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.
Am J Obstet Gynecol.
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.
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.