Dogs are a man’s best friend? A man is a man’s worst enemy? All lies! A man’s worst and best friend is actually, yes, pee. Think about it. It can extract you from painfully embarrassing situations, give you extra time to ‘figure out’ an answer during the exam, also just automatically keeps your insides healthy. Having said that, it will also inflict a lot of discomfort when you are attending that very serious meeting, or while you are travelling or when you are all warm and snuggly inside a blanket and the movie has reached the climax. Basically it all depends on the situation, really.
If these arguments do not convince you then just trust the Romans. They had an unhealthy obsession with pee. They loved pee – not ‘to pee’ – just the thing itself. It was all quite bizarre.
So, we have collected a few facts about mankind’s best frenemy because keep your friends close and enemies closer and all that. (Also because what was up with the Romans?!)
1. A person pees seven times on an average. If one pees more frequently or lesser than that, it is not something to really worry about.
2. An average healthy person’s peeing lasts for about 7 seconds. If one feels the urgent need to pee and the peeing lasts for only 2 seconds or so, one might be suffering from an infection.
3. The bladder of an adult can hold anything from 300 to 500 ml of urine.
4. The Romans gargled using their pee. The explanation is that urine contains ammonia which whitens teeth (which, if you ask me is not good enough).
5. The body only retains the essential products, the unwanted by-products leave the body as urine and stool.
6. The colour of your pee is indicative of your health. If it is clear then you are well hydrated, maybe even more than necessary; if it is pale yellow then you are hydrated enough; if dark yellow then less hydrated; If it is brown then it could be a serious liver infection; if red or pink then there is fresh blood in your urine.
7. If your pee has a sweet smell then it might be indicative of diabetes.
8. But if one’s pee has a foul smell then it indicates that the kidneys are probably spilling glucose or protein into the urine.
9. Diabetes is known as ‘madhumeha’ in Hindi, which roughly translates to ‘honey urine’. Indian physicians Sushruta and Charaka were probably the first to distinguish Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. It was in circa 400-500 CE.
10. There is a condition called oliguria, where you don’t pee enough.
11. Urea present in pee is an exfoliator. A synthetic version of urea is a component in skin moisturisers.
12. Your pee contains 3,000 components including sodium, potassium and chloride.
13. Consumption of eatables such as tuna, spicy food and coffee can change the odour of your pee.
14. Urine was used to create gunpowder, because of its nitrogen quotient. In fact, the method that utilised pee was used for about a hundred years.
15. Bear Grylls is an expert survivor, who is also famous for drinking his pee. Closer to home, we had Morarji Desai who was a practitioner of urine therapy that involves using urine in many cosmetic and medicinal therapies and drinking of one’s own urine.
16. Unlike what a lot of people might believe, if one is lost in the wilderness with no water in hand, it is not advisable to drink one’s urine because it contains a high amount of salt and that accelerates dehydration.
18. The medieval textile used urine extensively. In Elizabethan England, stale pee was used to dye fabrics. The Romans also used urine to tan leather and bleach wool and linen.
19. In the 1930s penicillin was very precious. To conserve it, people used to extract it from the urine of patients who had consumed penicillin.
20. Parauresis or pee shyness is a condition that renders a person unable to pee if there are people nearby.
21. The Roman emperor Nero levied urine tax. Urine was so precious that merchants went from door to door buying pee. Nero saw the opportunity and took it. He levied a tax which added to the imperial treasury.
22. If you emerge from a public pool smelling like ‘chlorine’ then it probably means that it is the smell of chloramine mixed with human pee. The stronger the ‘chlorine’ stench, the dirtier the pool.
23. Stress Urinary Incontinence – when you leak pee when you laugh, sneeze or exercise. “I laughed so hard, I peed” is a very valid expression.
24. During the World War 1, Canadian soldiers soaked up socks or handkerchiefs in their own urine and tied them around their faces, as gas masks. The ammonia in urine neutralised the chlorine and the water dissolved it, enabling the soldiers to breathe.
25. Women in Rome used to drink the very poisonous turpentine only to make their pee smell good. Man, the Romans, I tell you.
26. Unlike popular belief, it does not help if one urinates on a jellyfish sting. A moment of silence for all those who have been peed upon.
27. A company called E3 Technologies uses urine to create power. They use urine to create hydrogen while doing away with the ammonia so that it is not released into air.
28. There is something called ‘morning pee’, which is highly acidic. The body secretes acids while sleeping, which leaves the body as waste during the morning pee. And as the day progresses the pee becomes gradually more basic.
29. The pee stream of women is wider than men’s.
30. Unlike what a lot of people believe, the first time a baby pees is not after its birth but when it is in the womb. It starts peeing into the amniotic fluid.