The Placenta is a Life Saving Organ, But Would Not Recommend Eating Your Placenta Until More Research Is Done As There Are Reported Risks

A patient recently asked me about the practice of sending one’s placenta to a company to grind into capsules to eat after giving birth. When I first heard about this practice, I was shocked at the idea.
I know that goats and other animals and rodents (apparently rats do this below) eat their placenta, but the idea of a human eating placenta was a shocker.

Recent reports, though, note the danger of eating a placenta termed placentophagy. (Reference 1)

The CDC recently warned against placentophagy after a newborn baby developed Neonatal Group B Streptococcus Sepsis, a potentially deadly diagnosis, after the mother injested contaminated placenta capsules. Thus the CDC recommends not eating placenta.

Still the placenta is a life saving organ not only for the baby in utero but after the birth of the baby. Cord Blood Serum and the Amniotic Membrane from the placenta can save a patient’s life when donated. CBS has been used for years now to help children with leukemia and lymphoma. Amniotic Membrane can be a miraculous cure for a patient with non-healing ulcers of the body, skin, and cornea. Amniotic membrane also help relieve patients from chronic eye pain who otherwise would consider narcotics and even suicide to relieve the pain. (Reference 2)

It is a travesty so many patients, doctors, and hospitals throw out the placenta and cord and cord blood when it could be donated to help many patients.




 2018 Apr;218(4):401.e1-401.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2017.08.016. Epub 2017 Aug 30.

Human placentophagy: a review.


Placentophagy or placentophagia, the postpartum ingestion of the placenta, is widespread among mammals; however, no contemporary human culture incorporates eating placenta postpartum as part of its traditions. At present, there is an increasing interest in placentophagy among postpartum women, especially in the United States. The placenta can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted, dehydrated, or encapsulated or through smoothies and tinctures. The most frequently used preparation appears to be placenta encapsulation after steaming and dehydration. Numerous companies offer to prepare the placenta for consumption, although the evidence for positive effects of human placentophagy is anecdotal and limited to self-reported surveys. Without any scientific evidence, individuals promoting placentophagy, especially in the form of placenta encapsulation, claim that it is associated with certain physical and psychosocial benefits. We found that there is no scientific evidence of any clinical benefit of placentophagy among humans, and no placental nutrients and hormones are retained in sufficient amounts after placenta encapsulation to be potentially helpful to the mother postpartum. In contrast to the belief of clinical benefits associated with human placentophagy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a warning due to a case in which a newborn infant developed recurrent neonatal group B Streptococcus sepsis after the mother ingested contaminated placentacapsules containing Streptococcus agalactiae. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that the intake of placentacapsules should be avoided owing to inadequate eradication of infectious pathogens during the encapsulation process. Therefore, in response to a woman who expresses an interest in placentophagy, physicians should inform her about the reported risks and the absence of clinical benefits associated with the ingestion. In addition, clinicians should inquire regarding a history of placenta ingestion in cases of postpartum maternal or neonatal infections such as group B Streptococcus sepsis. In conclusion, there is no professional responsibility on clinicians to offer placentophagy to pregnant women. Moreover, because placentophagy is potentially harmful with no documented benefit, counseling women should be directive: physicians should discourage this practice. Health care organizations should develop clear clinical guidelines to implement a scientific and professional approach to human placentophagy.



 1985 Oct;35(4):481-6.

Placenta ingestion enhances opiate analgesia in rats.


Analgesia, produced by either a morphine injection or footshock, was monitored (using a tail-flick test) in nonpregnant female rats. Analgesia was induced within minutes of having the rats eat one of several substances. When the substance eaten was rat placenta, both the morphine- and shock-induced types of analgesia were significantly greater than in controls that ingested other substances (or nothing). When footshock (hind-paw) was administered in conjunction with the opiate antagonist naltrexone, the analgesia produced was attenuated but detectable; in this case, placenta ingestion did not enhance the analgesia, suggesting that the effect of placenta is specific to opiate-mediated analgesia. Placenta ingestion, in the absence of an analgesia-producing manipulation, did not elevate pain threshold. It is possible that this enhancement of analgesia is one of the principal benefits to mammalian mothers of ingesting the placenta and birth fluids (placentophagia) at delivery.

I Regret Eating My Placenta

It’s not as gross as it sounds, but then, it couldn’t possibly be, right? As a first-time pregnant lady living in crunchy Santa Monica, Calif., next to a raw food restaurant and a seemingly oxymoronic homeopathic pharmacy, hiring a so-called celebrity placenta processor seemed to make sense. Even the hospital birth class had suggested the practice of eating one’s own placenta as a natural way to ward off postpartum depression. It’s normal. It’s natural. EvenJanuary Jones is doing it.
Additional potential benefits of a placenta pill included the ability to improve breast milk supply, increase energy and even prevent aging. Talk about a miracle pill! Who wouldn’t sign up for placentophagia, the scientific word (usually referring to animals) for the practice of eating one’s own placenta?
Me — or at least, the prepregnant me. I’ve spent my career helping young women to avoid scams and misperceptions that prey on their body insecurities, and I pride myself on thorough research and general common sense. The old Nancy would have pulled the placenta pills out of a friend’s hand screaming, “You don’t know what’s actually in that! Natural doesn’t always mean good.”
But impending motherhood had shaken me. Delivery room horror stories and tales of baby blues caused my husband and me to spend months educating ourselves to best navigate the worst possible outcomes. So we were blindsided by the one scenario that seemed least likely: an awesome labor and delivery. Still, I was so freaked out about the possibility of awful things happening to me that I started taking the placenta pills as a sort of insurance policy.
After our son’s birth, I was meticulous about what went into my body. I declined all pain medication stronger than ibuprofen, and I even stopped using deodorant, fearing the rumors were true that aluminum might seep into my breast milk. I was a cheerful and healthy new mother. So why did I gobble placenta ground with what the processor mysteriously referred to as “cleansing herbs”? Somehow, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
But in my case, it was a terrible idea. Shortly after my first dose of two pills, I felt jittery and weird. By the next day, after just eight placenta pills, I was in tabloid-worthy meltdown mode, a frightening phase filled with tears and rage. This lasted another couple of awful days before my husband suggested that it wasn’t postpartum mommy madness finally making its appearance, but the hormone-and-goodness-knows-what-else-filled placenta pills.
My husband isn’t a doctor (though he is the son of doctors and has played one on screen), but he was right. After I went cold turkey on the placenta pills, I immediately felt better —exorcised even, of an entity that had willingly left my body but that I had stupidly, and with no medical supervision, scarfed back up.
Motherhood returned to being marvelous, save sleep deprivation. At my six-week checkup, I told my wonderful obstetrician that she should have never let me take my placenta home (medical consent is necessary at most hospitals, and she had somewhat grudgingly plopped my placenta in a to-go plastic bag as soon as I delivered it). While the Internet is teeming with individual pro-placenta stories, they are as anecdotal, and in my case as absurdly off beam, as alien sightings. Eight months later my son and I are fine, but I’m kicking myself for being so gullible without a single shred of proof.
Perhaps one day there will be clinical studies on human placentophagia, and we’ll find out more about the pros and cons of the practice. Possibly we’ll eventually be able to obtain a prescription for placenta processing, to make sure we know what’s really in those “cleansing herbs.” These are all concerns I have with the unregulated process in hindsight, which of course is always 20/20. And I wonder: how many other women are putting their trust in their placenta as a minimizer of baby blues when it very well may be a cause of their mama drama?
Maybe it was sheer coincidence that I went nuts right after I started taking my placental pills and returned to normal almost immediately after stopping. If I had continued, I might not have all this new gray hair, and I might have lost this stubborn baby weight faster. Who knows? I do know that I regret eating my placenta — if only because I am disappointed in myself for letting fear and insecurity cause me to make a potentially dangerous decision without doing due diligence on its safety.
Part of the reason I wanted to eat my placenta in the first place is that I am fascinated by the human body and all that it can do. The placenta is an incredible organ that deserves celebration. But — as with the appendix and other organs that the body tends to deem unnecessary — once it comes out, maybe it should stay out.
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