Placenta Encapsulation Benefits – The Evidence?
What is placenta encapsulation?
Placental encapsulation is the practice of ingesting the placenta after it has been steamed, dehydrated, ground, and placed into pills. The placenta is the organ that surrounds the foetus in the womb and allows for the exchange of nutrients, blood, and waste with the mother. The custom of consuming the placenta, often in a pill form via the process of placental encapsulation, is centuries old, practiced most often in Chinese medicine. It is a controversial tradition that has been gaining traction in the United States and United Kingdom for several decades.
What good does placenta encapsulation do?
I wrote last time about the suggestion that placenta remedies might only work through a placebo effect, and outlined how to my mind my anecdotal evidence disproves this theory. This belief comes from my years in practice and the benefits mothers tell me they have gained from placenta pills and remedies.
This blog looks at the scientific case.
As NHS Choices explains:
“When a person uses any type of health treatment and sees an improvement in their symptoms, they may be experiencing the placebo effect. For hundreds of years, doctors have known that when a patient with a health condition expects their symptoms to improve, they often do improve. Today, we know that patients who are given empty injections or pills that they believe contain medicine can experience an improvement in a wide range of health conditions. It can affect all of us and can occur when a person uses any kind of health treatment – either conventional or complementary and alternative.”
It is true that there has been very little scientific research to prove the benefits of placenta capsules, placenta pills and placenta remedies.
Research does in fact go back to 1918!
I have found a study at Harvard Medical School entitled
"THE EFFECT OF THE MATERNAL INGESTION OF DESICCATED PLACENTA UPON THE GROWTH RATE OF BREAST-FED INFANTS."
It found that the babies did grow faster, but would not have been carried out to the standards we require today.
It is hard to carry out scientific testing on placenta capsules and remedies. They are unique to mother and baby, and remedies are made for that individual, so organising any kind of testing is difficult, and there are currently no laboratories testing placenta pills in the UK. (I have tried in vain, despite the help of government bodies, Environmental Health and Public Health England.)
One of the few examples of modern research was published in 2016 by PubMed (the US National Library of Medicine). The authors highlighted: “Maternal placentophagy has recently emerged as a rare but increasingly popular practice among women in industrialized countries who often ingest the placenta as a processed, encapsulated supplement, seeking its many purported postpartum health benefits. Little scientific research, however, has evaluated these claims, and concentrations of trace micronutrients/elements in encapsulated placenta have never been examined.”
Their research found that placenta processed for encapsulation contains modest concentrations of 14 trace minerals and elements and 17 hormones. They concluded: “The results revealed detectable concentrations for 16 of the hormones analyzed, some in concentrations that could conceivably yield physiological effects.”
So, there may be some basis for the claims so many women make for placenta benefits.
Here is what one mother told me:
“I used Amanda's services after having my first child at age 42. I wanted to try everything available to avoid post-natal depression and to facilitate breastfeeding, given the pregnancy was a bit of a shock and I was to be a single parent. Obviously I can't say whether it was definitely due to the pills or not, but what I can say is this; despite the horrendous lack of sleep and emotional up and downs, I was able to exclusively breast feed my son for over 4 months and then continue mixed feeding until 7 months, and never once had even a whiff of the dreaded PND. Amanda was also extremely supportive in the early days, going above and beyond all expectations.”
To read more testimonials, click here: https://www.placentapractice.co.uk/about/testimoni...