Around once a week (sometimes more) I show up like the pizza delivery guy and knock quietly on the door of the home of a family with a new baby. More often than not a new grandmother answers with a skeptical look as she gazes at my full hands. With a timid look on my face I say something like, “Uhhh hi… I’m the placenta guy.” I offer a giant smile as I kick off my shoes hoping to make it in the door to deliver placenta capsules, dried cord and membrane and usually a placenta print or two. I scan the room and find the Momma who has likely endured a rash of skepticism about “placenta medicine” from her family but was eventually convinced by her network of new Moms to try the ‘magic happy pills’.
Despite the fact that almost every mammal on earth consumes their placenta, the rich history of placenta consumption by humans, and the rapidly growing popularity in placenta encapsulation, there is very little research about human consumption of the placenta for medicine. The research that is available is old and inconclusive. That said, many of the folks who offer placenta preparations are hearing back from hundreds, if not thousands, of clients. Some anecdotal trends are fairly clear and are largely, but not exclusively, in support of consuming placenta.
On the anecdotal upside, many clients have reported increased milk production (sometimes 'excessive'), extra energy, quicker healing, feelings of 'balance,' joy, and reduced feelings of post partum depression. Some have saved placenta to be used long after the birth for easing menstruation, menopause, treating illness and much more. On the anecdotal downside, a few people have experienced little benefit, and a few have reported feeling worse - headaches and other mild negative responses. The take-home message is that while overwhelmingly, people seem quite happy with their placenta preparations, as with anything people need to listen to their bodies and work with care providers to monitor health if there are concerns.
Placenta preparations are as individual as births and people should feel comfortable asking for what they need or want. Placentas can be prepared in the client’s home or can be picked up to be processed in a very clean kitchen. Placentas can be prepared steamed or raw and then powdered and packed into capsules in various flavors and sprinkled onto foods or shakes. They can be cooked or added raw to foods such as sausages, pizza, lasagna or smoothies. They can even be made into tinctures and homeopathic remedies. The options are as varied as people who want to prepare or consume a placenta.
The option that has been getting the most interest among my clients recently has been placenta chocolate truffles, which I have so far made in dark, mint and coconut. The first batch was a collaboration with local herbal truffle maker, Marybeth Bonfiglio. Most are made with a large chocolate to placenta ratio hiding the finely powdered placenta in a rich chocolate ganache and then coated with a dark hard chocolate shell. If it is oxytocin and other happy hormones we are after, fair trade chocolate seems like a great vehicle.
Interest in placenta preparations seems to be increasing dramatically, as are the number of people who are learning to prepare them safely. If you decide to hire someone to prepare your placenta consider asking about how they clean their equipment between clients. There are common practices that most people follow in order to maintain safe conditions such as using equipment that is easy to clean and soaking with bleach for at least ten minutes between preps. To see some examples of preparations I have done, check out my Facebook page at Facebook.com/DoulaDavid or my less well-maintained web page DoulaDavid.com. Also see PlacentaBenefits.info for information regarding placenta preparations and the small amount of research that is available.
Happy Pills! Placenta Encapsulation
Blood Magic (or, the amazing healing properties of the placenta to lift depression)
Taye Diggs Talks Placentas, Waterbirth, Midwives & Doulas
What Doulas Do
Placenta: The Gift of Life [book]