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Would You Eat Your Own Placenta? Here Are the Facts Why You Shouldn’t

There is no data that supports any of the claims that eating the placenta either raw, cooked, or encapsulated  can give protection against postpartum depression, reduce post-delivery pain, boost energy, or help with lactation. (Image: Pixabay/ CC0 Public Domain)
There is no data that supports any of the claims that eating the placenta either raw, cooked, or encapsulated can give protection against postpartum depression, reduce post-delivery pain, boost energy, or help with lactation. (Image: Pixabay/ CC0 Public Domain)

With celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian raving about the benefits of eating her placenta, it seems to have started a spike in women’s interest in the practice. If you are one of those women, then you should think again, as a new study suggests that these claims are not based on any scientific evidence.

This is still a very controversial practice, so choose carefully and thoughtfully.

“There are a lot of subjective reports from women who perceived benefits, but there hasn’t been any systematic research investigating the benefits or the risk of placenta ingestion. The studies on mice aren’t translatable into human benefits,” said corresponding study author Dr. Crystal Clark, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a psychiatrist, in a statement.

Eat your own placenta medical course:

The study was published in the journal Archives of Women’s Mental Health. The researchers reviewed 10 published papers that looked at the health benefits of placentophagy (consuming the placenta). There was no data to support any of the claims that eating the placenta either raw, cooked, or encapsulated gives protection against post-partum depression, reduces post-delivery pain, boosts energy, helps with lactation, promotes skin elasticity, enhances maternal bonding, or replenishes iron in the body.

The placenta is what separates a mother’s blood supply from her fetus, and also connects the two. It plays the important role of providing the fetus with oxygen and nutrients, and produces the hormones it needs to grow.

Placenta smoothies and tacos are trendy:

The placenta is also a line of defense between the fetus and any possible infections. As a result, the placenta is not sterile, as it’s exposed to the harmful substances from which it protects the fetus. Bacteria, and elements including mercury and lead, have been found in post-term placental tissues. Researchers warn that the potential adverse effects of these components are unknown and require further research, IFL Science wrote.

“Our sense is that women choosing placentophagy, who may otherwise be very careful about what they are putting into their bodies during pregnancy and nursing, are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants,” said lead author Cynthia Coyle, a Feinberg faculty member and a psychologist.

My experience eating my placenta:

Proponents suggest that there is a long history of placentophagy in traditional Chinese medicine, dating back to the 16th century. The study disputes this, however, arguing that while there is historic evidence that Zi He Che (the Chinese term for dried human placenta) has been used to treat diseases, there is no clear evidence that women were eating their own placentas, IFL Science added.

‘The popularity has spiked in the last few years,” Clark said. “Our sense is that people aren’t making this decision based on science or talking with physicians. Some women are making this based on media reports, blogs, and websites.”

Researchers are hoping that this study may help to start discussions between expectant parents and their doctors. This will help separate fact from fiction so women can plan their pregnancies accordingly.

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