Placentophagy: therapeutic miracle or myth?

Cynthia W. Coyle, Kathryn E. Hulse, Katherine L. Wisner, Kara E. Driscoll, Crystal T. Clark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Postpartum women are consuming their placentas encapsulated, cooked, and raw for the prevention of postpartum depression (PPD), pain relief, and other health benefits. Placentophagy is supported by health advocates who assert that the placenta retains hormones and nutrients that are beneficial to the mother. A computerized search was conducted using PubMed, Medline Ovid, and PsychINFO between January 1950 and January 2014. Keywords included placentophagy, placentophagia, maternal placentophagia, maternal placentophagy, human placentophagia, and human placentophagy. A total of 49 articles were identified. Empirical studies of human or animal consumption of human placentas were included. Editorial commentaries were excluded. Animal placentophagy studies were chosen based on their relevance to human practice. Ten articles (four human, six animal) were selected for inclusion. A minority of women in developed countries perceive placentophagy to reduce PPD risk and enhance recovery. Experimental animal research in support of pain reduction has not been applied in humans. Studies investigating placenta consumption for facilitating uterine contraction, resumption of normal cyclic estrogen cycle, and milk production are inconclusive. The health benefits and risks of placentophagy require further investigation of the retained contents of raw, cooked, and encapsulated placenta and its effects on the postpartum woman.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)673-680
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 13 2015

Keywords

  • Maternal placentophagy
  • Placentophagia
  • Placentophagy
  • Postpartum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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