Placentophagy, or the ingestion of one’s own placenta, might sound like a new thing, but it is actually a practice done around the globe by many mammalian species. Historically, many cultures from Egyptian to Chinese to Native American have engaged in this practice in one form or another, ingesting the placenta to cure maladies, aid in postpartum recovery, and soothe infants.
Modern placentophagy usually comes in the form of encapsulation, in which your placenta is dehydrated, ground into a fine powder, and placed in capsules for easy consumption. There are two common methods of encapsulation:
Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which the placenta is first steamed with “warming” herbs before dehydration
Raw method, in which the placenta is dehydrated raw, retaining many of the benefits that would otherwise be lost in the cooking process
Why encapsulate? Your placenta is full of nutrients and hormones that have nourished your baby, and many mothers feel that those nutrients can still be put to good use to help with milk supply, postpartum recovery, and avoiding postpartum depression. Among the many components found in the placenta, researchers have found:
- Prolactin, the hormone responsible for lactation(milk production)
- Oxytocin, the “love” hormone that helps with bonding and breastfeeding
- Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII, clotting agents that help reduce postpartum bleeding and speed up healing
- Thyroid stimulating hormone, which increases energy and recovery from stressors
- Cortisone, which helps reduce stress and access energy
- Interferon, an immune booster to combat infections
- Prostaglandins, anti-inflammatories
- Hemoglobin, which helps you replenish your iron after birth
- Gonadotrophin, a hormone that is the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone
- Gammaglobulin, another immunity-enhancing substance
Because so few humans encapsulate, the research phase is still in its infancy. However, early research indicates that placentophagy is not at all harmful and may provide some benefits to new mothers. Many mothers report that ingesting placenta capsules gave them more energy, better bonding experiences, faster recoveries, and better milk production than with births for which they did not encapsulate.
For more information about your capsules and tinctures go to the following pages:
Placenta encapsulation has not been evaluated or endorsed by the FDA and this is not meant to substitute for medical advice. Please consult with a trusted health professional before using this or any supplement.