Which cultures are eating their placenta and why

Superfood? Why mothers eat the placenta

As a smoothie, with broccoli or in Bolognese sauce with spaghetti - there are several recipes circulating on the Internet for utilizing the placenta. It is also popular to have the placenta processed into powder or pills. What are the benefits and risks of ingesting the placenta in whatever form?

After giving birth, eat the placenta - many people lose their appetite just thinking about it. But some swear by it. In technical terms, eating the placenta is called placentophagy.

Eating placenta: the purported benefits of placentophagy

In the animal world, many mammals eat the placenta after giving birth to their young. On the one hand, it is assumed that the animal ingests nutrients that are in the placenta and, on the other hand, it naturally prevents the odor of decay, which could attract predators.

We don't have to fear predators as much, but the nutrients in placenta are a decisive argument for those who eat it after the birth of their child. Allegedly, the mother herself should perceive the tissue as fragrant and also in the raw state as tasty. The fact that milk production should be stimulated by consumption and its regression accelerated would be a not inconsiderable side effect. According to the myth, eating the placenta should also help against postpartum depression and relieve pain, and it should also have an energizing effect. However: Studies have not been able to prove any such or similar advantages that are supposed to come from the consumption of the mother cake.

Recipes from placenta lasagna to placenta in the truest sense of the word can be found in abundance on the Internet. An alternative to this are placental capsules or so-called placenta anosodes, homeopathically prepared remedies made from the cells of the uterus. They are mostly used in the form of globules, which can be made from your own placenta and which should later provide the child with the best homeopathic service, or as mother fat or as versatile placenta powder.

Eating placenta: The trend entails these risks

Gynecologist Alex Farr from the University Clinic for Gynecology at MedUni Vienna has researched the subject and published a statement in the "American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology". In his opinion, is it healthy to eat the placenta? "On the contrary, because the suspected nutrients such as iron, selenium and zinc are not in sufficiently high concentrations in the placenta. However, high concentrations of heavy metals were found in the placenta, which accumulate there during pregnancy," the expert writes. Consumption also carries a risk of infection.

This is shown, for example, in a case in the USA in which a baby became infected with B streptococci because his mother took placenta pills after birth. US health authorities therefore warn against eating the placenta.

In addition, according to Alex Farr, the placenta is medically a waste product. And the expert goes even further: "Since the placenta genetically belongs to the newborn, eating the placenta borders on cannibalism."

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Higher bond with the child? Study shows little effect

Anthropologist Sharon Young from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas conducted a small study to determine whether taking placenta capsules had the effects that some women would hope for.

Her 27 test subjects took capsules daily for three weeks after giving birth. In almost half of the study participants, these were filled with dehydrated and homogenized placenta. The other half received a placebo. All women regularly filled out a questionnaire that asked about their mood and fatigue and their relationship with the offspring.

The result: There were no significant effects. The hormones from the placenta were detectable in the saliva of the women who had ingested the placenta, which means that they were absorbed by the intestine. But these women did not recover from childbirth any faster than the comparison group. They neither had a better mood nor a stronger bond with the child. They only showed a certain decrease in depressive symptoms.

However, the number of subjects in this study is very small, which is why the results should be treated with caution.

Placenta as a cosmetic product

In the area of ​​personal hygiene, too, a special power is ascribed to the placenta. From the 1960s to the early 1980s, cosmetic products containing placenta were "in". One hoped for the rejuvenating effect of growth hormones and creams with names like Hormocenta or even more clearly Placentubex were hardly missing in a mirror cabinet. With the onset of AIDS, these products disappeared from the market.

How does a placenta taste?

It is reported on forums that the placenta tastes like iron. Accordingly, some women compare the taste to that of a very bloody steak. Visually, if everything is fine, a plaster cake is reminiscent of fresh liver. But the afterbirth does not always look the way it should look. The tissue can become calcified, it can have holes or it can have an unfavorable structure. All of this is not without harm to the unborn child.

Incidentally, even die-hard placenta party fans seem to lose their appetite with such a placenta. Placenta carpaccio is therefore not recommended on the relevant pages.

Ultimately, it is up to you whether you plant a tree on it, prepare mother fat or simply enjoy it. From a purely legal point of view, the placenta belongs to the parents - and they can do what they want with it.