Why Eat the Placenta?

 

Why eat the placenta? Benefits and evidence.

It was once considered a radical idea to eat the placenta after giving birth. But the idea of eating one’s placenta has gained a lot of interest recently. It’s becoming more commonplace.

 

Is it Really a Good Idea to Eat the Placenta?

It is widely known that most mammals eat their placenta after birth. It is said to be enriched with nutrients and something that animals naturally do. So why not us?

Humans usually don’t line up for eating raw placenta like animals. However, in recent times it has become increasingly popular for women to eat their placenta when it has been slow-dried and encapsulated or put into a tincture.

From a Chinese medical point of view, the placenta is seen as a product to improve the “Jing” levels of the body. In Chinese medicine, it’s common for pregnant women to be advised to eat the placenta after birth.

 

Placenta and Jing

Jing refers to the deep nutritive aspects of our energy. Even though there isn’t a literal translation in English, Jing is often referred to as our Essence.

Jing is the most dense form of energy in the body, similar to our DNA. It is said to determine our constitution.

Jing is not easy to improve upon. However, eating the placenta after birth (and other foods such as eggs) can help to replenish lost Jing, as can a sustained improved lifestyle that includes appropriate exercise and enough rest.

When someone has good Jing levels, they live to a ripe old age, they’re fertile for a long period of time, their organs and skin are of good quality, their hair remains on their head for a long period of time, they keep the colour in the hair on their head for longer than others, they have a good deep reservoir of energy and they’re able to enjoy life well into old age.

So, from a Chinese medical point of view, eating the placenta after giving birth could be seen as making an investment toward improved Jing, kind of like putting lots of money into your superannuation account so that you have that financial padding to take care of yourself later on.

 

Evidence for the Benefits of Eating the Placenta

Science is starting to look into what is actually in placenta – how much iron, what hormones and what micro-nutrients. It’s also starting to look at the claim of whether eating placenta can diminish the incidence of postnatal depression.

Studies* published as recently as this year have detailed initial findings which do not show any toxic levels of anything that would warrant problems for mothers or babies. So first and foremost we can rule out harm – this is certainly a good thing.

However, so far the levels of iron that have been found in placenta pills have not been to the level where they could give a therapeutic effect on iron deficiency anaemia for example.

At this stage we simply don’t have enough information to call the shots on the benefits of eating placenta once and for all.

It would be wonderful if there was a way to look at the consumption of placenta more holistically to see what kinds of effects it has on women’s energy, sleep, fertility etc. However, these elements are very hard to isolate and measure as there are so many factors that affect them.

For more information on all the current evidence, check out this link by Rebecca from Evidence Based Birth.

 

*Studies Examining the Benefits of Eating the Placenta:

 

 


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