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Panchagavya, an Ayurvedic elixir of dung and urine

Panchagavya and Ayurvedic Medicine

Traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine advocates using Panchagavya as a cure-all for ailments ranging from diabetes to cancer, from schizophrenia to autism. Panchagavya is a concoction of five products of the cow. It includes three direct products — dung, urine, and milk — and two derived products — yoghurt and ghee (or clarified butter).

These ingredients are mixed in specified ratios and then allowed to ferment.

Some references include four more ingredients: jaggery (or raw cane sugar), banana, coconut, and water.

The dung and ghee are thoroughly mixed during the morning and evening, and then kept for 3 days. After settling for 3 days, it is mixed regularly for another 15 days. Then the other ingredients are mixed in, and the result is left to sit for another 30 days.

The resulting concoction is stored in a wide-mouthed earthen port or in a concrete tank in the open.

If you want a concoction without the dung and urine, you can replace them with honey and sugar to make panchamrita.

Origins of Panchagavya

The word panchagavya is Sanskrit — pancha meaning five, and gavya (from gau) meaning from the cow.

The Charaka Samhitā or चरक संहिता is a Sanskrit text on Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine. It is thought to have been written between the fourth century BCE and second century CE, with the version used today assembled in the 6th century CE. It consists of 120 chapters in eight books, and it describes panchagavya among many other concoctions.

The concoction is used in ritual settings. It is used as a prasada, a food offering which is offered to a deity in a temple and then is consumed by the worshipers.

The 2016 Program to Validate Panchagavya

Science on Panchagavya, February 2017

The journal Science reported in early 2017 that India's science ministry was starting a program to "validate" the millennia-old concoction.

India's science minister, Harsh Vardhan, said "The truth is that panchagavya is very strong." He said that the science ministry's project will use modern scientific tools "to show the world the supremacy of Ayurveda."

M. S. Swaminathan is the chairman of the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation of Chennai, India, a non-profit organization devoted to sustainable agriculture. He said, "Scientific validation is desirable in all cases."

Your Results May Vary

Pushpa Mittra Bhargava, a biologist and a former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and Hyderabad, India, has reviewed the medical literature of panchagavya, to the extent that it exists. He reports that in the few papers he found, the authors "had absolutely no inkling of what scientific research is."

Studies on the ingestion of individual components, such as cow urine, have shown no positive benefit. They have shown significant to deadly side effects from the urine itself. Leptospirosis and other infectious diseases can also be passed through cow urine.

Medical journal articles have investigated poisoning cases caused by ingesting cow urine and nicotine in Nigeria. Those studies concluded that cow urine and nicotine cause excitement in low doses, depressed respiration at moderate doses, and convulsion and death in higher doses. [Tropical and Geographical Medicine 27: 194-202, PMID 1179485; Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 1977 71(2): 127-132] The irony is that cow's urine and nicotine form a traditional Nigerian remedy to treat convulsions. So, this treatment causes and intensifies what it claims to cure.

Those are some of the risks just for drinking cow urine. As for eating cow dung, well, it would be challenging to estimate how many strains of harmful microbes and parasites you would ingest.

External Use? Maybe

Ayurvedic practices urge other uses of cow's urine. It has been used in soap, shampoo, hair oil, skin cream, and so on. As for its recommended use in tooth powder and nasal powder, now you're ingesting it. I'm not sure how you use nasal powder, but it sounds like you dry cow urine, grind that into a fine powder, and snort it up your nose. Thank you, but no.

Fertilizer? Sure

Panchagavya is commonly used as a fertilizer and pesticide. Yes, urine will provide needed minerals, and dung is commonly used all around the world as a crop fertilizer. With panchagavya you're just mixing dairy products into the traditional fertilizer.

You can mix panchagavya into water to grow plankton, which you can collect and use as fish feed. But in this case it's really just an aquatic fertilizer for plankton.

Panchagavya proponents claim that it is useful as animal feed, promoting growth in chickens, cows, and pigs.

Well, chickens are notoriously coprophagous, and pigs will eat most anything. The real benefit from using this as livestock feed comes from the ghee and milk and yoghurt which, unfortunately for the animals, is horribly contaminated with urine and dung.

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