Flashback Friday: There’s no proof that eating your placenta has any health benefits.

By Seriously Science | May 26, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/danox

Photo: flickr/danox

Eating your own placenta: some people (many of them celebrities) claim that it is a miracle cure-all, helping a new mother overcome everything from postpartum depression to low milk production. But is there actually any proof to these claims? Not that pro-placentophagers (we just made that word up) will likely care, but according to this meta-analysis of the literature, there is little scientific proof for any of these health claims. More specifically, the authors conclude that “studies investigating placenta consumption for facilitating uterine contraction, resumption of normal cyclic estrogen cycle, and milk production are inconclusive.” Sorry, Matthew McConaughey.

Placentophagy: therapeutic miracle or myth?

“Postpartum women are consuming their placentas encapsulated, cooked, and raw for the prevention of postpartum depression (PPD), pain relief, and other health benefits. Placentophagy is supported by health advocates who assert that the placenta retains hormones and nutrients that are beneficial to the mother. A computerized search was conducted using PubMed, Medline Ovid, and PsychINFO between January 1950 and January 2014. Keywords included placentophagy, placentophagia, maternal placentophagia, maternal placentophagy, human placentophagia, and human placentophagy. A total of 49 articles were identified. Empirical studies of human or animal consumption of human placentas were included. Editorial commentaries were excluded. Animal placentophagy studies were chosen based on their relevance to human practice. Ten articles (four human, six animal) were selected for inclusion. A minority of women in developed countries perceive placentophagy to reduce PPD risk and enhance recovery. Experimental animal research in support of pain reduction has not been applied in humans. Studies investigating placenta consumption for facilitating uterine contraction, resumption of normal cyclic estrogen cycle, and milk production are inconclusive. The health benefits and risks of placentophagy require further investigation of the retained contents of raw, cooked, and encapsulated placenta and its effects on the postpartum woman.”

Related content:
Sorry, pregnancy doesn’t actually improve your sense of smell.
Double feature: amniotic fluid tastes like mom’s dinner.
Friday flashback: That’s one miraculous conception.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: diy medicine, eat me
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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Deuteronomy 28:57-59

    “If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name – the Lord your God – the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses.”

    Mandatory placenta eating is every bit as ponderously mandatory as pregnant women fed ayurvedic medicine’s Panchagavya pañcagavyam rendering their babies of lighter skin and more intelligent.

  • Not_that_anyone_cares, but…

    Back when some farm animals were allowed to give birth somewhat on their own they usually ate or at least licked and masticated the placenta. Their must be some obscure benefit.

    • OWilson

      It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to come up with any number of possible evolutionary benefits:

      Free protein for a temporarily weakened mother, or even just hungry, mother. Cleaning up the den to discourage scavenging animals, or even preventing the potential danger from rotting decomposing animal waste.

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