Urine color: green, yellow, brown - what is the meaning of the color of the urine?

Urine color: green, yellow, brown - what is the meaning of the color of the urine?

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In most cases, we pay little attention to our urine and its color. But the urine says more about your own health than most people think. For example, urine sticks can be used to determine whether the metabolic disorder is diabetes mellitus. Most women also determine pregnancy at home with a urine test. However, special tests are not even necessary to obtain information about illnesses. Already the urine color provides information about the processes in the body. With the urine, the organism excretes various metabolic products. If the composition of the urine changes, there may be color changes. But not every change in urine color is an indication of a serious illness.

What is urine made of?

The kidneys act as a kind of sewage treatment plant in the body and are therefore the central organ of the urinary system. The blood gets into the kidney corpuscles through the vessels. A so-called ultrafiltrate is initially created here. This means that water and tiny particles are filtered like through a sieve. Around 180 liters of this primary urine are produced every day. This ultrafiltrate then gets into the tube system of the kidneys and is further filtered there. Some of the substances remain in the urine. Other substances are reabsorbed, so they get back into the bloodstream. 99 percent of the water is also recovered. Otherwise the fluid loss would be much too high. Finally, the body excretes the remaining urine via the kidney pelvis, the bladder and the urethra. That is about 1.5 liters a day.

Ingredients of urine

Urine excretion serves on the one hand to regulate the fluid balance and on the other hand to excrete various metabolic products. However, 99 percent of the urine is just water. The most important urinary substances include urea and uric acid. Urea is primarily formed by the liver, uric acid is formed when protein compounds, known as purines, are broken down. Other components of urine are:

  • Electrolytes, d. H. electrically charged particles such as sodium or chloride ions,
  • Creatinine from the breakdown of phosphate in muscles,
  • Foreign substances such as medication residues or colorants from food,
  • other metabolic breakdown products.

The substances contained give the urine its color.

What should urine normally look like?

In healthy people, the urine is usually almost colorless, light yellow to yellow or dark yellow to amber. The color intensity fluctuates mainly depending on the amount of drink. The yellow color is caused by urochromes such as urobilin and urobilinogen. These are breakdown products of hemoglobin, i.e. the red blood pigment. The hemoglobin is converted in the liver and the breakdown products from the gallbladder are released into the intestine. Part of the urobilinogen gets back into the liver via the biliary cycle, and part is excreted in the urine.

A colorless to very light urine indicates that the amount of drink is too high. This is no cause for concern, especially on warm days. However, if the urine is always very light, this may indicate diabetes mellitus. With this disease, the patients are often very thirsty at the beginning and drink a lot accordingly.

A light yellow to yellow color is optimal and indicates a normal urobilinogen content and a sufficient amount of drinking. On the other hand, if you have dark yellow or even amber urine, you should increase your fluid intake. The urine is too concentrated here. The morning after getting up, however, the urine is generally a little darker, so there is no need to worry in this case.

Syrup-colored urine when it dries out

If the urine is similar in color to maple syrup, dehydration may be present. So the body does not have enough liquid available. Such dehydration can be caused, for example, by inadequate hydration. This is more common in the summer months, especially for older people. Morbidly increased fluid loss due to severe diarrhea or vomiting can also lead to dehydration with very dark urine.

Beer-brown urine - the causes

If the urine is similar in color to a dark beer when excreted, this can be an indication of a so-called bilirubinuria. Bilirubin is produced when the red blood pigment hemoglobin is broken down. The so-called conjugated bilirubin is bound to proteins and reaches the liver. Only there is this protein compound dissolved, so that the bile pigment, the direct bilirubin, is created. In the intestine, it is then normally broken down into the dyes urobilinogen and stercobilin and excreted in stool or urine.

However, if biliary drainage into the intestine via the biliary tract is disturbed by gallstones, liver and biliary tract diseases or tumors, the concentration of bilirubin in the blood increases. This way the dye gets into the urine via the kidneys and stains it dark brown. The chair, however, is no longer dark brown, but sand-colored. Possible causes of beer brown urine are:

  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis),
  • Cirrhosis of the liver,
  • Fatty liver,
  • Liver cancer,
  • narrowed bile ducts due to inflammation,
  • Gallstones,
  • Tumors in the bile duct.

Red or pink urine

Anyone who discovers after urination that the urine is reddish in color often gets a fright first. Because with red or pink urine, most people think directly of blood and the serious diseases associated with it. However, the pink discoloration is caused much more frequently by food coloring agents such as betanine or carotene. After eating blueberries, rhubarb or beetroot, the urine may have a reddish hue without any disease value. However, if these foods were not on the menu, a doctor should be consulted. A red urine then indicates blood admixtures, which in turn are a warning for various diseases.

Possible causes of blood in the urine

There is no blood in healthy urine. If there is a so-called hematuria, this indicates injuries or diseases of the genitourinary system. The most common cause of hematuria is urinary tract infections such as cystitis or urethritis. Urinary discomfort also indicates such an infection. Urinary stones such as bladder or urethral stones can also injure the mucous membranes in the urinary tract and cause hematuria. The same applies to kidney infections such as glomerulonephritis or kidney inflammation (pyelonephritis). In rare cases, a tumor in the bladder, urethra, ureter or kidney is responsible for the red color of the urine. Other possible causes of red urine are:

  • Kidney cysts,
  • Renal infarction,
  • Renal vein thrombosis,
  • the tropical disease schistosomiasis,
  • urogenital tuberculosis,
  • Bladder polyps,
  • Kidney damage from diabetes mellitus or chronic high blood pressure,
  • Urinary tract injuries, for example due to a traffic accident or a fall,
  • Prostate diseases of men,
  • certain medications such as penicillin, blood thinners or cytostatics,
  • added menstrual blood during the menstrual period.

Blue-green urine

Blue-green urine is rare. It can be a sign of a genetic disease called tryptophan malabsorption syndrome. With this disease, the body cannot properly absorb the amino acid tryptophan. The resulting excretion products in the urine turn blue when exposed to air. Since the tryptophan malabsorption syndrome appears for the first time in infancy, it is also known as the blue diaper syndrome.

Bluish urine is also more common in older patients in the hospital or nursing home. Many of these patients receive a catheter and thereby develop a urinary tract infection. The bacteria responsible for this convert certain substances in the urine, giving it a blue color.

Foamy, cloudy urine

In healthy people, the urine is clear. A foaming or even cloudy urine can indicate kidney problems or a bladder infection. Proteins are normally absorbed in the kidney and do not reach the urine or only in small amounts. If the excretory organs no longer function properly, this can lead to increased protein concentrations. This is also called proteinuria. Proteinuria occurs mainly in acute kidney inflammation and chronic renal failure. Highly foaming urine also indicates an increased protein content and thus kidney disease. Disorders in the lymphatic drainage can also trigger a whitish-cloudy color. Here the so-called chyle fats get into the urine. This can be the case, for example, with parasitic diseases such as roundworm infestation or with lymph gland cancer.

Very dark to black urine - possible causes

Black urine is usually the result of taking medication. Various medicines can stain the urine black. This is not always mentioned in the package insert. Such discoloration of the urine can be triggered by the following drugs:

  • Iron,
  • Levodopa (Parkinson's drug),
  • the muscle relaxant drug methocarbamol,
  • Methyldopa to lower blood pressure,
  • Niridazole in worm parasites,
  • the tuberculosis agent paraaminosalicylic acid (PAS),
  • Laxative with putrid bark.

Black urine can also contain melanogen, which then oxidizes to melanin in the air. This is called melanuria. It is a rare phenomenon that occurs in malignant melanoma. Malignant melanoma, also known as black skin cancer, is a malignant cancer of the pigment cells (melanocytes).

Urine discoloration - that's what the doctor does

How and whether the urine discoloration requires medical treatment depends of course on the cause. In general, a medical examination is recommended for conspicuous changes in the urine color that cannot be directly attributed to the consumption of certain foods. In the event of color changes, the treating doctor then usually first performs a urine test using a urine stick. This provides further information on possible causes.

Treatment options for blood in the urine

If blood gets into the urine due to an urinary tract infection, antibiotics are usually prescribed, which are also used to treat kidney infections. However, glomerulonephritis cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is not triggered by bacteria. Instead, drugs are prescribed here that suppress the activity of the immune system. However, if there is a more serious illness, such as a bladder tumor, the treatment is more extensive. If possible, the tumor is surgically removed and / or reduced with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Urinary stones can be dissolved with medication. In other cases, shock wave or laser treatment is required.

Brown urine - the conventional treatment

If gallstones block bile drainage, the stones must be removed surgically. This also applies to tumors of the bile ducts. However, liver diseases are usually treated with medication. In addition, patients have to do without all liver-damaging substances such as alcohol.

Naturopathy for urine discoloration

Most urine discoloration is due to insufficient fluid intake. But water is our elixir of life. Because although the body is largely made up of water, it cannot store it. We lose fluid not only through the urine, but also through the lungs, skin and intestines. With physical exertion or fever, the need increases. One and a half liters of water per day are a general guideline. This is not always enough so that everyone should listen to their individual thirst.

Furthermore, naturopathy has a number of approaches that can be used specifically to combat the different causes of urine discoloration. However, there are risks associated with their use and there are definitely contraindications, so that all measures should be discussed with a doctor in advance.

Medicinal plants for healthy kidney function

Herbal medicine also offers a wealth of options for promoting kidney health. Plants that have a positive effect on kidney function include, for example:

  • Dandelion,
  • Horsetail,
  • Nettle,
  • Juniper berries,
  • Birch leaves,
  • Oats.

The goldenrod has also been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat bladder and urinary tract infections. The plant has diuretic and antibacterial properties and is therefore an important part of every irrigation therapy.

Bearberry can also be helpful for urinary tract infections. Bearberry leaf tea can counteract the attachment of bacteria in the urinary tract and on the mucous membrane of the bladder. The nettle is also a popular kidney plant. The leaves of the plant in particular are used for kidney and bladder problems. Using nettle tea, the amount of urine can be increased to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract. Herbal mixtures with various plants such as chamomile, nettle and orthosiphon or birch leaves are particularly suitable for tea preparations. Such kidney tea can be drunk with pain and irritation in the area of ​​the bladder and urethra. A tea can also be useful to support bladder infections.

Warm hip baths or full baths with chamomile and horsetail are particularly good for urinary tract infections. Heat generally relieves cramps and pain. That is why patients with bladder infections find hot water bottles or cherry stone sachets and warm hay flower pads on the lower abdomen and back to be extremely pleasant.


If you want to prevent bladder and other urinary tract infections, you should make sure that you have sufficient fluids. It is also important to avoid any hypothermia. Wet or sweaty clothes should be changed immediately. With frequent freezing, warm wraps or hay flower pads can warm the abdomen. Excessive genital hygiene, on the other hand, does not help in any way. On the contrary: soap and intimate lotions irritate the sensitive skin of the intimate area and thus promote the development of infections.

Health for the liver

In addition to urinary tract infections, diseases of the liver and biliary tract can also discolour urine. Naturopathic support can be useful here. Many of the liver plants still used today have a long tradition in medicine and have been used for liver care since ancient times. Dandelions, artichokes and milk thistle in particular have a positive effect on the liver-bile system.

Flavonoids, phytosterols, choline, inulin and tannins are just a few of the active ingredients in the dandelion, which stimulate the flow of bile and promote the excretion of waste products via the liver. With a known biliary tract occlusion, caution is advised with a tea cure for liver detoxification.

Artichoke leaves have a liver-regenerating and liver-detoxifying effect. Bitter substances and the coffeoylquinic acid derivatives are responsible for this. Artichokes can simply be consumed as tasty vegetables. They also develop their liver-strengthening effect as juice. Regular cures with dandelions, yarrow, artichoke leaves and wormwood can prevent gallstones.

Liver wrap for a healthy liver

A liver wrap is also suitable to prevent the urine from turning brown due to liver dysfunction. The combination of warmth and moisture stimulates the blood circulation in the liver and promotes the outflow of bile. All you need to do is hot water or a hot yarrow tea, some towels and some rest. First, a dry cotton cloth is soaked in the warm liquid and placed on the skin in the area of ​​the liver, i.e. under the right costal arch. Then a hot water bottle on the damp cotton cloth and another dry towel on the hot water bottle provide pleasant warmth. A rest period of 30 minutes is recommended. A liver wrap can be used several times a week.

Other naturopathic procedures

Depending on the cause of the urine discoloration, other naturopathic treatments are used in naturopathy. These include, for example, the classic diversion procedures or neural therapy. Depending on the symptoms, autologous blood therapy, acupuncture or microbiological therapies are also suitable as treatment methods for proven dysbiosis of the intestine. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


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Video: What Does The Color of Your Urine Mean? (August 2022).