Bundle Of Edible Joy: Why New Moms Are Bringing Their Placentas Home

Ground Placenta (danoxster/flickr)

Ground Placenta (danoxster/flickr)

By Kira Kim
Guest contributor

I recently got an email with the subject line: “Placenta.”

I work with a lot of pregnant women and new mothers, so this particular tag didn’t faze me. But the note wasn’t about a client; it was about a new law in Oregon that allows mothers to take their placentas home from the hospital after childbirth.

Some hospitals already allowed this practice, but it was technically against Oregon’s law prohibiting medical facilities from releasing medical waste, reports The Oregonian.

Amanda Englund of Placenta Power in Portland told me in an email that momentum is “building” for mothers to take their placentas home with them for therapeutic use. “I have seen the number of clients I serve double every year. More folks are learning about it through media sources and more mothers are sharing their experiences about how positive the effects have been on their recovery. The new law cements…this growing trend.” (Want more proof? Kim Kardashian is considering it. And mean “Glee” cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester took her placenta home.)

OK, so now it’s legal: power to the placenta in Oregon.

But why, you may ask, would anyone want to take home their placenta in the first place?

The answer is broad: sometimes it’s a cultural thing, part of a long tradition, and sometimes it’s extremely intimate and health-related.

A 2013 survey published in the journal Ecology, Food and Nutrition by anthropologists at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada asked 189 women who ate their placentas after birth (a practice known as placentophagy) “why they did it, how they preferred to have the placenta prepared, and if they would do it again. (An interesting side note on demographics: in this study, the majority of women who ate their placentas were “American, Caucasian, married, middle class, college-educated and were more likely to give birth at home.”)

Researchers report that the top three positive effects of placenta consumption, according to participants, were:

•Improved mood
•Increased energy
•Improved lactation

(For the record, the top three negative side effects of placentophagy were: “Unpleasant burping, headaches, unappealing taste or smell.”)

I was first introduced to placentophagy while living in China. A Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner wrote me a prescription after I miscarried to balance my qi. As a Westerner I looked at him with a mix of sarcasm and confusion. He then explained that the medicine was actually placenta, dried, ground and taken in pill form. (This is called encapsulation — more later.)

I was not convinced about taking someone else’s placenta, but he had me interested. Could my own placenta from future pregnancies be used for my benefit? It was then that I learned about the art of placentophagy and began to learn the ins and outs of this ancient practice, as well as it’s benefits.

Upon returning to the U.S., I was surprised that so many American women were open to the practice. For the past two years, I’ve helped more than 100 mothers through this process. Here’s a little more detail on how it all works:

I pick up the placenta after it is delivered. I inspect it to make sure it is complete, separate the membranes and the cord and take the blood out as much as possible. It is then sliced and dehydrated for 8-12 hours.
I then grind it into a fine powder and encapsulate it. The average placenta produces 75-150 pills, though I’ve seen higher numbers in women who lead healthy lifestyles including whole foods diets, adequate rest and exercise. (If you are put off by the taste, don’t worry, I can do a chocolate version — soy and gluten free — as well.) The cost is about $200 but I charge on a sliding scale.

I realize these numbers are relatively small, but Moms whom I have served have reported that the difference between their first postpartum period with no pills and this one is like night and day in regards to emotional stability.

In mothers whose newborns had a proper latch for breastfeeding, there were no reports of insufficient milk supply even after the six month follow up. More than 60% of moms I worked with wrote of increased energy.

And the process is much more palatable than it may sound. Here’s one of my former clients, Eleanor Quick:

I appreciated very much that the placenta was processed away from our home and that the bottles were discreet and attractive. This was important as we share our kitchen with tenants. And the price was right too. From what I’d seen on line I thought I was going to have to skip encapsulation altogether or look into making placenta smoothies at home by myself… which I probably would not have been able to do in the end as it was grossing my husband out at the mere thought and I knew I wouldn’t have the energy (or the taste buds) for it when the time came.

This new law in Oregon opens up the conversation about laws in other states. Currently Hawaii is the only other state that also explicitly allows the legal release of the placenta. Indiana is the only state that expressly refuses it. Other states take it hospital by hospital. In Massachusetts, most hospitals oblige the request as long as it is mentioned before labor or upon arrival.

I don’t think this law will change a lot of the negative attitudes, or the gross factor, that is sometimes elicited by this practice, but I’m happy to see that it is making news and getting tongues wagging.

Kira Kim, a Certified Lactation Educator, labor doula and student midwife, is the mother of soon to be three and the owner of North Shore Birth and Beyond based out of Salem, Mass.

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  • Guest

    Absurd. No real scientific evidence of clinical benefit. This is another form of alpha parenting. You want to eat it, fine. But it has absolutely NO benefits other than feeling good about yourself for doing something crunchy. Eat grass-fed, organic meat if you want iron and energy to replenish yourself. At least that will still have nutrients in it, unlike dehydrated placenta which has all nutrients sucked out of it.

    PS there is no way equipment other than an autoclave at a hospital can properly be sanitized between client placentas. So enjoy eating part of someone else’s placenta while you eat yours.

  • pennyroyal

    this is just stupid, IMO. The research is bogus and the idea repellent. Seems like more narcissistic, ‘selfie’ behavior. Hey, folks, there are hundreds of thousands of people in the Philippines recovering from a massive hurricane. Send your $250 to them if you want to feel better.

  • fun bobby

    don’t pay someone $250 to do this. if you have an oven and a knife you can make it yourself. while this may benefit some people it can have side effects that can outweigh any benefit

  • fun bobby

    be careful if you are thinking about doing this. if you have pupps or something like it then eating these placenta pills can bring it back.

  • Vanessa

    I don’t know of any studies showing harmful effects of ingesting one’s placenta nor have I heard of any stories. Because I have risk factors for postpartum depression and am aware of the serious negative impacts this disorder has for mom and baby, I would much rather take part in any natural method (consuming my placenta, exercising, meditating, developing a solid social network, etc.) toward prevention before turning to synthetic drugs once symptoms develop. I am hopeful there will be solid research taking place on this subject in the near future!

  • Barrett Reinhorn

    I ate my placenta. I didn’t encapsulate – I froze chunks and used them in smoothies – no taste or texture. I did this for my first (and only) birth because I worried about postpartum recovery, physically and mentally. I had a great postpartum experience, and of course, we won’t ever know “scientifically” why – could have been the placenta, or not. But I’m glad that I was in control of my placenta (hospitals should absolutely give the placenta, with NO ISSUE, to any parent who requests it ahead of time). I’m also glad that I had a supportive group of family and friends around me that didn’t give me grief about an “odd” practice. After all, I didn’t ask them to eat the smoothie, so what’s the big deal if I want to? In 20 years, it might not be so odd…

    • Guest

      I don’t know of any studies showing harmful effects of ingesting one’s placenta nor have I heard of any stories. Because I have risk factors for postpartum depression and am aware of the serious negative impacts this disorder has for mom and baby, I would much rather take part in any natural method (consuming my placenta, exercising, meditating, developing a solid social network, etc.) toward prevention before turning to synthetic drugs once symptoms develop. I am hopeful there will be solid research taking place on this subject in the near future :)

  • Nshek

    Every other mammal on the earth eats their placenta. It is full of so many nutrients. We are mammals and need lots of nutrients after birth. Makes sense.

  • DarqueSideOfTheMoon

    Reading this after dinner makes me want to toss my cookies. YUCK!

    Animals will eat the placenta to keep it from attracting predators and because in the survival game they’ll eat anything that’s not moving fast enough to NOT be eaten, including their own feces! Doesn’t mean I want a steaming pile of it on my plate, thanks.

  • n_djinn

    Understand that the linked “research” is not a controlled study of what happens when people eat placenta, but is a study of why would people eat it. That means the responses of “why” are not factual physiological effects and are simply predetermined reasons used in the survey. There’s a reason why its common in mammals but not humans and it’s not because it’s some secret magical elixir. BTW, I’ve assisted my wife have all three of our children at home with not a single complication.

  • Ffejtball

    So, this authors credentials lead me to believe that this article was written out of vested interest. Seems also like many of the negative attitudes stem from a thorough lack of research and data into the matter, not to mention the fact the practice (in people) originates from California and not some ancient culture. In Chinese medicine dried placenta *is* used, but typically only as medicine for people in general, not new moms.

    So sparse, shaky research, “ancient medicine claim”, vested interest, this seems like a placebo effect that’s being billed as medicine. Which isn’t to say placebos aren’t powerful, just that they aren’t medicine.

    If this woman were advocating that new moms eat a diet calibrated to give them what they need I don’t think people would be scoffing, but she’s chosen instead to tout a blatantly “out-there” approach that isn’t grounded in anything but admittedly anecdotal evidence. An approach that, it’s worth mentioning again, she makes quite a bit of money from.

    This is suspect, at best.

    • gardenia

      The whole bunch of garbage of “eating” even one microgram of the placenta is ABSURD!!!

  • Heather Keefe Coleman

    Not sure that I’m for or against this practice (nor am I sure I have a right to judge other mom’s who do so) – but I have to ask those who are requesting additional research and studies to substantiate claims… Who are we expecting to fund this research? Most medical research done in the US is supported by pharmaceutical companies who want to prove that a true need exists and/or their drug is safe to solve the problem. Yes, many medical schools do study all aspects of health, but without a “life or death” problem, or without additional contraindications that the process is unsafe – I find it highly unlikely that this would rise to the top of anyone’s list for necessary study. There typically has to be someone lobbying for research to be done, and I’m doubtful that your local doula/placenta prepper has the time or resources for that.

  • Beth DeRoos

    Other animals consume the placenta so why shouldn’t human animals?

    • Steven James Olson

      Other animals also eat their own feces and will consume the corpse of offspring that are stillborn. Should we follow suit there as well?

  • FHosea

    As a Californian, I have to ask if placenta comes with a recommendation for appropriate wine pairing?

    • floridanative1203

      From the research I’ve done it is suggested a Chianti Classico would pair nicely.

  • lireland

    I have nothing against this practice and don’t see how this could cause any harm given we prepare other meats with much less attention to detail. However, I’d like to see a placebo-controlled trial before I can believe that there is truly a benefit. I mean, improved mood and milk supply compared to what? If there was a comparison group that showed objectively that women had measurable benefits, I might be more likely to pursue this (and put up with the yuck factor :)

    • Pitabred

      I’m sure there’s no placebo effect, and this was a properly double-blind study… no way you would be in a better mood if you convinced yourself you would be in a better mood after doing something, right?

  • Guest

    Folks can eat the afterbirth…but before making claims perhaps someone should do an analysis of the tissue for hormones and other biologically active chemicals. Since the placenta is largely fetal in origin it is genetically the same as the baby. So, is there a difference in the effect on the mother based on the sex of her offspring and what is the dose of ????? in the dried placenta pills? Someone needs to do some bench work.

  • Amy Tuteur, MD

    Eating the placenta is not an ancient practice. Indeed, the anthropological literature dates the first sighting to an indigenous group of California homebirth advocates (I kid you not).

    In Consuming the inedible: neglected dimensions of food choice, MacClancy and colleagues report:

    “… In association with the natural childbirh movement from the 1960’s placentophagia was taken up in some ‘Western’ societies, especially in California, on the basis that it was ‘natural’, as ‘all’ mammalian species eat the placenta. The problem with this is that not all mammals are regularly placentophagous and our closest primate relatives also are not placentophagous… [M]odern placentophagia is based on an inaccurate idea of making the human birthing process more ‘natural’.”

    In other words, eating the human placenta is not natural and it is an affectation dreamed up by California natural childbirth advocates.

    • guest

      What about abundant use of placenta in TCM? That dates back much further than the 60s in CA. It is prepared the same way, dried and ground. It’s called zi he che and has been used for some of the same reasons for much longer than 50 years.

    • floridanative1203

      You are actually incorrect, Amy. Having worked in a maternity hospital system in China for an extended length of time, I learned that this is something the Chinese have been doing for hundreds of years. Perhaps you should brush up on the topic before jumping to answer anything that might not be in line with your traditional obstetric education.

      In consuming the EDIBLE placenta Li Shizhen first wrote about placenta as a medicine in the 1500′s when he compiled the first Materia Medica on Traditional Chinese Medicine. There is also noted documentation of dried placenta being used as medicine in Europe:

      “The most popular placenta encapsulation process used widely around the world is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) techniques, where the placenta is considered a powerful and sacred medicine. TCM holds the placenta as a ‘full of life force’ organ offering those who consume it ‘jing’ energy only obtainable at birth and consuming placenta is comparable to ‘drinking from the fountain of youth’. Placenta remedies are an important part of birthing history. One of the first and greatest medical and pharmaceutical experts of China, Li Shi-Zhen, included placenta ‘zi he chi’ as a medicine in his first TCM Materia Medica published in 1578. There is scattered documentation of dried placenta prescribed as a remedy in Europe and other parts of the world up until the late 1700′s.”

      In other words, eating the human placenta is, actually, natural and has been used as medicine the world over for far longer than allopathic medicine has been around.

      • pennyroyal

        in China they kill bears for their bile and there’s even people in US who illegally kill bears and take the bile sack to sell to China. That is just one example of ‘folk medicine’ that harms animals and the environment (rhino horn compounds and most of the rhino population is going extinct). Just because it’s exotic, doesn’t make it sensible to do.
        I’m not putting anything in my body that hasn’t had an FDA approval and much research on my own. Our gut is not the same as it was back when we were animals, we don’t need our wisdom teeth, and our appendix is a non-functioning vestigial organ. Nothing about this latest food fad makes sense.

        • Guest

          You aren’t putting anything in your body that isn’t FDA approved? What did you eat for breakfast? Where did it come from? Can you name all of the ingredients? Are you familiar with the sanitary conditions of the places where they were processed?

  • Susan Ruffaner Gahagan

    My dog eats her poo. Maybe that’s a good idea too. :-P

  • Richard E. Rae

    “Ew… I thought you said I was eating POLENTA.”

  • Trixie

    This really sounds like a food borne illness hazard. You take a placenta that’s potentially been fecally contaminated by mom and or baby, then some lady who has used her food dehydrator for other people’s fecally contaminated placentas, dries it with no preservatives. While it’s drying it’s still moist, and the perfect temperature for microbes to grow. You wouldn’t even make your own beef jerky without an adequate amount of salt.

    • Trixie

      Also, how do you know the person dehydrating your placenta isn’t just giving you back dehydrated beef liver capsules in a fancy jar?

  • Heroic Hal

    Let us know when you’ve done a controlled experiment to be sure that placebo takers don’t also report increased energy and improved mood, and have defined metrics against which to measure these. In this day and age we ought to be beyond judging the success of health-related practices based on ill-defined, subjective reports from respondents with no basis for comparison. Question: Improved or increased over what? Your clients are women freshly recovering from pregnancy and taking the capsules you’ve prepared. How do they know how they would have felt if they weren’t taking them?

  • Mary Parker

    PLACEBO EFFECT, PEOPLE! HAS NOBODY EVER HEARD OF THE PLACEBO EFFECT?!

    Not to mention, the fact that many of the women reporting their post-partum suffering was lessened are reporting this after ingesting the placenta for their second or third child, not their first — so it could easily be that their body is just better at preparing for the post-partum stage.
    This is all just new-agey pseudoscience.

    • Ellen B.

      Those who’ve had multiple children (like me) and suffer postpartum depression (like me) would likely tell you this- IT GETS WORSE WITH EACH CHILD, NOT BETTER! :) And since when is the ANCIENT practice of TRADITIONAL Chinese medicine new-agey?!? I’ve never tried this, but certainly would, on the “off chance” it would help me feel less sad during what should be a joyful time in every new mother’s life. Don’t knock it til you’ve suffered and tried it. And for the record, depression doesn’t work that way. Placebo effect might work for a day or two, but certainly not long term.

      • Mary Parker

        “New-age” refers to a movement (the brain-child of hippie movements and such) that loves things like magic power crystals, yoga, meditation, and “traditional” medicine, because it says that all “Western” practices are evil soul poison. It doesn’t mean the practices are literally new, but the combination of them in (ironically) Western people and the use of them as an excuse to deny science and logic is newer.

        As a former sufferer of your general (non-post-partum) depression, I’ll let you know that the placebo effect has a HUGE effect on depression — as long as adequate friend/family support is in place, and probably some good therapy.

        While some mothers may find post-partum effects worsen with each successive child, other mothers may find the opposite effect, or that they have different post-partum experiences with each child.

        There is no science behind ingesting a placenta. If you want to do it to fulfill religious rites or satisfy your “soul,” that’s fine. But the idea that ingesting a placenta has any real, scientifically quantifiable effect on post-partum suffering is laughable at best.

        • Ellen B.

          Wow… Condescend much?

          While I appreciate your use of large words and clear bias against any form of healing that doesn’t adhere to “Western” practices, the author states that she learned of the practice of ingesting placenta IN CHINA. Not here in the “New-Agey, Pseudoscience” culture of America.

          As for science to back it up, because scientific study here in the US is typically funded by the Pharmaceutical Industry, you will not likely see a study to prove the effectiveness of anything non-drug related. That doesn’t make it less effective. (And for the record, I am not arguing the effectiveness of this practice. Merely, your dismissal of the idea that this could be anything other than a placebo effect. From what you’ve stated here, you cannot prove it IS a placebo effect. Or can you? If you can, by all means, cite the studies here!) The studies that ARE conducted are done for the SOLE purpose of increased revenue, and / or butt-covering for said drug companies.

          I am glad for your sake, that you are able to call yourself a former sufferer of depression. It sucks. I too, would consider myself a former sufferer. One who is grateful to have found non-Western, non-drug related ways to rid myself of the misery of depression.

          The only thing worse than depression, are the side effects of depression medication. (Which “may include increased thoughts of suicide”. Comforting…. very comforting.)

          • Mary Parker

            Oh wow she learned it IN CHINA? Sorry, it must be valid science. Just like eating powdered rhino horn makes your penis bigger, right?

            Oh wow, she learned it IN CHINA? The fact that it’s now being taught to Westerners as medicine has no bearing on how New-Agey it is if the practice (like most other New Age practices) originated IN CHINA.

            When you test a new drug scientifically, you operate under the assumption that it doesn’t work. The only way to screen for placebo effect is to give some participants of the study a placebo. Otherwise, the scientific approach would be to say there’s no way to prove it wasn’t just placebo effect that offered all the benefits. You don’t cite studies to prove it IS placebo effect — you cite studies to prove it ISN’T.

            As far as the antidepressant side effects, the one you’re specifically referring to is called an “adverse reaction,” where the antidepressant actually makes you more depressed. This is due NOT to the anti-Western sentiment that “all drugs are bad,” but because different kinds of antidepressants treat different possible causes of depression. Some raise seratonin levels, some raise dopamine levels, others do different things. If you use the wrong one, then you’re affecting the wrong happy-hormones, and possibly worsening your depression until you find the right one.

            While pharmacology monopolies are stupid and lead to awful business practices, the New Age practice of rejecting Westernism as totally evil and hailing native cultures as perfect is stupid (and even a little racist — see the “Holy Native” stereotype).

            In EVERY case, it’s best to be skeptical first and believing later.

            However in the end they’ve found that in MOST cases of depression, the most powerfully healing part of any form of medication (bullshit pseudoscience or soul-poisoning pills) is usually the placebo effect anyways. The evil Western pills just happen to have actual effects backing up the placebo. So at least in the case of real pills, you aren’t paying hundreds or maybe thousands of dollars for TOTAL bullshit.

            Cause in the end that’s all the “ingesting the placenta” rage is about — capitalizing on New Agers. Ironic really. Capitalists can milk money out of anybody, even people who can’t stop talking about the evils of consumerism.

          • Ellen B.

            I feel so much more educated after reading your posts. Thank you, for saving me from my ignorant idea that anything not backed by the government could have real value!

            If you read back, you’ll realize I NEVER argued that it was valid science because she learned it IN CHINA. (Oh wow.) I merely pointed out that there MIGHT be some chance it does physically help a person.

            You’re awfully worked up over a couple hundred bucks of placenta pills. Are you sure people (you) “aren’t paying thousands of dollars for TOTAL bullshit”? Because they TOTALLY are! Actually, they’re spending MILLIONS!!! I suppose it’s just OK because you’re buying prescription drugs approved by the trustworthy FDA.

            As for me and my baby factory (thanks to pennyroyal for my new family nickname), we’ll be busy SAVING our money and our health by eating real food, grown and raised by people we know and love…

            Also, thank you for amusing me over the last few days and allowing me to push your buttons. It’s been fun!

      • pennyroyal

        why are you having multiple children in a world with 7 billion inhabitants. You are doing a disservice to the whole planet and certainly the whole human race. Maybe you wouldn’t suffer so if you’d stopped at one or two. Or are you from the Duggar family going for 20??

        • Ellen B.

          You’re joking right?!?

          Due to the fact that you don’t know me or how I live my life, you have no business A) judging how many children I have, and B) accusing me of doing a disservice to the planet and the whole human race.

          If you’d read my above comment, you’d see I NO LONGER suffer from depression- Post-partum or otherwise. Without polluting my body and the earth with pharmaceutical drugs I DON’T need.

          Your comment is rude and offensive… to mothers everywhere. If you’re so concerned about the overpopulation of the world, feel free to do us all a favor and DON’T PROCREATE!
          I can promise you this, my little family of 7 makes a smaller environmental footprint than the average family of two or three people. Also, I believe I’m doing the human race a great service by raising responsible, respectful, kind, considerate, generous, educated and hard working individuals. My children know what it is to be part of something bigger than yourself. They are learning that you have a responsibility to the people around you, to contribute in a positive way to society. Not just for yourself and your life, but for the betterment of the WHOLE HUMAN RACE. (I cannot tell you how often I go out in public and am embarrassed for parents whose children are acting out because they have been spoiled rotten, and allowed to believe it’s all about them.)
          So truly, if your concern is for the earth and the whole human race, you can sleep easier tonight know I’m doing my part, and you can go lecture/judge someone else. There are plenty of people out there who could learn lots about conservation, reuse, and repurposing items. Lecture them about buying locally raised and responsibly farmed food, shopping at thrift stores and reducing waste.
          While you do that, I’ll be here at home doing those things and more for the environment. And for the whole human race, I’ll be busy raising people who understand hard work, giving back, and a that kind word of encouragement can make a big difference in a person’s life.
          Have a nice day! :)

          • pennyroyal

            I think eating rude food like one’s placenta is weird and offensive. As is having more than 2 children. Get over yourself. You are just a breeder and a baby factory.

          • Ellen B.

            I’m not sure what personal attacks have to do with the topic at hand, but clearly you have some issues. I really don’t care if people want to eat their placenta. For that matter, you shouldn’t either. It’s really none of your business. :)

          • pennyroyal

            I have issues with pseudoscience, with overpopulation, with the sentimentality and foolishness of this discussion by over-entitled, self-absorbed narcissists who care little for the effects of their choices on the planet.

            Here’s some more of this pro-natalist navel-gazing.
            http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/02/books/review/all-joy-and-no-fun-by-jennifer-senior.html?nl=books&emc=edit_bk_20140131

          • Ellen B.

            I agree. Good grief! And I agree… Two out of three ain’t bad! But you really should stop being so foolish and narcissistic… it might help with your issues. Thank God you won’t be contributing to this horrid overpopulation!

            By the way, thanks for the new nickname for my family! We’ll wear it with pride…. Breeder and the Baby Factory. It has a nice ring to it! Thanks for the laughs!!!

        • Emav

          I think your parents did the world a disservice!

  • Michelle

    Leslie, you missed Mark’s point…

    As far as cannibalism is concerned, wouldn’t breast feeding fall into your arguement as you are taking something from a human body and feeding another? Just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong, no one is getting hurt.

    It’s okay people are different, really!

    • Leslie Jahnke

      My comment wasn’t about cannibalism, it was a statement of fact about the origin of the placenta and why retaining it after birth is dangerous. That’s it.

  • Melissa Dilley Sutphin

    Hard to take someone in the science community seriously when they spell phase “faze”

  • Tania L. Williamson

    OH MY GOD WE AREN’T DOGS.

  • Mark

    This might come off as a bit over-simplistic, but if the body wanted it, the body would’ve kept it. No?

    • Leslie Jahnke

      Mark…the placenta is of fetal origin so mom is literally eating tissue from her son or daughter. Retaining the placenta post-partum would be dangerous The placenta detaches from the lining of the uterus and loses its oxygen supply and placental blood circulation ends when the cord is cut.

      • DocNordic

        The placenta is both maternal and fetal in origin. Certain portions are entirely fetal, like the chorionic villi.

  • Bob Freeman

    Am curious — are the benefits due to the placebo effect? Have there been any scientific studies on placentophagy in humans?

    • Dollyrkr

      This is my belief. I think it’s 100% placebo effect. I also think it’s cannibalism.

      • Guest

        Is eating boogers cannibalism?

      • EmiyJenn

        You’re kidding, right?? Surely you’re not genuinely this ignorant. Cannibalism? Humans are the only mammals who DO NOT routinely ingest their placenta after birth.

    • Michelle Luetjen Green

      OHS is currently doing a comprehensive controlled clinical study on this and placebo does not make something less valuable. I discovered a hormone imbalance bc of the radical difference once my pills ran out. It was clear that I must be deficient in iron, b-12 OR PROGESTERONE based on how effective taking the pills were. (The main components that constiture the placenta) Sure enough, it was a severe progesterone deficiency. There is no placebo effect there. Cannabalism is ingesting someone elses human material, or else every booger eating toddler could be called a cannibal.

      • J Call

        um, Who’s OHS?

        Also, snot isn’t part of the body.

        • Michelle Luetjen Green

          OhsU, thanks for catching the typo. Not as good at catching sarcasm though, huh?

  • gardenia

    I am glad that some women have a positive reaction to eating a bit of their own placenta. However, it seems like cannibalism. Repulsive!!!

    • PepperReed

      Donner, party of six…

  • Mass

    Interesting. I wonder if they also pick their nose to boost their immune system? Or do fecal swaps for gut health?

    Interesting to note that the placenta is generated by the child. Also the science seems thin on the benefits of consumption although risk seems minimal too. http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/eating-placentas-cannibalism-recycling-or-health-food/

  • Cythina Lang

    It is a scientific fact that most placental mammals participate in placentophagy (i.e. eating the placenta), including herbivores (i.e. mammals that are vegetarian) and primates. But none of them wait till days after the birth to do it. :)

    • Hunter Lucas

      Many of those same animals will eat their young if they’re stillborn. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Gretchen Schmidt Bishay

      My dog ate her poop, given the opportunity, so I am not swayed by the argument that animals do it.

    • Laura

      Because of the smell attracting predators likely.

      • Amy Peterson

        This was once a hypothesis, but has been discarded because both animals that den for birth and animals that immediately leave the birth location both eat the afterbirth.

  • w. jones

    Actually, it has been studied, both in humans and in animals. Placentophagy isn’t new. And I don’t think she said anything about people’s negative reactions being about safety or efficacy. She just said people have negative reactions to this practice, just like anything else in life. I don’t think she was pointing fingers or being snide. Her site has some of the studies.

  • Guest

    Placenta-eating has not been studied enough to know whether it is
    safe and effective, despite the anecdotal, self-reported claims by the
    women in the survey and the claims of people who are trying to sell a
    $150 – $200 service to prepare the placenta for consumption. (Placenta
    and pepperoni pizza, followed by placenta pie, and pickled placenta for
    later, anyone?)

    Finally, why does the author accuse those concerned about the safety and efficacy of placenta eating of having “negative attitudes”? If there is currently no good evidence that placenta-eating is safe and effective, then skepticism about the practice is not a “negative attitude” but a rational disbelief in statements whose truth has not been established by evidence.

    • Amy Peterson

      The FDA does not prove drugs safe and effective – have you watched any of those drug commercials with the 20 minute list of possible side effects often including death? As much as I look forward to seeing empirical evidence of the benefits of eating placenta, I fervently believe that it is a right to do what ever I wish with the placenta that my body creates. No one should have the right to tell you you CANNOT eat your placenta – or take home your placenta, or make placenta prints with it or display it as art. The bottom line is that it is a matter of individual choice that should not be controlled by the government or hospitals.

      There is no difference between eating your placenat and eating a beef steak or a chicken egg. In fact it could be argued that placenta eating is the only humane way to consume meat. I consider it vegan because nothing had to die for me to gain from it’s energy. You can’t even say that about lettuce. I think it is hypocritical to say placenta eating is gross and then sit down to dine on the flesh of an animal that was raised specifically to die to feed you.
      Consuming your own placenta is actually safer than eating the meat from another animal that may carry disease for which you do not have immunity.

      As for the placebo effect? It has been proven and if that is what is at work here – what’s the difference? The outcome is still the same.
      UNLV is in the process of doing the first double blind studies and should be able to answer a lot of these questions.