The Alternative Science Digest

Normally this space is reserved for the weekly digest, updating you on what’s new in science. However, this week we thought we’d reserve the column space for a slightly different meaning to the word digest… This week we’re looking at the weird, and not so wonderful, things that we put into our body. Why? Because science apparently says we should.


I’m honestly not taking the pis-, err, Michael here. Drinking urine is actually considered an all singing, dancing – and apparently curing – alternative therapy. At more than 95%, your wee is predominantly water, with its remaining constituents made up from urea, chloride, sodium and other inorganic and organic compounds. It’s been proposed that issues such as arthritis, psoriasis and even cancer can be combated by drinking a daily glass of your own morning urine (this is apparently important, afternoon or evening wee is a no no).

Placental Encapsulation

The consumption of the placenta (yes, you have indeed just read that) is a practice which stems from traditional, albeit controversial, Chinese medicine. The placenta – which is the organ that allows for an exchange of blood, waste and nutrients between mother and child during pregnancy – is processed into pills, which are then consumed orally by the mother following childbirth. The proposed benefits include a reduction in stress and postnatal depression, although there is very little scientific evidence to back this up. In addition, devouring placenta is suggested to help restore iron levels within blood, however a clinical study undertaken by the University of Nevada – the first of its kind – found no benefit was incurred to a mothers iron status.

Faecal Microbiota Transplantation

This may sound like a crock of crap, literally and figuratively, however Faecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) is very much a real procedure. FMT requires the ‘relocation’ of bacteria and yeast, taken from a healthy person’s gut, into the colon of a patient that is deficient in this department. As the functionality of your digestive system is dependent on a diverse and dense population of bacteria existing in your gut, FMT could prove to be a highly successful treatment in lessening the symptoms of illnesses such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. The implant of the good gut microbiota, which have been processed to remove any existing poop from the sample, is delivered via rectal catheter.

Dougie Phillips

 Science Editor

(Image courtesy of Dr Shem)

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