Uric acid

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Harnsäure Ketoform.svg
Harnsäure Enolform.svg pKa1
Lactam form Lactim form Urate ion
Tautomers of uric acid and urate

Uric acid (2,6,8-Trihydroxypurine) - not to be confused with urea - is a nitrogen-containing metabolic product in many animal species and also in humans, which is formed during the breakdown of the purine bases of the nucleic acids. The salts of uric acid are called urates.

About 75% of uric acid is excreted via the kidneys, the rest via saliva, sweat and intestinal secretion.

Uric acid, nitrogen and the astral body

As nitrogen carriers, the uric acid, the urea and the whole kidney system are according to Rudolf Steiner closely connected with the astral body of man.

„Now, when you go on to the kidney system in exact series of experiments, you also get a connection with the nitrogen, and you have now already included in your observation: carbon, oxygen, nitrogen. And you need only follow the trace of all the roles that nitrogen plays in the organism's metastralisation in the metamorphoses of uric acid and urea, which only have to be investigated in very exact series of experiments. So that you will find confirmed in all that will be revealed to you in exact series of experiments with regard to the secondary secretions of uric acid and urea, that this certainly points to quite definite things which show you how man is thoroughly astralised from the kidney system. This will also result from other things which play a part in the activity of the kidneys up into the pathological states - as I shall indicate tomorrow - when, let us say, these or those blood corpuscles are found in the urine. The renal system simply radiates the astral organisation into the human organism. We must not consider the physical organisation, but that which is connected with it as a gaseous organisation, and the nitrogen again plays the part that the whole would be supersensible, just as we would be ethereal, if the oxygen did not intervene. Nitrogen makes the whole so that man can walk on the earth, that he is an earthling. Nitrogen is the third element that is connected with it.

Thus one is continually compelled to work towards a continuation of the methods in anatomy and physiology out of the principles of spiritual science. This is by no means done out of a fantastic cause. That it is not fantastic can be seen from the point at which one first arrives. One strictly demands: approach the kidney system, examine it as exactly as possible - more exactly than it is examined today - under various astral conditions, urea and uric acid secretions and so on, examine the whole systematically, and you will find everything that is said in this way proven piece by piece. Only then will you see into the constitution of the human organism.

Thus we can say: Through the kidney system all that which man gets into himself through the intake of food is caught up into the astral organism.“ (Lit.:GA 314, p. 112f)


The deposition of uric acid crystals in peripheral joints and tissues due to a permanently elevated uric acid level (hyperuricemia) leads to the painful condition known as gout (also uricopathy or arthritis urica), which can also lead to kidney damage in the long term. The later tendency to such deposits can be fostered by a wrong upbringing, in which the child's memory is overloaded.

„If I burden the child too much for memory, then I deprive it of too many vital forces, and the consequence of this is that I can see, when I look through the whole context: the child becomes pale, the child gets something that comes from deprived organic forces, it becomes anxious. Now one must have an eye for this turning pale, for this becoming anxious. For if one continually aims in the most savage way to give the child too much material to remember, it will lag behind in its growth. This retardation in growth has been caused by a wrong mental imposition, by a wrong memory material. And what is done to the organism is expressed at a very late age in the most varied metabolic diseases, in that especially a discharge of uric acid or the like takes place in the organism.“ (Lit.:GA 304a, p. 134f)

Uric acid and the right balance between I-organisation and astral body

„A particularly remarkable process of excretion is that of uric acid. The astral body is active in this excretion. It must take place through the whole organism. In particular, it takes place through the urine. In a very finely distributed way, e.g. in the brain. In uric acid secretion through the urine, the astral body is mainly active; the I-organisation is involved in a subordinate way. In the secretion of uric acid in the brain, the I-organisation is primarily decisive; the astral body takes a back seat.

Now in the organism the astral body is the mediator of the activity of the I-organisation for the etheric and physical body. This must carry the lifeless substances and forces into the organs. Only through this impregnation of the organs with the inorganic can man be the conscious being that he is. Organic substance and organic power would dull the human consciousness to the level of the animal.

The astral body, through its activity, makes the organs inclined to take up the inorganic deposits of the I-organisation. It is, so to speak, the way-maker for them.

One can see that in the lower parts of the human organism the activity of the astral body has the upper hand. The uric acid substances must not be absorbed by the organism. They must be abundantly excreted. Under the influence of this excretion, impregnation with inorganic substances must be prevented. The more uric acid is excreted, the more active is the activity of the astral body, the less is that of the I-organisation and thus the impregnation with inorganic substances.

In the brain the activity of the astral body is low. Little uric acid is excreted, but more inorganic matter is stored in the sense of the I-organisation.

Large quantities of uric acid cannot be handled by the I-organisation; they must fall into the activity of the astral body; small quantities of uric acid pass into the I-organisation and then form the basis for the formation of the inorganic in the sense of this organisation.

In the healthy organism the right economy must prevail in the distribution of uric acid for the individual regions. For everything that is nerve-sense organisation, only such a quantity of uric acid must be supplied as can be used by the I-activity; for the metabolic-limb organisation this activity must be suppressed; the astral activity must be able to develop in the abundant secretion of uric acid.

Now, as the astral body is the path-maker for the I-activity in the organs, the correctly distributed uric acid secretion must be regarded as a quite essential member of human health. For in it is expressed whether the right relation exists between the I-organisation and the astral body in any organ or organ system.“ (Lit.:GA 27, p. 62ff)

Uric acid and the formation of the head

Uric acid is also particularly related to the formation of the head:

„The human head of today needs carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is a combination of carbon, which is produced in the human body, and oxygen. Man leaves out the nitrogen from the air. If one studies the human head today, one comes to the conclusion that this human head is so predisposed that it can think quite well through the absorption of carbonic acid, that is, carbon and oxygen. But you know, this human head is constantly being ruined by carbonic acid, because it is a poison and the human head also consists of organs. It is just as if you were always breathing a little carbonic acid instead of oxygen. You really do breathe a little carbonic acid into your head. That is of immense importance, because we are constantly breathing into our head that which actually destroys our life. And that is also a reason why we have to sleep, why we need a time when the head does not absorb this little bit of carbonic acid so strongly and restores its organs....

If man had only ever breathed carbonic acid, he would never have had a head. The finished head can tolerate carbonic acid. But if man had always breathed carbonic acid, he would never have had a head. So he must have breathed something else in the past. Now we have to ask ourselves what man could have breathed in the past. And if we really study the whole of human development in detail, we come to the conclusion that man, for example, needs something other than carbonic acid in his mother's womb even during germinal life. And the interesting thing is: in the mother's womb the human being is almost entirely head....

Yes, you see, there the human being is almost entirely head. But he must first become one. Then he also needs nitrogen. He needs the nitrogen that is supplied to him from the womb of the mother. If man did not have the nitrogen in his mother's womb, which he later spurns in the air, does not allow to reach him, then he could not possibly develop.

Drawing from GA 348, p. 291

We simply would not get a proper head if we did not get one through nitrogen. So in an earlier state of development on earth, when his head was first developing, man must not have taken in oxygen, but nitrogen. So instead of carbon and oxygen being the essentials for him, as they are today, carbon and nitrogen must have been the essentials.

So man must have once breathed carbon combined with nitrogen, as he breathes today, that is, he must have taken in nitrogen. But what is carbon and nitrogen? That is cyanogen. And when it appears as acid, it is hydrocyanic acid, cyanic acid. In other words, at one time man must have absorbed nitrogen rather than oxygen from the air and developed cyanogen, an even stronger poison. And this even stronger poison has enabled him to think with carbonic acid today. At that time he first made his organs through the even stronger poison.

So now we come to an old development where man, instead of developing carbonic acid as he does today, developed cyanogen. And just as he exhales carbonic acid today, so he exhaled prussic acid then, an even stronger poison. And there we come from man and his present breathing to an old condition, where the air, just as it contains carbonic acid today through life, was then full of prussic acid, full of cyanogen [...]

Now just think, if I breathe nitrogen instead of oxygen, then of course something other than human blood is produced. Because you know, in the lungs the blood that has turned blue combines with the oxygen and becomes red blood. Now, when a person breathes oxygen, he absorbs oxygen into his blood. But when he breathes nitrogen, he absorbs nitrogen into his blood. In the same way as our blood, the real blood, works, in a healthy person there is never any uric acid in it, so by taking nitrogen into the blood, if it is just a little bit wrong in the human being, uric acid gets into the blood.

At that time, when man got his head, his blood was really only uric acid, because the nitrogen was continually combined with it instead of oxygen. His blood was only uric acid. And the human being who still swims as a human germ in what the mother forms around him, swims, as it were, in that which uric acid can easily enter. There is uric acid everywhere in his environment. It needs it in its germinal state. Yes, in former times, when he had got his head and breathed out prussic acid, that is to say, used the prussic acid for himself, and combined nitrogen and carbon, that is to say, had uric acid inside, he was swimming in uric acid. Uric acid was everywhere except him. The world was once such that uric acid and prussic acid actually played as great a role as water and air do today.“ (Lit.:GA 348, p. 289ff)

See also


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References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: verlag@steinerverlag.com URL: www.steinerverlag.com.
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
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Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English (by Steiner Online Library).
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steinerbooks.org - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.