Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Placenta, Back in the Oven!

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?

Benefits

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”.

 placenta_smoothiesClick for photo source

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!

  • Replenish iron depletion
  • Increased energy production
  • Increase milk production
  • Happier postpartum period
  • Helpful during menopause

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”.

eating-placenta-after-birth

Click for photo source

Scientific Research

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.

Ethics

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.

Social Implications

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?

 

 

 

References:

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/&gt;.

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/&gt;.

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/&gt;.

Martinez, T 2015, Encapsulating & Consuming Placenta, viewed 5th April 2016, < https://www.growinggenerations.com/resources-for-surrogates/encapsulating-consuming-placenta/&gt;.

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&gt;.

Placenta Benefits. Info, 2006-2016, Why I Should Take Placenta Capsules?, viewed 2nd April 2016, < http://placentabenefits.info/articles.asp&gt;.

 

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4 comments on “Placenta, Back in the Oven!

  1. claudiablain
    April 19, 2016

    Very different topic! The title caught my eye. I really liked the personal feel and humor to the way the blog is written. The structure makes it easy to read, i.e. the sections and the dot points. The use of pictures separates it nicely. You have provided a good range of links and sources to follow.
    Overall, it is very well set out, flowing and easy to read. The beginning really reeled me in and had me learning about something I would have probably never would have looked up myself.

    Like

    • anberzara
      April 21, 2016

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

      Like

  2. Adam
    May 4, 2016

    Haha, great topic.

    You have a really good conversational and humorous tone, very easy to read.

    Format wise, can you please change it from centred text. This might be a personal bug bear of mine but I find it harder to read and a little distracting.

    I think you have set out the blog well and flows easily. It would be great if you could incorporate the references into the text as hyperlinks.

    Have a re-read and look for spelling and grammar errors, i found a couple.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    Like

  3. tanvi05
    May 8, 2016

    Defiantly thumps up to the title! Straight away i thought of Keeping Up With the Kardashians (you’re not alone). Your first paragraph is attention grabbing, it got my attention and made me very interested to read further. The way you have structured your blog is very easy to read and follow. I really liked the way you have separated into 3 different parts: Scientific Research, Ethics and Social Implications. Overall, very interesting topic and really good blog.

    Like

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This entry was posted on April 19, 2016 by in Burwood - Thursday 2pm.

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