chil­dren below 10 years, men suf­fer­ing from infer­til­i­ty and women who have just deliv­ered should not con­sume cow urine.

Chemo-ther­a­peu­tic poten­tial The anti-micro­bial, bioen­hanc­ing, antiox­i­dant and anti-can­cer prop­er­ties of cow urine have been indi­cat­ed in mod­ern clin­i­cal stud­ies.

Anti-micro­bial prop­er­ties: Var­i­ous stud­ies have found that the antimi­cro­bial activ­i­ty of cows urine is sig­nif­i­cant and com­pa­ra­ble with stan­dard drugs such as ofloxacin, cef­po­doxime, and gen­tamycin and oth­ers, which are antibi­otics that fight bac­te­r­i­al infec­tion. Cow urine is effec­tive against a vast num­ber of path­o­gen­ic bac­te­ria, espe­cial­ly gram-pos­i­tive bac­te­ria. Antimi­cro­bial activ­i­ty has also been found against some mul­tidrug- resis­tance strains such as E‑coli and Kleb­siel­la pneu­mo­ni­ae. E‑coli is one of the most fre­quent caus­es of com­mon bac­te­r­i­al infec­tions such as bac­teremia, uri­nary tract infec­tion, traveler’s diar­rhea, neona­tal menin­gi­tis and pneu­mo­nia.

Bio-enhanc­ing prop­er­ties: Cow urine also func­tions as a bio-enhancer of some antimi­cro­bial drugs. A bioen­hancer is an agent that enhances the bioavail­abil­i­ty and effi­ca­cy of a drug along which it is admin­is­tered, with­out any phar­ma­co­log­i­cal action of its own. This con­cept is known as Yog­vahi in Ayurve­da. Cow urine acts as a bioen­hancer of antimi­cro­bial, anti­fun­gal, and anti­cancer drugs. Cow urine dis­til­late was found to enhance the trans­port of antibi­otics like rifampicin, tetra­cy­cline and ampi­cillin across the gut wall by 2–7 times. Cow urine also enhances the poten­cy of Tax­ol, a can­cer med­ica­tion that is used to treat a num­ber of types of can­cers, against MCF‑7, a human breast can­cer cell line. Cow urine’s effects its bio enhanc­ing abil­i­ty by facil­i­tat­ing the absorp­tion of drugs across the cell mem­brane. US patents (6896907, 6410059) have been grant­ed for cow urine for its med­i­c­i­nal prop­er­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly as a bioen­hancer when it is co-admin­is­tered with antibi­otics, anti-fun­gal and anti­cancer drugs.

Anti-fun­gal prop­er­ties: Cow urine con­tains phe­no­lic acids which have anti­fun­gal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Anti-oxi­dant and anti-can­cer prop­er­ties: The anti-can­cer effect of cow urine is relat­ed to the antiox­i­dant prop­er­ty of uric acid and allan­toin present in it. Oxida­tive stress is an imbal­ance between free rad­i­cals and antiox­i­dants in the body. The body needs to main­tain a bal­ance between free rad­i­cals and antiox­i­dants. Free rad­i­cals are formed as nat­ur­al byprod­ucts of the body’s process­es and play a role in impor­tant func­tions that are essen­tial for health, such as fight­ing infec­tions. Lifestyle and envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors such as expo­sure to cig­a­rette smoke, pes­ti­cides, radi­a­tion, pol­lu­tion and a diet rich in sug­ar, fat, processed meats and alco­hol also con­tribute to free rad­i­cal pro­duc­tion. Free rad­i­cals are high­ly reac­tive and can eas­i­ly react with oth­er mol­e­cules. These reac­tions are called oxi­da­tion. How­ev­er, when free rad­i­cals are gen­er­at­ed in excess of a cell’s antiox­i­dant capac­i­ty, it results in severe dam­age to the DNA and cel­lu­lar com­po­nents such as pro­teins, lipids and cell mem­brane, even­tu­al­ly lead­ing to cell death. Since DNA, lipids and pro­teins make up a large part of the human body, the dam­age caused by the free rad­i­cals can lead to a num­ber of dis­eases over time, such as dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion, heart dis­ease, neu­ro-degen­er­a­tive dis­eases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and can­cer. Oxida­tive stress caused by an excess of free rad­i­cals also con­tributes to age­ing. Antiox­i­dants are mol­e­cules that neu­tral­ize free rad­i­cals. Cow urine has antiox­i­dant prop­er­ties and is a free rad­i­cal scav­enger. Hence, it neu­tral­izes oxida­tive stress. The immune sys­tem pro­duces T lym­pho­cytes, which are a type of white blood cell that kill can­cer cells and oth­er cells that are infect­ed by pathogens. Cow urine delays the nat­ur­al cell death in lym­pho­cytes and helps them sur­vive bet­ter. This action is due to the free rad­i­cal scav­eng­ing activ­i­ty of the urine com­po­nents, and these com­po­nents may pre­vent the process of aging. It effi­cient­ly repairs the dam­aged DNA.

T lym­pho­cytes are a type of white blood cell pro­duced by the immune sys­tem that kill can­cer cells. Cow urine delays the nat­ur­al cell death of these T cells and helps them sur­vive bet­ter. This action is due to the free rad­i­cal scav­eng­ing activ­i­ty of the urine com­po­nents (uric acid and allan­toin) which neu­tral­ize oxida­tive stress and delay the process of age­ing. (Image cour­tesy : JUAN GARTNER / Get­ty Images, Art­work of T lym­pho­cytes attack­ing a can­cer cell.)

The anti-can­cer poten­tial of cow urine was observed in a study con­duct­ed on 70 Swiss albi­no mice for 16 weeks. After tumors were induced, one group of mice were treat­ed with cow urine and the oth­er group was left untreat­ed. In mice treat­ed with cow urine, the inci­dence of tumor, tumor yield, and its bur­den was sta­tis­ti­cal­ly less than the untreat­ed group. Jain et al. con­duct­ed a human study to inves­ti­gate the effect of cow urine ther­a­py on var­i­ous types of can­cers in the Mand­saur area of Mad­hya Pradesh. The sever­i­ty of symp­toms such as pain, inflam­ma­tion, burn­ing sen­sa­tion, dif­fi­cul­ty in swal­low­ing, and irri­ta­tion decreased from day 1 to day 8 with cow urine ther­a­py. The per­cent­age of patients with severe symp­toms decreased from 82% to about 8% on day 8. The sever­i­ty of symp­toms decreased fur­ther with con­tin­ued cow urine ther­a­py.

Need for per­son­alised med­ical research The above stud­ies indi­cate that cow urine can poten­tial­ly be used as a ther­a­py to treat can­cer. How­ev­er, fur­ther research and per­son­alised clin­i­cal stud­ies are need­ed to val­i­date its poten­cy. Ayurve­da is per­son­alised med­i­cine. Fun­da­men­tal to Ayurve­da is the under­stand­ing of the prakri­ti or body type of an indi­vid­ual, which is based on the dom­i­nant dosha. The pre­cise dosage and time peri­od of admin­stra­tion of med­i­cine for each indi­vid­ual is based on the unique body type and lifestyle fac­tors and requires per­son­al con­sul­ta­tion with an Ayurvedic expert. Clin­i­cal tri­als involv­ing a large num­ber of peo­ple with dif­fer­ent body types treat­ed with the same stan­dard­ized for­mu­la would con­flict with the basic under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples of Ayurve­da. Hence, it is impor­tant that we rec­og­nize the per­son­alised nature of Ayurve­da and con­duct research stud­ies based on its approach.

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page