When speaking to people, if you mention eating a placenta (or ‘placentophagy’ as it is scientifically known), they often get that look on their face, you know the one, like they may need a garbage pail in a few moments. Placentophagy though often joked about, has been used in traditional chinese medicine (TCM) as long ago as in the 1500’s, which is longer than modern medicine has existed. Other cultures that find it customary to prepare the placenta for the mother or are known to consume part or all of the placenta include the Chinese, Vietnamese, Hungarians and Italians. These cultures believe that the placenta is rich in nutrients that will greatly assist the mother to recover from childbirth, including slowing and stopping haemorrhaging during childbirth and helping with milk supply. The practice has continued for centuries due to an abundance of great properties believed to make a huge difference to a new mother’s mental health, recovery and well being. After birth, the majority of new mothers experience blood loss, fatigue, and a crazy influx of pregnancy hormones. 80% of women experience some level of postpartum blues or depression.
Most mammals eat their own placentas right after giving birth and scientists aren't certain why they do it. They’ve theorized that these animals eat their placentas for nourishment, to replenish their bodies’ hormones, or as a way of tidying up. Some scientists have observed that rats who eat placentas seem to be more immediately attentive to pups. Those placenta-eating rats also exhibit a higher pain threshold. It’s not clear what this evidence might teach us about humans. Now I am not saying just because animals do it we should, but maybe, without social pressures and cultural norms, animals instincts are on the right track.
What Are The Benefits Of Placenta Encapsulation?
· Help to balance your hormones
· Replenish depleted iron levels
· Assist the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state
· Reduce post-natal bleeding
· Increase milk production – this has been proven in a study
· Make for a happier, more enjoyable post-natal period
· Increase your energy levels
The known ingredients that give the placenta its potential healing properties are:
· Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone
· Prolactin: promotes lactation,
· Oxytocin: for pain and bonding; produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding of mother and infant. In pharmaceutical form this is a very addictive drug because it promotes a feeling of connectedness with others,
· Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events,
· Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores,
· Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections,
· Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory,
· Hemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia, a common postpartum condition,
· Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing,
· Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections.
What Is The Process To Encapsulate The Placenta?
Once you have organised someone to provide the encapsulation services for you, they will want to collect the placenta within 48 hours of the birth for a few reasons.
Firstly for safety and health reasons, but also because you are likely to feel your worst emotionally on day 4 or 5, so its ideal to have your encapsulated placenta pills back as soon as possible, to help you through.
Ideally your placenta has been refrigerated soon after the birth –service providers will not encapsulate the placenta if its been out for too long.
The placenta will take around a day to prepare and dehydrate (if you have frozen your placenta, you will need to add an extra day). Firstly it is washed well and any clots and blood are removed. Depending on the method they use, some placenta encapsulators then steam the placenta (with or without herbs), and some just go straight to the next step of dehydrating the placenta. Following this, the placenta is then ground down into powder form and placed into capsules – so it ends up looking like any other herbs you might take in capsule form.
You can begin taking the capsules as soon as you receive them, storing them in a dark cupboard at room temperature in most climates. Some prefer to put them in the fridge, but take care not to get them wet or they will dissolve. If you live in a tropical or humid climate, the freezer will be the best place to prevent mould. You can expect to receive around 100-200 capsules, which can be frozen for storage if you want to use them for balancing hormones at another time.
Placenta encapsulators have varying schedules – some are also midwives, doulas, natural health practitioners etc, so check with them to be certain on how long it will take once they have your placenta. Some encapsulators offer an in-home service as well as out of home.
What Research or Evidence Exists on Placentophagy?
Unfortunately there has been very little human research done into placentophagy. The Placenta Benefits website does have some related research information but no major studies have been done.
Even though women report benefits from consuming their placenta there can be some unpleasant side effects. As there is no “official” scientific studies a placenta specialist cannot guarantee results from the capsules or any other placenta remedy. Because your placenta is made by you the quality and potency of your placenta smoothie and capsules is unique to your own placenta.
We highly recommend you follow the care instructions given by your Placenta Specialist. Storing your placenta capsules properly, avoiding TCM capsules when ill and not taking over the recommended dose will reduce your chances of experiencing any side effect.
Some side effects may be:
· Mild headaches (a lower dose is recommended to solve this problem)
· Stomach cramping or abdominal pain
· Unexplained lack of milk production
· Emotional symptoms, stress, anxiety, depression
· Unpleasant belching
- See more at: http://placentanetwork.com/placenta-encapsulation-faq-for-pregnant-mothers/#sthash.457FCQxI.dpuf