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Why Do People Eat Placenta?

Updated on March 4, 2014

Some cultures have considered and still do consider the placenta to be sacred or in some sense "magical". The ancient Egyptians did and the Navajo do. The Maori of New Zealand bury the placenta after childbirth as a symbol of humans' connection to the Earth. This practice of burying the placenta is also done in Cambodia, Costa Rica and Bolivia. It is believed in those cultures to help the health of both mother and baby. In the Ukraine, Transylvania and Japan it is believed the placenta can influence fertility. Some cultures regard the placenta as another baby, such as those in Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana and Hawaii.

The placenta has been regarded as a life-giving and sustaining force. After all, it was capable of sustaining a life in the womb.

The Vietnamese, Hungarians, Italians and Chinese believe it to have health benefits. In fact, the Chinese have used it as a medicine for several hundred years.

However, the practice of eating the placenta has been very rare in history. Researchers attribute the practice to famine. It just wasn't that common and, I suppose, it is logical to think it came out of something as devastating as famine.

It's an unusual thing to do for humans, but animals generally do eat the placenta after they've given birth. Maybe they're on to something.

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When Did People Start Eating Placenta?

Eating placenta, among humans, really didn't become a phenomenon until the 1970s, an outgrowth of the counter-culture and occurring mostly among white middle-class women. Evidently on a commune sometime during that era, women began to try it out.

And they had reasons. In fact, mostly they said the effect of doing so was beneficial and had high praise for the benefits of eating placenta.

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What are the Benefits of Eating Placenta?

Those women on the commune said that after eating placenta their moods were boosted, they were energized and that, believe it or not, it was delicious.

And they're not the only ones who attribute these qualities to placenta.

After all, it is rich in iron and this is said to be one of the benefits of eating placenta; that it replenishes iron in your body.

The women also say the placenta looks like a "tree of life" and represents the body's ability to give, protect and sustain life.

It is said that eating placenta helps fight post-partum depression, aids in lactation and has plenty of nutrients. Makes sense because the placenta is what nourished the baby in the womb.

In Chinese medicine it has been used for its nutrients for recovery after childbirth, to prevent hemorrhaging and to help produce breast milk.

Other things that placenta is good for:

  • Balancing hormones
  • Help uterus return to pre-pregnancy state
  • Reduce post-natal bleeding
  • Increase energy (as mentioned)
  • Increase milk (as mentioned)
  • Makes you happier (as mentioned)

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How the placenta is commonly consumed:

  • Cooked, sliced and frozen and then blended into a smoothie
  • Cooked, sliced and dehydrated and made into a pill

How is Placenta Prepared?

One way placenta is prepared for consumption is to steam it, slice it into small chunks, freeze it and then blend it in a smoothie. It is said to be delicious by those who consume it this way.

It is also taken in pill form. In the process of making it a pill, it is steamed, sliced, dehydrated and then made into a pill.

Why People Eat Placenta

Take-Away

So, the placenta definitely has nutrients in it because it was what sustained the baby before he or she was born. There is nothing to indicate that eating it is harmful, though there's no proof, other than personal testimony, that it is necessarily beneficial.

There's no particular danger in eating the placenta and, evidently, eating it makes a good number of mothers feel good.

Have at it!

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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      We don't eat placenta, but my mom kept all our placentas because she believed if you don't, your children would go far away from you. She kept our placetas wrapped in tissue with her most precious jewels, and we found them after she died. She was loved by all her children and had their devotion, too. I don't think it had to do with the placenta, though, I think it was just her.

    • NathaNater profile image
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      NathaNater 3 years ago

      That is very interesting, Mona. She sounds like she was a great lady.

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