The placenta is the organ that surrounds the fetus in the womb and allows for the exchange of nutrients, blood, and waste with the mother. It is expelled from the uterus after the birth of the child. The custom of consuming the placenta, often done as placental encapsulation, is centuries old, practiced most often in Chinese medicine. It is a controversial tradition that has been gaining traction in the United States for several decades.
The few scientific studies conducted on placental encapsulation have not conclusively supported the effects of this practice, nor have they completely dispelled the possibility of benefits from ingesting the placenta. However, it should be noted by expectant mothers that the majority of the information we have regarding placental encapsulation comes almost entirely from anecdotes of women who have tried it.
What Are The Proposed Benefits Of Placental Encapsulation?
There is little scientific research available regarding placental encapsulation and consumption and its benefits. Tradition and holistic medical customs embrace a number of potential advantages which come from ingesting the placenta.
Among these possible benefits are:
Increased release of the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to normal size and encourages bonding with the infant
Increase in CRH, a stress-reducing hormone
Decrease in post-partum depression levels
Restoration of iron levels in the blood
Increase in milk production
Is Placental Encapsulation Safe?
Placental encapsulation appears to carry no inherent risk if ingested solely by the mother. Some mothers have reported experiencing negative symptoms such as dizziness or jitteriness after taking the pills. Again, most of the information regarding this practice is amassed from anecdotes, and not from research. In addition, if taken by other family members or friends, one must be aware of the possibility of passing along blood-borne diseases.
Also, if the placenta needs to be stored for any period of time, it must be kept refrigerated like any other meat product.