Mothers consuming their placenta after a baby's birth can be traced back thousands of years, but the evidence of the benefits associated with it are not so easily found.
Whether it be in capsule form, cooked or blended into a drink, placenta has been said to give mothers numerous benefits including replenishing vitamins in the body, stopping postpartum depression, increasing energy and aiding lactation.
A new study from the Archives of Women's Mental Health by Northwestern Medicine has looked into the little research done on the benefits of placenta eating. It was discovered that there is not conclusive evidence to support it being valuable.
The study reviewed ten scholarly research articles on the subject and found that neither humans nor animals, who regularly eat placenta, gain any true advantage from doing so.
Co-authors of the study, Cynthia Coyle and Dr. Crystal Clark, were surprised by the lack of research done on the topic of placentophagy, the act of consuming placenta.
“Our sense is that women choosing placentophagy, who may otherwise be very careful about what they are putting into their bodies during pregnancy and nursing, are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants,” said Coyle.
The placenta is what keeps the fetus protected from harmful toxins in the mother’s body by blocking out components like lead and mercury.
In addition to metals, the placenta is known to contain a variety of bacteria that are beneficial to a fetus, but may not be as healthy for consumption by the mother.
“There are no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, and the dosing is inconsistent. Women really don't know what they are ingesting,” said Coyle.
It is unknown how exactly the placenta eating affects the mother, and whether it has a risk factor for the child while breastfeeding.
While the consumption of the placenta had not been a widespread activity in the modern world, it has recently become more common.
“'The popularity has spiked in the last few years.