Placenta Eating: Would You Do It?

Placenta eating is back on trend! Though popular in the late 1960s – 1970s, it gained new exposure about a couple of years ago via vocal celeb moms and mommy bloggers. They spoke about how after they’ve given birth, they keep their placenta to consume for “nutrients”. The placenta, according to Wikipedia, is, “an organ that connects the developing fetus to the uterine wall to allow nutrient uptake, waste elimination and gas exchange via the mother’s blood supply.” That sounds delicious!

On placenta consumption, Mad Men actress January Jones was quoted about a year ago in People Magazine saying,

In the April UK issue of Glamour Magazine, the actress admitted,

Holly Madison (of The Girls Next Door and other Playboy endeavors), though, has no problem talking about her nomming on placenta. As quoted in The Huffington Post,

Let’s look at the science behind this. Does eating placenta have any health benefits for moms?

While researching placentophagia (the act of eating placenta, a word I didn’t know existed until my research) I found the leading expert in the field, Mark Kristal, PhD, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College. He and fellow colleagues Jean M. DiPirro, PhD, associate professor, Department of Psychology and Alexis C. Thompson, PhD, research associate professor, UB Department of Psychology and a research scientist in the UB Research Institute on Addictions just published a massive paper on the subject. Here are some key points about it and in their volume, Human Maternal Placentophagy: A Survey of Self-Reported Motivations and Experiences Associated with Placenta Consumption, No, Seriously, You Guys. (Okay I added the “No, Seriously, You Guys” part but the rest is real.) The italics and bold are for my emphasis:

Basically, most of the benefits of human placenta consumption are more than likely due to the placebo effect. There is proof that it helps with non-human mammals, but not quite enough research to prove that it’s helpful to all human mothers. It seems like it’s on a case-by-case basis; what may appear to have benefits for one mom may do nothing for another. As always, it’s also important to realize that anecdotes are not facts. Here’s my thing I don’t understand about the “we’re the only mammals who don’t _______ so why do we?” argument. Animals do a lot of things that we don’t. We’re also the only mammals who don’t eat each other. I never really understood the approach of looking at an animal and saying, “We need to do what this is doing.”

What do you think? Did you, or anyone you know, consume placenta? And if you’re pregnant or think you ever will be, would you? Even if it turns out there aren’t any scientifically or medically proven benefits?

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