Today's Special: Placenta

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Waiting for the PlacentaImage by premasagar via Flickr

The human body has very little respect from most people. Our functions are gross and our insides are 'guts' and natural human processes are below us more new and improved 'civilized' people. We apologize for gas, we turn taps on in the bathroom so no one can hear and we cover our babies as they eat from our breasts. Human beings have become very phobic of their naturalness.

Women's bodies, functions and naturalness seem to be at the top of that phobia list though. From sexuality, to lactation, to PMS and 'that-time-of-the-month' all the way to childbirth and aging...nearly every process a woman goes through is moralized and demonized for a lack of understanding and a need to control.

These were my thoughts as I read a sentence about women eating their placenta or 'Placentophagy'. Is a normal human (female) behavior worthy of ridicule or worse, comparisons to hexes and witchcraft (with negative implications) or is it worthy of respect?

Placentophagy is common in nearly all placental mammals. In the non-human animal kingdom, the placenta provides important nutrition to the mother, contrary to the popular idea that it is done to hide evidence of birth. Pregnancy takes a lot from the females body and the placenta is full of vital nutrients to keep the mother healthy through the postpartum and nursing period.

Placentophagy has been practised throughout time in places all over the world. In fact, the word 'placenta' literally means 'mother cake' suggesting that it was normal at one time to consume the placenta. In Chinese medicine, placenta is dried and used as an ingredient in traditional medicine. The benefits of the placenta have been and still are seen as vitally important and at the very least worthy of respect in many cultures. Placenta traditions include burying of the placenta in a garden and planting a tree on top of it, symbolizing the life giving aspect of the placenta. In our culture, however, it is treated a human waste and used to make skin cream.

So what are the benefits of consuming the placenta? It contracts and cleanses the uterus, eases the stress of birth on the body, eases post partum pain and hemorrhaging, promotes lactation and provides nutrition. Recent studies also suggest that the hormones present in the placenta may actually deter the onset of PPD. This is GOOD for women and should be supported and encouraged instead of demeaned and demoralized, and then turned around to make a profit.

There are many different ways to consume the placenta and receive it's benefits. It can be eaten raw, cooked using a variety of recipes, added to smoothies and even dried and made into capsules to take daily like a vitamin.

A recent NBC segment explores the practice of placenta encapsulation and it's benefits to postpartum women and suggests that this ancient tradition is making a comeback with new Mom's.  If you are interested in placenta encapsulation check out these sites for further information;

The Amazing Placenta By Sarah Buckley, MD Article on how to prepare placenta for encapsulation note that if you do not have a dehydrator you can use the oven on low heat.

Find someone else to do it at or purchase a kit

The placenta powder can also be added to your favourite food and put into smoothies.

Another option is too cook and consume the placenta, although this seems to be a less popular route to take! here is an interesting video of a man preparing his newborns placenta to eat.

Bon Appetite!
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