The therapeutic use of virgin cow urine has a long history in India, particularly in Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient healthcare tradition that has been practised for more than 5,000 years. Ayurvedic medicine is considered to be the world’s oldest healthcare system and its name is Sanskrit for “science of life”. According to the University of Minnesota, Ayurvedic medicine is India’s primary healthcare system and is used by more than 90% of the sub-continent’s population.

Historically, urine has been used for various purposes such as tanning animal hides, cleaning and whitening of clothes, tooth whitening, gunpowder and as a health supplement, including in Western cultures. Even though early Europeans knew about soap, many launderers preferred to use urine for its ammonia to get tough stains out of clothes. After soap making became more prevalent, urine (known as chamber lye) was often used as a soaking treatment for removal of tough stains. Uric acid, also named urea or carbamide, is still used in beauty and personal care products for its skin-healing and smoothing properties. It is also used in household cleaners but as a minority ingredient compared to ammonia which is a common ingredient in hard surface cleaning.

Gomutra-Blog-GraphicToday, urea or carbamide is rarely used as an ingredient in hard surface cleaners (0.05% of launches between 2009 and 2013 according to Mintel’s Global New Product Database), whereas ammonia enjoys widespread use both for its fresh fragrance and high cleaning power. Ammonia is a more common ingredient in hard surface cleaners (2% of product launches during 2009-13) although just as many products (2%) claim to be free from this powerful, natural cleaning agent.

Globally, the most important hard surface cleaner categories containing ammonia as an active ingredient are all-purpose cleaners (48% of product launches) and glass care (38%). About a third of these ammonia-containing products have been launched in Europe (36%) or Latin America (33%) followed by North America (18%), but are relatively scarce in Asia Pacific and the Middle East & Africa.

Consumer Interest in Natural and Healthy Ingredients

Distilled virgin cows’ morning urine, or indeed any other type of urine, is likely to repel most modern consumers, but the health benefits and functional properties of this traditional ingredient should be attractive to consumers. For instance, about four in 10 German and British users of hard surface cleaners and six in 10 Italian, French or Spanish users are worried about the impact that ingredients in household cleaners might have on their health, which suggests high interest in products based on ingredients that are beneficial to health. In China, over eight in 10 adults would like to see more options of hard surface cleaning products that provide added benefits for health, while natural credentials are associated with safety for use around children or pets by most Americans who do household cleaning.

Henrik is Global Household Analyst at Mintel and was formerly R&D and Laboratory Manager at danlind, one of the largest manufacturers for the household industry in Northern Europe. Previously, Henrik worked for Teknos Group, one of the largest producers of paint and coatings in Northern Europe, and Novadan, one of the major suppliers of cleaning and hygiene solutions in Denmark.

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