I was laying in bed going through re-runs of Keeping Up With the Kardashians (please don’t hate me), and all of a sudden I arrived at a scene that made my palette cringe. Kourtney’s personal chef was preparing human placenta for the whole family! I then arrived at a series of thoughts regarding placentophagy. Is it really beneficial, scientifically accurate, ethically appropriate or socially acceptable?
Encapsulation is the common method of placenta consumption. Samantha Birch, who prepares placenta for many of her clients, declares “it is best to digest the placenta fresh after birth”. She even provided a smoothie recipe!
Birch’s Quick and Easy Protein Smoothie!
“Put a walnut size piece of placenta into a smoothie with water, organic banana and berries of the mother’s choice”.
However, what compels this placenta craving? All of the possible health benefits ofcourse! So many, that The Placenta Benefits.info have even constructed a list!
Mother, Victoria Drennan, ate her own placenta and was very content with the results. She claimed to have increased energy levels, higher milk production and avoided the baby blues.
“I didn’t expect to have the energy that I did have, so I do put that down to the [placenta] pills”.
But how scientifically reliable are these claims?
A recent study from North-western University, concluded that placenta consumption does not increase energy production nor delay depression after birth. The research reviewed 10 articles in relation to placentophagy and found no credible data to support the statements.
Leading the study, psychologist Cynthia Coyle, expressed her dismay in “ingesting something without evidence of its benefits and more importantly, of its potential risks”.
I personally think further research into the matter can help establish a safer consumption protocol and help uncover the benefits, if any.
Many question the ethics behind placentophagy in both a negative and positive manner. Some claim that the practice condones cannibalism because placenta is an human organ.
Others suggest that it is a form of recycling that helps replenish nutrients such as iron lost during pregnancy!
Spinning it in any light, the reality of ethics comes down to intention. If one ingests placenta in order to improve their wellbeing it is their right.
Placentophagy is a socially accepted practice within Polynesian, Asian and African cultures. Native Historians preach that placenta is sacred and vital to physical health. A law was introduced in Aloha state Hawaii, that permit parents to keep the placenta as a given right!
In comparison, placentophagy is generally looked down upon in Western societies and is classified as biological waste. However, it has been growing as a trend due to the exposure from high profiled celebrities.
The social appropriateness is purely is subjective. Whether a mother wants to try duck, kangaroo or placenta it is a personal decision.
So, will you put placenta on your plate?
Hall, H 2011, Eating Placentas: Cannibalism, Recycling, or Health Food?, viewed 1st April 2016, <https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/eating-placentas-cannibalism-recycling-or-health-food/>.
Haroon, H 2013, Placenta Smoothies, Anyone? A Look at the Practice and Effects of Placentophagia, viewed 1st April, <http://www.mindthesciencegap.org/2013/03/23/placenta-smoothies-anyone-a-look-at-the-practice-and-effects-of-placentophagia/>.
Lauer, N 2006, Hawaiian Law Now Permits Parents to Keep Placentas, viewed 4th April, <http://womensenews.org/2006/07/hawaiian-law-now-permits-parents-keep-placentas/>.
Martinez, T 2015, Encapsulating & Consuming Placenta, viewed 5th April 2016, < https://www.growinggenerations.com/resources-for-surrogates/encapsulating-consuming-placenta/>.
Matthews, A 2015, Eating placenta after birth carries no health benefits new study finds, viewed 1st April 2016, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/no-health-benefits-from-eating-placenta/6530106>.
Placenta Benefits. Info, 2006-2016, Why I Should Take Placenta Capsules?, viewed 2nd April 2016, < http://placentabenefits.info/articles.asp>.