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How would you like your placenta? Broiled or freeze-dried?

After nearly 11 years (!) at this blogging thing, I thought I had covered pretty much every medical topic a skeptic and supporter of science-based medicine would be interested in covering. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that there’s always something I’ve missed, some hole in my blogging oeuvre that needs to be filled. Perhaps when I’ve been at this for 20 years I’ll have filled them all in. Even if that becomes true sometime in the next nine years, I will likely have only filled in the old gaps, while new ones will have formed. Dealing with pseudoscience is very much like playing Whac-A-Mole. Knock one bit of quackery or pseudoscience down, and one of its compatriots pops up somewhere else.

Even so, oddly enough I’ve never covered the strange practice of mothers eating their placentas after giving birth. It’s not true that I’ve never mentioned it; I did over nine years ago in a brief post about Tom Cruise saying he was going to eat Katie Holmes’ placenta, but that’s not the same thing. However, I’ve never taken a look at the wackiness that is placentophagia. Leave it to Kate Tietje, who calls herself Modern Alternative Mama, to give me the perfect excuse to rectify that oversight in my blogging, thanks to a post with the gag-inducing title Can Mamas Share Their Placentas with Friends? It begins with this “dilemma” (if you can call it that):

Recently, a friend was preparing to start taking her placenta pills.

She had had her third baby about 9 months ago, and with her previous babies, found that she felt so good and energetic in the first several months after birth that she didn’t need any help — until around the 9-month mark. Then, her energy began to dip and postpartum depression began to set in.

With her second baby, she took her placenta pills from months 4 – 10, and found they helped a lot — but that she ran out too soon. With her third baby, she decided to wait longer, until she began to feel she needed them, before starting.

Only, when she opened the bag of the dehydrated placenta strips, disaster! The strips hadn’t been fully dried, or something had gone wrong — and they were covered in white, fuzzy mold. They had to be thrown out.

She was left with flagging energy and depression, and no placenta. What’s a struggling mama to do?

What indeed?

Yes, two of the benefits claimed by advocates of placentophagia is, of course, increased energy and elevated mood, prevention of postpartum depression, even. Indeed, there is a veritable laundry list of claimed benefits:

  • Help to balance your hormones
  • Replenish depleted iron levels
  • Assist the uterus to return to its pre-pregnancy state
  • Reduce post-natal bleeding
  • Increase milk production
  • Make for a happier, more enjoyable post-natal period
  • Increase your energy levels
  • Prevent aging

Online, you can find recipes to make all sorts of placenta preparations, including roast placenta, placenta cocktail, placenta lasagne, and even placenta spaghetti Bolognaise. (I kid you not.) There are even books on how to prepare placenta. There are even videos on YouTube telling you how to do it, such as this one (don’t watch unless you are not squeamish; I’m a surgeon and can deal with it, but I don’t know if you can):

There are even a large number of services that will take a placenta, freeze dry it, and “encapsulate” it, making placenta capsules that can be taken for weeks to months after birth. As Teitje’s story relates, there are also recipes to dehydrate the placenta in a process not unlike making beef jerky for later consumption.

The rationale, such as it is apparently, for human placentophagia is that many, if not most, species of placental mammals eat the placenta after giving birth. Exceptions include seals, cetaceans, camels and, for the most part, humans. That’s because, of course, we want to be just like other mammals because nature, I guess. History provides examples of placentophagia, but in general it seems not to have been a widespread practice in most human cultures throughout history. Indeed, not long ago a scientific paper made the news because two ecologists, while not advocating placentophagia, asked the provocative question: Given that most mammals engage in placentophagia, why don’t humans do it too? (Unfortunately, my library does not subscribe to the particular journal.) One thing that human placenta has been used for is in—surprise! surprise!—traditional Chinese medicine and other ancient, prescientific medical systems.

So what is the evidence that eating placenta has health benefits or does any of the things claimed for it? In brief, there is very little evidence. The ever-intrepid Harriet Hall summarized the existing evidence she could find in 2011. To say that it was thin was to be too kind. It included a 1954 study (never replicated) claiming to show that taking a supplement derived from placenta could increase milk production, some rodent studies, some speculative papers on the practice, but nothing that could be considered a relevant study in humans. The best advocates of placentophagia could do was to speculate that eating the placenta is a good source of iron, which might well be true but who cares? There are other ways of getting iron if you are a human female.

I decided to search PubMed to see if there were any newer studies. There was, of course, the aforementioned speculative ecology paper in 2012 and another 2012 study that was nothing more than a self-reported survey of mothers who ate placenta asking them their motivations and experiences doing it. What there were not were anything resembling rigorous studies. Indeed, a review article, hot off the presses, could only list the same rodent studies that Harriet listed plus a few more and the same 1954 human study:

Animal data also do not support claims that placentophagy in humans helps to enhance lactation, reduce pain, facilitate uterine contraction, or replenish hormones (i.e., prolactin, estrogen, progesterone, oxytocin) associated with postpartum recovery since statistically significant findings in animal data do not translate into meaningful benefits for humans. Additionally, the placebo effect, which is very powerful in humans (Annoni 2013; Benedetti et al. 2011; Geers et al. 2013; Kirsch et al. 2014), is not tested in animal models. Reports of human benefit may, at least partially, be a result of placebo effects, which could be addressed through a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Overall, human data on placentophagy enhancing milk production is dated, inconclusive and, to our knowledge has not been systematically investigated further. Based on the studies reviewed, it is not possible to draw any conclusions relevant to human health. We conclude that the animal and human data strongly support the need for more precise evaluation of the benefit, if any, of placentophagy practices in human patients.

So basically, the best we can say is that there is nothing resembling rigorous data or studies that support any of the claimed health benefits for placentophagia. To her credit, Tietje actually admits that all the evidence that exists consists of basically anecdotes. But to her that’s just fine. She even asserts that anecdotal data are “not not as useless as some seem to think; I think more and more that anecdotes can be pretty powerful.” Yes, they can be pretty powerful–powerfully misleading. That’s why anecdotes alone are seldom useful in medicine other than for hypothesis generation. Indeed, if you want to see just how deceptive large numbers of anecdotes can be, you need look no further than the antivaccine movement. Despite the many studies failing to find a link between vaccines and autism, parent anecdotes linking the first symptoms of autism to vaccination keep the myth that vaccines cause autism alive. Tietje, of course, is one of those believers who buy that myth. So it’s no surprise that she finds the anecdotes claiming that eating placenta reduces postpartum depression, increases energy levels and mood, and provides all sorts of other health benefits compelling.

So what are the risks? For one thing, if membranes ruptured early, there could be significant bacterial contamination. As Jen Gunter (who should know, given that she’s an OB/GYN) points out, somne placentas from normal deliveries can reek of infection due to bacteria only visible by a search with a microscope. Most placentas are colonized with bacteria from passage through the birth canal, anyway. If properly refrigerated or frozen and then adequately cooked, they’re probably not dangerous to consume, but it’s a different issue for encapsulated placenta, where dehydrated and frozen placentas are often ground with no sterilization of equipment between preparations and, apparently, no concern for contamination and cross contamination. Yum.

Strangely enough, Tietje, while acknowledging the risk of infection, still seeks to justify women sharing placentas:

One woman pointed out that we share breast milk…so why not placentas?

That last point stuck with me.

Breast milk is made by our bodies, specifically for our babies. Biologically, the perfect food for any baby is its own mother’s milk, straight from her breast. But, if that’s not available, we don’t say, “Well, just use formula instead, it’s dangerous to use another mother’s milk.” (Well, some people do — but we actually have studies that show that babies benefit more from breast milk than formula, especially preemies and medically fragile babies.)

No. Another mother’s milk is not the perfect food. That’s especially true if it’s been pasteurized by a milk bank before being given to the baby. But it is still a superior food for babies than commercial formula.

Her rationale follows that, for women suffering postpartum depression, consuming her own placenta is the best thing because it’s “perfect” for her, but consuming some other woman’s placenta might be the next best thing. So she thinks it might just be a perfectly fine thing for a woman to do. Hilariously, she then contradicts herself. Claiming that “we don’t have any evidence to suggest that it’s [placentophagia] harmful,” she then goes on to warn:

Placentas do contain blood, so we want to make sure the person who is sharing doesn’t have any blood-borne disease that could be transferred.

I’d say that blood-borne illness is a risk of harm, wouldn’t you? And Tietje’s trust that a woman’s denial that she has a blood-borne illness is any guarantee that she doesn’t have a blood-borne illness. Of course, many people who harbor various blood-borne illnesses, if asymptomatic, might not be aware that they are harboring such an illness. Then there are other dangers that might not be eliminated by cooking.

Placenta eating is one of the sillier crazes I’ve heard about. It’s nothing more than the naturalistic fallacy gone haywire. Sure, most female mammals do it, but humans aren’t most female mammals and, for whatever reason, it appears that evolution led to human females ceasing to eat placentas after giving birth sometime before the rise of civilization, or perhaps parallel with it. Whatever the case, humans don’t do it any more—except when for some reason they want to be like animals because they think it’s somehow more “natural.” Let’s just put it this way. Even Andrew Weil doesn’t really recommend it.

No wonder “Modern Alternative Mama” thinks it’s a perfectly acceptable, “natural” idea.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

124 replies on “How would you like your placenta? Broiled or freeze-dried?”

Yeah, eating another woman’s placenta feels like cannibalism to me.
About my own, it feels about as disgusting as, say, eating a finger that was accidentally cut off.

The real reason for placentophagia in animals is that the placenta smells very strongly. The mothers (deer especially) eat the placenta to conceal the birth from predators.

A few years ago someone suggested placenta based banana smoothies.

It does seem bceesubky unappealing. And weird.

@Daniel: I don’t know how it smells, just that the odour is strong enough for predators to sense. I’m guessing of blood and raw meat, since that’s what it is.

I live in a State with more cattle than people. The great majority of the cattle are female and give birth every year. I’ll be having dinner with a rancher on Friday and shall have to suggest to him a sideline in selling the placentas. If human placentas have all those great effects, bovine placentas should be very beneficial if not quite as good. Kind of like cow’s milk vs breast milk.

Sadly I don’t think the woo-woos will go for that argument. Bovine placentas aren’t special enough.

@Julian Frost

You beat me to it. I was just going to say the same thing about the threat of predators.

Can a vegan eat placenta? Oh, the debate is one for the ages (

Lots of kids people engage in mucophagy (eating their boogers–if done so with one’s finger(s) it is called rhinotillexis), but not much evidence it is beneficial (you know, no RCTs with sham boogers) and no evidence that other members of the animal kingdom do this. Of course, there are some online who claim mucophagy boosts the immune system (is there anything that doesn’t per Dr. Google?) but Wikipedia says most people do it because boogers are “tasty” (and don’t take nearly as long to prepare as placenta, I’ve been told).

I used to have three dogs but my beagle died last year from cancer. She used to eat dog poop (coprophagia), both hers and the other 2 dogs (who are both still alive and healthy). So there is my anecdote for why not to eat stool–not that I would say that to anxious mom’s whose child just ate their own stool from their diaper. In that case, I try to determine whether there was any chance the child aspirated the stool. If not, it’s not that worrisome, as the child is putting back into the start of the GI tract what came out the other end.

I guess as a physicist (undergraduate) I could make an argument against all this self-eating based on the 1st Law of Thermodynamics which (biologically adapted to this) says you can’t keep yourself running eating just your boogers, poop and placenta, nor can you stay hydrated drinking your urine.

Tietje doesn’t have much idea about post-partum depression either: if the “depression”, assuming that is what it was, kicks in at 9 months post-partum, it ain’t post-partum depression (ICD-10 says within 6 weeks), but something else…

Oh my! This turns my stomach, and there is not much that does.

There is a significant risk of harm here from various blood borne infectious agents including hepatitis B and C and HIV.

Anyone who asks us for a placenta is told absolutely not!

Well, I must say that a spongy blood-filled organ sounds scrumptious, completely justifying a cannibalistic approach to good health.

To be completely au naturel, one should gobble up the raw placenta immediately upon giving birth at home, warding off the doula and other potential predators.

The placenta eating stuff is almost as gross as the “lotus birth” practice. Almost.

Reading Orac’s take on Lotus Birth would be immensely amusing, I have to admit ?

Having small children, I’ve heard a lot about this practice around the internet. It’s always sounded disgusting to me. Doesn’t the placenta act as a filter? Why would I want to eat that?

This reminds me of an article I read about “lotus birth.” The baby is kept attached to the placenta after the birth, until the cord falls off on its own. So, you keep your baby hooked up to a pile of rotting flesh.

When I saw the title of this post, I thought Heather Dexter would be mentioned. She offers a few services to help you consume your placenta. See

You don’t just get placenta capsules for $175 –

*All encapsulations include a Placental Print and an Umbilical Keepsake memorabilia.

It looks like she takes the placenta, covered in what ever goop they are covered with, drops it on a piece of paper, and lets it dry. I think I’ll stick with a couple of nice oil paintings and a few photos.

Uncle Cecil wrote about the practice back in 1988 –

Money quote –

Having investigated the matter with my customary thoroughness, no small achievement under the circumstances, I can report the following facts: (1) chowing down on placenta doesn’t happen often, but (2) it happens. May God have mercy on our heathen souls.

We planted them with a new tree for each child. Yes, (horrors), three of our four were born at home–with proper attendants.

Recipes were offered (cooked, such as stew–raw WOULD be icky), but I couldn’t see any benefit knowing what Julien Frost said above is the reason animals eat them.

@Finfer, MD – It seems rather condescending to refuse them to people without exception. That makes me glad I didn’t have to ask.

Surely placenta must be eaten raw. Cooking is, after all, processing, and we all know how evil processed food is.

I wonder if eating of placenta evolved in mammals in part because it simply supplies rather mundane but essential nutrients. After giving birth, moms are still eating for two – or ten. For many species, maternal duties limit the time available for foraging for food at a time of high need.

Note to readers:

The video isn’t really that bad- most of it involves cutting up vegetables for the stew and cooking. The placenta itself looks quite a bit like liver that is sold in markets. Actually the still photo visible above is worse.

I should mention that although things like that ( including liver) disgust me, they don’t make me feel ill. Seeing blood in quantity is not a major problem either. Prior to giving up red meat, I once ate steak tartare and even once, liver*, although both incidents were in posh French establishments in France and Quebec respectively.

I am somewhat surprised that one of those travel-the-world-and-eat-disgusting-food shows hasn’t featured placenta quenelles or placenta * a la brasa*.

** what can I say, the follies of youth.

We planted them with a new tree for each child. Yes, (horrors), three of our four were born at home–with proper attendants.

I have some hippie friends in Olympia who did exactly the same thing. 🙂

@darwinslapdog #16

May be part of the blood borne pathogen control protocols.

I seem to remember in my youth they quite often let people take home various pieces/parts or slides of their blood (got a good look at malaria in a blood smear of a classmate).

I may not be recalling this correctly but seems that sometime during the early years of the HIV/AIDS outbreak they tightened up on what they would let you take home with you.

I have friends who swear by their dehydrated placenta capsules to prevent postpartum depression. Even if, as I suspect, there is a strong placebo effect, I still support this choice. The women I know have limited resources. They may have trouble getting to a doctor’s appointment or paying for the appointment plus prescriptions. Then the dosage or medication needs tweaked, more visits and more prescriptions. And this whole time, there is pressure to not take pills (breastfeeding! think of the baby!) and prejudice against depression along with tons of well-meant but not helpful advice to get out more, take walks, have the hubby do the dishes. If only. I think that if consuming her own placenta allows a woman to get a grip on her sanity during the difficult postpartum period, then I say, ‘Great! Go for it!’

There are voids in medicine that are often filled with quackery because quackery is easier to access. I think postpartum depression is one such circumstance.

I knew that I was going to regret reading Orac’s post but forced myself to.

In the words of the immortal Charles Schulz: Oog.

I think that if consuming her own placenta allows a woman to get a grip on her sanity during the difficult postpartum period, then I say, ‘Great! Go for it!’

Well, heck, as long as you freeze and then cook it and follow all the proper precautions, I don’t really see what harm it could do. I think it’s pretty silly and also weird ad gross, but whatever, that’s just my gag reflex.

The pills and so on seem like they present some risk, though.

Actually, very recent research strongly suggests that the placenta is colonized by bacteria long before birth, and that the type of bacteria in it may influence certain pregnancy complications. Which would explain why placentas can become nasty really really fast.

I know a woman who used to be very crunchy, and since the birth of her fourth child has become less so. Her fourth pregnancy, she had placental insufficiency, and her son was just 4 pounds at birth. She had the placenta encapsulated each time.

Once home with her newborn, she looked at the tiny skinny baby, looked at the jar of placenta pills, and thought, “If it did THAT to my son, do I really want to eat it?”

And the jar of placenta pills sat on her kitchen counter, untouched, for months until she finally threw it away.

If they really were concerned about nutrition I’m not sure why a nice plate of liver or kidney wouldn’t do the trick. Organ meats from your local butcher aren’t magical?

Heather “Placental Print” Dexter –

That is some deranged shit. I am so concerned that she is unsafely handling other women’s placentas, probably in her home kitchen, and could be spreading disease. I’d imagine that a placenta could be contaminated with feces, and I doubt Dexter is handling this human tissue with any concern for infection control. She could easily be spreading diseases between her clients, herself, and her family. But I guess she would argue that’s good for the immune system! I am dreading the thought that her kids, who stay at home and learn from her, could be exposed these placentas.

Are there laws that restrict the processing and sale of human tissues? She’s already been reported to CPS, perhaps the health department should pay her a visit too.

Chris Hickie:

Lots of kids people engage in mucophagy (eating their boogers–if done so with one’s finger(s) it is called rhinotillexis), but not much evidence it is beneficial (you know, no RCTs with sham boogers) and no evidence that other members of the animal kingdom do this.

Wellllllll……absolutely every animal does it, including 100% of humans, but it’s mostly involuntary. Where else is postnasal drip likely to end up but the stomach? 😛 (Yes, sorry, I said that at lunchtime.)

I personally would be willing to try placenta, but did not have the opportunity with either of my kids as it was a c-section both times and I was rather busy. 😉 But I do like organ meats, and would be intrigued to try some other animal’s placenta at least once, just out of curiosity.

I have to relate a conversation that took place between my midwives in the delivery room:

Midwife#1: (showing us the placenta) There are women who choose to eat it –
Midwife#2: and it is true that most other mammals do.
MW#1: But you know, I was walking my dog a few years ago and watched her eating her own crap, and it struck me that there are a lot of things other mammals do that we don’t, and we don’t need to do them just because they do.

(It goes without saying that they did not recommend eating the placenta in any format, and I did not do it.)

Organ meats from your local butcher aren’t magical?

Oh, but organ meats from butchered animals are full of artifical hormones and toxins, whereas your own placenta is chemical-free, right?

A few discordant thoughts:

If Dexter is preparing placentas as a food product that crosses any state lines the processing of the placentas would come under USDA if raw and FDA if ready to eat. Otherwise it would come under state or local rules.

If eating the placenta is so great what is the next logical step that would be even better?

The next great horror movie: Attack of the Poombies.

I walked past two women the other day just as one of them said to the other, “And I’ve still got his umbilical cord.” I really don’t want to think about what parts she may have ingested. Where do you keep an umbilical cord anyway? On the mantelpiece in a jar?

@Cate K #35:

I hope the poor kid wasn’t circumcised. Imagine him having to grow up and have his friends see his dried prepuce on display!

I like steak tartare and liver, preferably ducks (not homeopathic and rotten) on a steak, but eating placenta is not something I would do in any form. I think I prefer some eggs.

Clearly this is one of those days that needs a really good plague to decimate humanity.

(Preferably not one involving zombies tho’, as undead afterbirths are notoriously hard to shoot in the head.)

Where do you keep an umbilical cord anyway? On the mantelpiece in a jar?

No. In a box.

Hospitals in Japan tend to save the umbilical cords after births. They carefully package the cords inside wooden boxes and present them to the proud mothers upon their departure from the hospital. Japanese mothers typically cherish the umbilical cords, allowing the child to look at it when they’re older. These cords are thought to have a strong link to the well-being of the babies, which is why Japanese parents look after them so well.

My office-mate back in the day was the offspring of a Japanese mother. He told me that his mom still had his, and said it was traditional.

The Japanese have some interesting customs (I’ve spent a few weeks there, and very much felt like a stranger in a strange land), but even they didn’t make soup out of it or anything.

I’m a reasonably adventurous eater. If there is a species on the menu I’ve not had, that’s what I’ll order. Organ meats don’t scare me. I’ve had Rocky Mountain oysters.

Placenta? No. Just, no.

Many native American tribes will take a portion of the umbilical cord and place it in a special container. The container is kept with the child and is supposed to bring luck through out his or hers life.

I hope the poor kid wasn’t circumcised. Imagine him having to grow up and have his friends see his dried prepuce on display!

Look how it screwed up that poor Jesus kid.

My daughter, a vegan, encapsulated her placenta after the birth of her twins. When she told me, I just rolled my eyes. We have had lots of discussions about “natural” shit. Which is exactly what I call it, except with “bull” in front. So we don’t discuss that topic anymore.

That said, if this was posted back in January, I would have sent it to her. I didn’t consider the bacterial angle.


Even if, as I suspect, there is a strong placebo effect, I still support this choice.

I’m going to have to disagree with you, here. If the person is suffering from real depression, then taking a placebo in place of seeking real treatment is detrimental, as their depression goes undiagnosed and untreated. That could lead to potential harm to the mother, to the child, and/or the rest of the family.

Whether or not someone “responds” psychologically to a placebo isn’t something you can know ahead of time. Supporting the use of placenta capsules (or any other form) as a treatment for postpartum depression, in the absence of evidence that it actually has a beneficial effect, makes me rather uncomfortable.

I think this is more “magical thinking” than naturalistic fallacy. It seems more fundamentally rooted in the fetishization of motherhood and the ritualization of childbirth that follows. The placenta is the physical connection between mother and child so it *must* have all kinds of magical properties. The naturalistic bit about nutrition and “animals do it” is just the science-y veneer that gets slapped on for rationalization, for those that need it.

Does any one know if a hormone cocktail made to replicate the content of the placenta has been tested or even marketed? The health claims of placentophagia seem so easily testable whether with placebo or with something designed to mimic the hormones present in the tissue. I completely agree that this practice is more a ritual justified by magical thinking than about demonstrable health benefits.

It’s not the mother’s placenta, it’s the baby’s placenta. The biology on this is very clear. Why do these new mothers feel comfortable eating a significant chunk of their newborn? The baby is done using it, but that still just seems morbid to me.

1) Eww. Sorry, it’s childish, but yuck.
2) If it’s treated like a piece of raw meat (properly contained and refrigerated) and cooked thoroughly, I guess it’s probably not going to hurt anyone.
3) At least the woman who found that hers was fuzzy didn’t eat it.
4) Please, please, please don’t go around swapping bodily fluids with random people. Especially blood.

In the lab world (and maybe in the medical world too) there’s a concept called “Universal precautions” where you assume that any blood product has *every* disease known to humanity and treat it accordingly. Does it? Probably not, but given that you can’t test for everything, it is always safer to be careful. Also, you can’t assume a person does (or doesn’t) have a disease just by looking. Often people have no idea they have HepB or HepC, and what they don’t know can hurt you.

One of my hats is food safety. Because of what the placenta is, I would suggest a minimum internal cooking temperature (middle of the thickest part) of 170 degrees. A 170 degrees should be high enough to kill any bio contaminants. I can bet some these consumers would tell you that 170 degrees will destroy all the positive benefits from a placenta.


Well, if you take Heather Dexter as a representative example of the kind of person who goes in for this sort of thing (which may or may not be fair), then you can see how it’s really all about the mother. The child is just an instrument or vessel through which she achieves her divine status as Mother.

@ Rich Bly:

Amongst the loons I survey ( mostly vegans), the magic number is 115 or 118 F because the living enzymes are supposedly unaffected and set to jump start your vital essence when ingested or suchlike. Non vegans interested in raw foods may follow rules similarly about milk and cheese.

Amongst the loons I survey ( mostly vegans), the magic number is 115 or 118 F

Raw vegans. Not to be confused with vegans-for-ethical-reasons.

A good friend of mine in college (I haven’t seen her in some time, but we keep up) was vegan just for the sake of staying slim. (She also drank like a fish back then, although like almost all of us, she’s slowed down lately.) She does some version of the “paleo” diet now. (I find paleo to be incredibly irritating, but whatever. She’s into that “Crossfit” stuff too.)

I also knew a kid who was a raw vegan and one of the most obnoxious, smarmy dweebs I have ever known. He eventually started eating some raw eggs and meat (cause vital force or whatever) and he is, interestingly, “paleo” now too. It’s trendy, I guess. You can look him up (Christian Bates) on Youtube for endless entertainment. One of his videos references David Icke, I kid you not. I think he has an online grift selling powdered reishi mushrooms or something, too.

@ JP:

Technically, not raw vegans because they do eat some ( 20%) lightly cooked foods and some grains. But cult-like anyway.
( via PRN).

I’ve always thought that part of the allure of veganism- esp to young women- was that it was a way to lose weight/ keep weight off. Paleo may be a similar way but more acceptable to men who won’t forego their carnivorous ways. Mercola advocates paleo and Adams is sort of in the same camp.

Unfortunately, some of these partisans extend their beliefs to their pets’ diets- raw fish/ meat for cats and vegan dogs.
There’s also a no-grain diet trend for felines ( esp for IBD/ IBS) altho’ there may be something SB about the novel protein sources ( rabbit, venison etc) for IBD, not sure about the paleo/ no grain.

Given that cats are obligate carnivores, I can imagine that an all-
meat diet might be better for them. I took care of an elderly cat for a while and fed him mostly chicken breasts. As far as raw meat, I imagine cats can handle it better than we can

Dogs technically can be vegan, I’m pretty sure, and people getting upset about grain in dog food. I doubt canines would really thrive on a vegan diet.

Incidentally, all of the vegans I currently know are vegan for animal welfare reasons.

The Doktorling’s placenta was calcified. Good for bone density perhaps, but it would have been crunchy. Down the garbage grinder it went.


In the lab world (and maybe in the medical world too) there’s a concept called “Universal precautions” where you assume that any blood product has *every* disease known to humanity and treat it accordingly.

We use Standard Precautions which is pretty much an expanded version of Universal Precautions. While there are differences, body substance isolation (BSI), Standard Precautions, and Universal Precautions are usedused interchangeably.

I took care of an elderly cat for a while and fed him mostly chicken breasts.

For geriatric cats, who tend to develop chronic renal insufficiency or failure, too much protein is a Bad Thing, last I checked.

Tom Cruise saying he was going to eat Katie Holmes’ placenta

Just when I thought Tom Cruise couldn’t get any creepier. And yes, I do see him sharing it with David Miscavige as part of a candle-lit dinner.

One woman pointed out that we share breast milk…so why not placentas?

We already are sharing one potentially dangerous biospecimen, why not another?

(Also, screw those women for diverting milk away from banks for preemies, who actually need it.)

What’s a struggling mama to do?

See a real doctor?

Have a friend encapsulate some sawdust, which will have the same placebo effect and have a lower risk of infection?

Also – I thought I remembered reading about this in my Chicagoland days…

“Finally, David English of Somerville, Massachusetts, has thoughtfully sent me a copy of the script for a censored Saturday Night Live skit featuring — you’d better sit down for this — Placenta Helper. “Placenta Helper lets you stretch your placenta into a tasty casserole,” it sez here. “Like Placenta Romanoff — a zesty blend of cheeses makes for the zingy sauce that Russian czars commanded at palace feasts,” etc. The last line was supposed to have been a voice-over from Don Pardo: “Placenta Helper — make a rare occasion, a rare occasion.” Very tasteful. Why it got cut we’ll never know.”

Also, it’s nice to know Mothering magazine was already serving up the batshit back in the early 80s.

I just noticed a sidebar ad when I opened this page.

“Learn Holistic Nutrition Online”

Very appropriate for this theme.

@41 – Johnny
I had not heard of the practice. As I’m dating a Japanese woman I’ll have to ask her about it. After reading your comment I took a look at the Japanese wikipedia article on umbilical chords I learned
1) I don’t know enough Japanese
2) They didn’t write much on the topic (1 sentence) – ‘Also, in Japan the umbilical cord which drops off the baby spontaneously (In the case of the chord being cut, the section near the newborn baby) is preserved for commemoration as a custom’

I wonder if it is an old tradition or something modern like blood types.

While poking around and reading about it I did see a few pages with questions to medical practitioners along the lines of ‘I just saw a video of an American eating their placenta after birth, why is that?’. From the answers it apparently illegal in Japan due to the risk of infection (as mentioned by people above) and is disposed of as hospital waste.

For geriatric cats, who tend to develop chronic renal insufficiency or failure, too much protein is a Bad Thing, last I checked.

They had asked me to, so I did. He had got to the point where he was pretty much refusing to eat dry cat food, and he was fairly picky about the wet food, but would enthusiastically eat chicken.


Negatory on the cinnamon taste in Nestle Crunch, btw. It tastes pretty much the way I remember it.

Anyone interested in gamete cannibalism?

^^Among the top-ten things you should never say to your female co-workers and employees.

Reading this made me remember a cat we had that ate it’s offspring when it died after being hit by a car.

Right, the diet for chronic kidney disease is lower protein and higher carbohydrates. For IBD, the vet prescribes high protein ( chicken) with low residue carbohydrates ( corn, rice) with soluble fiber mixed in.

Some of the commercial brands offer proteins which the cat doesn’t habitually ingest like rabbit, venison and even more exotic ones which are supposed to ease symptoms.

Older cats can’t smell as well as younger ones so probably the chicken enticed him- also kidney disease ( if he has it) and its resultant nausea can make most foods unappealing so only the best might be acceptable.
But then most cats would accept chicken no matter what.

Ugh. I had a patient who insisted on keeping her placenta after birth. We red bagged it for her and told her we had no where to store it (which was true, we didn’t). The husband kept the red bagged placenta in the mom’s room.

It was starting to smell. When we insisted that the Dad either take home or let us throw it out, the parents acted as if we were trying to murder their baby.

It was disgusting.

placenta haggis (great chieftain o’ the pudding-race) with neeps & tatties

“Revolting” you say? It could be wurst.

Placenta is a Crazy Place.

For real dude, I spent nine months there one time, can’t even remember any of it.

Offspring #1: placenta 2/3 infarcted, both mother and offspring septicaemic.

Offspring #2: meconium stained liquor.

Who cares what the hospital staff does with the placenta? Let’s do our best to keep mother and offspring alive! (Successfully accomplished to everyone’s joy)

@ Ann
Actually, it more specifically relates to sperm cannibalism, but I wanted to avoid censorship.

Placentas stink after a few hours even in the fridge. Open up the specimen bucket on a Monday and the Saturday morning placentas are often furry.

They come out via an orifice with an amazing micro biome.

It’s fetal tissue. Would they eat their babies’ appendix?

Any possible hormonal supplementation would be instantly negated by a) cooking, b) stomach acid, c) delayed processing

And finally – it’s a bloody mess of a bag that the baby has peed, pooped and peeled into for a good long while. It’s like a giant pustule.

I was going to tell you about the cannibal who passed his brother in the woods, but there are some types of crap no one should write about.

Q: what did the cannibal do after he dumped his girlfriend?
A: He wiped his backside.
Q: what is a cannibal’s favourite book?
A: How to serve your fellow man.

Knipp that kind of joke in the bud.

herr doktor bimler, you should goetta gig in the comedy club circuit.

It’s probably magical thinking. In Jamaica, where I am from, the umbilical cord is buried under a tree at home so the child is “tied” to his parents’ land and knows where his roots are. Mine wasn’t buried, so I guess that’s why I wandered away. Not sure if it’s still done to give the cord to the parents anymore, must ask my friend who gave birth recently! Also, eww. *Goes back to lurking.*

I remember a few years ago there was a flurry of excitement in the UK media when a TV chef cooked a placenta for a family meal:

The Clear family decided that, to mark their first grandchild’s birth, family and friends would eat the placenta to reflect rituals and customs from other cultures. The idea was to construct a ceremony in which the guests would symbolically join in their gene pool by sharing part of the baby, Indie-Mo’s placenta.

Note the baby’s name – I will keep my assumptions to myself 🙂 The article about the ensuing outrage helpfully tells us:

Consumption of the afterbirth can be traced to 1556, when a traveller to the New World reported that Indians ate the placenta immediately after giving birth. Cooking and eating placentas is widely practised among native peoples of Brazil and certain Maori tribes. In Europe, it was regularly added to chicken broth and served to recently delivered women until the mid-19th century.

To people who regularly butcher animals, a placenta doesn’t look that different to dinner, and where protein was in low supply I imagine it might well have ended up in a stew, or otherwise thrown to the dogs. I suspect squeamishness about such things is largely a modern phenomenon, though I’m as squeamish as the next person, with the addition of decades of aversion to biohazards that have become instinctive.

Also, liver (lamb, beef, pork or whatever) in strips, floured and shallow fried, served with curried mayonnaise is delicious.

Cooking and eating placentas is widely practised among native peoples of Brazil <and certain Maori tribes.

Much as I hate to accuse UK journamalists of making stuff up, or of uncritically repeating someone else’s made-up bullsh1t as fact, that last claim is simply made-up bullsh1t.

@Daniel Corcos —

Yeah, I got that.

The odds are that it would be for all mammals except monotremes, really.

@ #83 and #84:

Two cannibals capture and cook Louis CK. As they’re eating, one turns to the other – “Hey, does this taste funny to you?”

squirrelelite @91, I wouldn’t know. It was from a list of cannibal jokes I read once.
Here’s some more.
Q: How do cannibals celebrate a wedding?
A: They toast the bride and groom.
A cannibal comes home and sees his wife in a kitchen with a python and a small man tied up, and says “Oh no! Not snake and pygmy pie again!”

Consumption of the afterbirth can be traced to 1556, when a traveller to the New World reported that Indians ate the placenta immediately after giving birth. Cooking and eating placentas is widely practised among native peoples of Brazil and certain Maori tribes.
In Europe, it was reguarly added to chicken broth and served to recently delivered women until the mid-19th century. More recently, in her book Alternative Maternity, Nicky Wesson advised new mothers to eat the placenta to prevent post-natal depression.

It may be that Janine Gibson (‘Independent’ Media Correspondent) thought “This story needs more corroborative detail” and made up the ersatz anthropology herself; or it may be that the fabrications originate in “Alternative Maternity” (I can’t find a searchable on-line copy). But “regularly served to recently delivered women until the mid-19th century”? O RLY?

I am equally unconvinced by Ms Gibson’s claims – I checked Mrs Beeton and found no mention 🙂

It’s not just that a lot of people haven’t been tested for hepatitis B and C*: we don’t know what else we might need to be testing for. Note that the first test for HIV was developed approximately six decades after the virus entered the human population. The first step in testing for a virus is knowing that it exists.

*The CDC advised all Baby Boomers to be tested, but my doctor was hesitant when I asked for the test.

Julian @ 93,

Probably just variations on the same pun, but it was a good Twilight Zone episode.

Thanks for the jokes.

@ Ann
If you look carefully at the paper, you will be disappointed. It is about extinct fishlike species, definitively not people like us.

Johnny (#41)

The Japanese have some interesting customs (I’ve spent a few weeks there, and very much felt like a stranger in a strange land), but even they didn’t make soup out of it or anything.

No more “interesting” than any other culture’s customs seem to outsiders. I recently tried explaining the tooth fairy to a Japanese 5th grader who’d just lost a tooth, and he acted like I was making it all up on the spot to mess with him.


Sandy Penrod (#70)

Reading this made me remember a cat we had that ate it’s offspring when it died after being hit by a car.

I’ve witnessed both cats and mice eating their newborns when severely stressed. If we’re going to go with “nature knows best,” maybe all these stressed out mamas should start copying that, too.

Have a friend encapsulate some sawdust, which will have the same placebo effect and have a lower risk of infection?

Roadstergal’s comment above brings up a point I’ve always said about crap like “incapsulated placenta”: who’s doing quality control? How do you know when, someone like Heather Dexter takes your placenta and gives you a pile of placenta pills, that it is 1) actually placenta in the pills, and 2) it is YOUR placenta?

What’s to stop some scammer from taking your placenta and just giving you a pile of sawdust pills they have sitting on the shelf?

The healthy placenta is a probiotic-packed source of serotonin. Bacteria are now known responsible for serotonin synthesis outside the brain.

But, of course, Orac the Sterile™ doesn’t know about these things, nor does the oblivious CDC in complete disregard of microbial predisposition where vaccine protocol impudently begins within hours of birth.

Please take a look at my new article theorizing colonization of the placenta via maternal chylomicrons of intestinal origin via lymphatics:

I have a book about the first seasons of Saturday Night Live. It contains, among other things, some material that they wanted to use but didn’t make it past the NBC censors. One of then was a faux commercial for “Placenta Helper” box dinners!

At some point, the “Placenta Helper” skit did make it on the air. I remember seeing it back in ’75 or ’76.

Shouldn’t this mom be grateful, seeing that her kind shuttles kids to chickenpox parties to get sick “naturally”?

The good thing is that this child avoided the nasty vaccine Toxins, and can look forward to the possibility of shingles (which is also natural).

Her daughter has chicken pox and MAM is absolutely certain she caught the virus from a child who was recently vaccinated and shedding.

She must’ve had an awfully weak immune system for that to have happened.

Perhaps microbial colonization of the placenta is directly via maternal lymphatics of the small intestine per my article posted above #104, however, it remains unknown as to whether or not the placenta has a lymphatic system.
“The role of lymphatics in placentation has been scantily studied and the true existence of placental lymphatics is under debate.”

It was only recently confirmed the brain has a lymphatic system:

But Narad, her children eat all of that pure, wholesome food and get loads of that magical immune stimulating Mommylove- they must have totally perfected immune systems.
It must be other people’s vaccine shedding.

From the comments in that thread – another parent’s long miserable, waiting it out “natural” approach to a house full of sick children.
“We have 10 unimmunized kids, 7 of them under 10. We do home church through winter months after picking up something several winters ago from a recently immunized child or children at church, even though we don’t use nursery or children’s church. 1 of our children ended up admitted to the hospital over it and 6 others were very sick, we didn’t leave the house for 16 wks and fought it all naturally w/o antibiotics. Now we have our kids avoid church from now till April, we don’t eat out or take them to large, crowded public places. We enjoy small get together with others and lots of outside time complimented with good, whole foods, herbs, homeopathics and vitamins. We were SO amazingly healrhy last winter. We had a hard time finding friends or family who weren’t sick to hang out with, so we made our own fun with movies, games, craft projects and even some home improvement projects. We have decided to continue these ideas this winter as 4 of our children are under 5 and joining groups for 1 night of fun which leads to 3 months of hibernation and mom playing Florence Nightingale, is just not worth it. I wish those sick and “shedding” people would have the same decency!. ”

AND MAM’s making reeeeeeeal sure her infant child is put at the same risk:
” We’ll see in another week or so! If no one else has gotten it by the end of incubation, we’ll say they’re safe and start being out again. They sure were thoroughly exposed, lots of snuggling together and my daughter was kissing on the baby..”

@janerella 117
I’m sorry, but I can’t really consider that a modern mama. Ten children, and 7 of them under 10? Sounds pretty old fashioned to me. Something from the times women were supposed to bear as much children as possible.

@Renate – Oh but its Modern Alternative Mama, didntcha know?! And she only has 5 kids. That comment @117 is from one of her loon fans.

I know, but well, modern is not really something that comes to mind if someone who considers herself as a fan of modern alternative mama’s, has 10 children. Not even in combination with alternative. Alternative I associate mostly with some back to nature, vegan / raw food, kind of people.

I still have my son’s placenta in the freezer. We’re planning on burying it and planting something over top. I must say, of all the crazy things MAM has come up with, this is probably the top, if not close to it.

As far as the whole historical did humans ever eat it, and why we stopped. I theorise that as potential prey species, we likely did, but probably stopped when we realised that fires were a better way to get rid of them.

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