Interest in potential health benefits with consuming the placenta postpartum has increased in recent years, but a review in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health found inconclusive data on the perceived health benefits with placentophagy.

Some health advocates propose that because the placenta retains hormones and nutrients, it can protect against postpartum depression (PPD), reduce post-delivery pain, increase energy, assist with lactation, promote skin elasticity, enhance maternal bonding, and replenish iron when consumed. Cynthia Coyle, PhD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and colleagues reviewed 10 published articles on human and animal placentophagy but found only limited results.

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A minority of women in developed countries perceive placentophagy to reduce PPD risk and improve recovery, while experimental animal research supporting its use for pain reduction has not been studied in humans. Data on placenta consumption for facilitating uterine contraction, resumption of normal cyclic estrogen cycle, and milk production were inconclusive.

Dr. Coyle added that there are currently no regulations regarding the storage and preparation of placenta and that the dosing is inconsistent. Further investigation is needed on the health benefits and risks of consuming raw, cooked, and encapsulated placenta; the study authors are now gathering data on perceptions, beliefs, and practices of healthcare providers internationally and nationally on placentophagy.

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