Placentophagia (or eating the placenta) is when someone, usually the mother, eats the placenta after birth.People who try to convince you to eat the placenta after birth claim that the placenta is rich in certain ingredients which are supposed to help you after the delivery of the baby. They falsely claim that eating the placenta decreases depression, improves breast milk supply, improves energy, shrinks the uterus, etc etc. Nothing is further from the truth.
There is absolutely no established scientific truth that eating the placenta has any benefits whatsoever. A search of the medical literature found no reliable studies showing that the placenta has helpful ingredients or that eating the placenta helps solve any problems.
People trying to convince you to eat your placenta have usually one goal in mind and that is to make a profit. They charge you a lot to prepare the placenta for consumption.
The argument that eating the placenta is not unusual in the animal world is being used by those trying to convince you to eat placenta. If it's good for other animals, why wouldn't it be good for you? However, the concept of eating one's own excrement or feces, something called coprophagia, is also widespread in the animal world. Gorillas, elephants, cats, koalas, hippos, etc eat their own excrement. How would you feel about that as an argument to eat your own feces? Not a nice thought. And animals have no problem eating each other, even their own species. A good idea?
Even after intensive research, I could not find any established human culture that has placentophagia or eating placenta as part of their regular culture.
When thinking about why some people try to convince you to eat your placenta, the term "snake oil" comes to mind. The phrase snake oil is a negative term used to describe quackery, the promotion of fraudulent or unproven medical practices. According to Wikipedia, Chinese labourers on railroad gangs in the 1800's involved in building the First Transcontinental Railroad first gave something they called "snake oil" to Europeans with joint pain. When rubbed on the skin at the painful site, snake oil was claimed to bring relief. This claim was ridiculed by rival medicine salesmen, and in time, snake oil became a generic name for many compounds marketed as panaceas or miraculous remedies whose ingredients were usually secret, unidentified, or mis-characterized and mostly inert or ineffective. None of them ever held up to scientific proof and they served only the purpose of enriching those who sold them.
The facts are clear:
- There is no scientific medically valid study that shows that the placenta has helpful ingredients
- There is no scientific medically valid study that shows that eating the placenta has any helful reason or that it helps a woman recover after birth.
- There is no scientific medically valid study that shows that eating the placenta is safe.
Why in the world would you ever eat anything that has not been proven to be safe? Why in the world would you eat something where you don't know what it's ingredients are? Why would you? Really? What exactly are those hormones, nutrients, proteins, vitamins that the placenta supposedly has? What happens to them anyway when you heat, cook, or freeze dry the placenta as some have recommended?
During your pregnancy you have abstained from unknown and potentially harmful ingredients. You have been a good mom. No alcohol, no cigarettes, no junk, only healthy food. You even eat organic food because it's supposedly better. So why would you now eat something as unknown as the placenta? Where is the evidence that it's good for you? Who has proven it's safe? What does the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration say about the safety of eating placenta?
In fact, the placental tissue has the same genetic composition or DNA that the baby has. It has the same chromosomes the same DNA as the baby. During pregnancy, a placental biopsy is used for an examination because it reflects the baby's chromosomal composition and DNA. So when you eat placenta, by extension, you eat the baby's DNA, it's own flesh. A "cannibal" is someone who eats human flesh. But contrary to eating placenta, cannibalism is part of several human cultures. What a thought.