Straight from Tap: An Unusual World of Uropathy

Updated: February 24, 2015
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Uropathy is a difficult topic to attack.

Several years ago, I had a couple of cracks at penning a story about the subject. Neither time did it pan out, neither publication ended up as interested as they seemed to be initially. But it is an interesting topic, no matter which side of the stream you may be on.

By the way, uropathy, for the uninitiated, is also known as urine therapy. Urine therapy is the practice of using one’s own urine for holistic or health benefits.

Luke Cummo is a former UFC fighter and he is, in my experiences with the subject, the poster boy. Part of that comes from my initial interaction with Cummo on the subject in 2009 and his use of the term “straight from the tap,” to explain his preferred method of drinking his own urine.

“The basic idea is that we’re supposed to be healthy naturally. When we talk about healing, we’re figuring out what is the behavior that’s making someone sick and then fixing that,” says Cummo, who once studied biology at Nassau Community College. “So uropathy is a way to educate your self by reintroducing elements in the urine.”

Cummo says that vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes, hormones and antibodies found in urine that come from kidneys balancing blood, are good to be reintroduced into the body.

While current UFC middleweight Lyoto Machida is probably the most well known professional fighter to take part in this particular form of therapy, Cummo had his run in the sun, including a runner-up finish on the second season of the popular reality show “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Cummo’s inspiration in uropathy came from Dr. David Jubb, a self-described Shaman from Manhattan, also practices uropathy, saying “I absolutely live off my own urine.”

Dr. Johnny Benjamin is a board certified member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, living in Vero Beach, Florida. Benjamin is an outspoken member of the medical community when it comes to athlete’s health and well being. While he often today focuses on issues in mixed martial arts and other sports like concussions and performance enhancing drugs, he adamantly disagrees with the assertion that uropathy is helping these fighters’ bodies.

“[It] sounds good, but lacks a clear understanding of physiology,” Benjamin says of Cummo’s theory. “Urine is 97 percent water plus three percent waste products and superfluous vitamins and minerals. If I wanted additional water, vitamins or minerals, I can think of several better ways to obtain and consume them.”

The idea of urine therapy is basically as old as time. Many who practice uropathy will go as far back as to quote the bible itself as an indication that we are supposed to drink our own urine. Proverbs 5:15 says “Drink water from thy own cistern, flowing water from thy own well.”

Bruce Colbert, the lead pastor of Crossbridge Community Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, believes that theory falls short.

“It is a word that literally means from a well or pit,” Colbert says of the word cistern’s Greek origins. “I don’t see any indication that drinking your own urine is the interpretation of that. If you are going to take it [Proverbs 5:15] as a metaphor, verses around it are about physical intimacy with your wife.”

Outside of Christianity, there is a Sanskrit text called Damar Tantra, a Hindu book that is not part of the core beliefs of Hinduism that suggests massaging one’s own skin with pure urine and that mixing it with water could help cure certain diseases.

Another historical reference comes in the form of Cleopatra, who was thought to have practiced forms of urine therapy.

“Urine therapy keeps you young because of the hormone content,” Cummo claims. “Cleopatra’s secret was that she kept a perfume bottle of her pee to spray on her skin. She was known to have a beautiful porcelain complexion.”

While modern day urine therapy is rarely wide spread, it is used even when not labeled as uropathy per say. Many believe that urinating on their own feet helps cure athlete’s foot. Former professional baseball player Moises Alou urinated on his hands to relieve calluses.

Machida, who’s representation did not return requests for an interview for this piece, went as far as drinking a female reporter’s urine in 2013, just before UFC 163 in Brazil. That act alone made many question if Machida’s habit was really for health benefits or if it had become an added exhibition to him as a fighter.

Dr. Benjamin however warns that whatever the case, people should tread lightly especially when considering drinking the urine of someone else.

“Urine is supposed to be sterile but as we all known, people commonly have urinary tract infections,” Benjamin notes. “Also, many drugs are cleared in the urine, so drinking the urine of another person is potentially exposing themselves to infection and/or any drugs cleared by the kidneys of the sample’s provider.”

Cummo himself said that he began drinking his own urine first with tea before developing a morning “straight from the tap” approach of drinking it fresh each morning.

Another quasi-celebrity, Eric Nies, who once starred in MTV shows like “The Real World: New York” and “The Grind,” also practices uropathy. After years away from the mainstream, he reappeared on 2008’s VH1 show “Confessions of a Teen Idol,” his appearance had changed and he had adopted uropathy. The most notable use for Nies was using his own urine as an anti-microbial soap and shampoo.

Cummo also uses his urine for anti-microbial soap.

When it comes to the fighting aspect, Cummo stands strong in his assertion that it helped him inside of the octagon where he went 3-4 over a three year stretch from 2005-2008.

“For my last UFC match, I only drank pee for nourishment and didn’t eat anything for two days beforehand. This way I was sure to be completely empty of food and all of my blood and energy was available for my fighting muscles, including my heart,” Cummo says.

Despite losing that fight to Tamdan McCrory at UFC 87 in August of 2008, Cummo believes that his freshness helped him stave off an opponent who was four inches taller and outweighed him by at least 20 pounds on fight day. Cummo survived multiple finish attempts from McCrory and even sunk if a good triangle choke attempt of his own near the end of the fight.

“I feel that is a testament to the efficiency of my strategy.”

Cummo believes that most fighters he sees stepping into a UFC cage these days eventually look bloated in the stomach, hips and thighs because of grain and animal consumption. Cummo says that many are flat and sluggish in their energy while younger fighters are the most explosive. Like with Cleopatra’s alleged external use to stay looking young, Cummo believes that on the inside it would help keep fighters young too because of the previously noted hormone content.

“When the blood fluid is balanced, you won’t have to pee all the time like people do today because of demineralization,” Cummo continues.

That doesn’t quite fly with Dr. Benjamin, who says that there is no health benefit in any way, as he sees it, to practicing uropathy. You may just be able to, as Dr. Benjamin says, chalk it up to superstition.

“Always remember, elite athletes are a very competitive group by nature,” he says. “They are always looking for an edge which predisposes them to being superstitious. Anything that they think may help will be tried.”

Whatever side of the spectrum that anyone falls on, uropathy remains an unusual subject to tackle. And while Dr. Benjamin believes that there is no health benefit, it has yet to show any issues in the health of fighters like Cummo or Machida after many years of practicing.

“Today, there is a worldwide awakening to how we fit in as caretakers,” Cummo composes. “The modern lifestyle is really detrimental to the body and the global environment. The constructive energy of the universe is cooperative, not competitive.”

Cummo, no longer an active fighter, still trains martial arts and lives in Valley Stream, New York. He will be releasing a martial arts training manual called “Master Lukey’s League of Champions,” that will contain 10 commercial recipes among other information. Cummo’s nationwide tour, “The Safest Way,” will kick off this year and he holds a vlog on at 9 p.m. ET each night of the week.

Dr. Benjamin, who remains among the most respected orthopedic spine surgeons in the nation, is also an author. He aims to make complex medical issues easy to understand for the common reader. His twitter (@DrJCBenjamin) is a must follow for those interested in sports and sports medicine.


Photo Cred (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Dan Vance

Dan is a MMA writer for Sideline Sports Report. A basketball enthusiast and coach, Dan is a die-hard Duke basketball fan, who has seen MMA quickly become his second favorite sport. Dan is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, attended IPFW and is a designer for Fort Wayne’s The News-Sentinel.

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