Encapsulating and supplementing with your placenta

AllisonMS, RDN, CDN

The eating of the placenta postpartum, called placentophagy, is an ancient practice that has become more popular recently, as people (including celebrities) have drawn attention to the belief that eating it conveys powerful health benefits. While people have eaten placentas that have been baked, sautéed, broiled or roasted, most commonly the process involves steaming, dehydrating, grounding and finally encapsulating the placenta to be ingested as a pill.

While several organizations offer placenta encapsulation, know that there are no guidelines or regulations regarding the practice.

Most of the information currently available regarding encapsulated placenta comes from anecdotes of women who have tried it. Few scientific studies have been conducted (more rigorous studies were conducted with rats and not humans), and no conclusive evidence exists to support or refute the practice. Proponents cite cultural tradition, however a cross-cultural survey of 179 human societies demonstrated that in fact, placentophagy is new to human practice.

Holistic medical customs embrace a number of potential benefits from placenta encapsulation

However, scientific evidence tells us to be cautious of the many “unknowns” of placenta encapsulation including risks of accumulation of harmful pollutants and even harbor bacteria. There is also lack of scientific evidence as to whether placenta can be beneficial

What to Do

Make an informed decision

Consider other dietary supplements with proven and documented benefits and weigh these options against taking encapsulated placenta.

Consult with your healthcare provider before taking any kind of supplement

As with any other supplement, first speak with your doctor.

If you decide to encapsulate and ingest your placenta, take precautions to avoid contamination

If you need to store your placenta, keep it refrigerated as you would any other meat product. If you choose to ingest your placenta, make sure it is cooked thoroughly as you would any other meat product.

Placenta encapsulation should be done at a facility that follows proper hygiene and safety handling techniques.

If you are dealing with postpartum depression or you suspect it, consult with your doctor

Postpartum depression is a serious condition and should be treated accordingly.