Does eating your own placenta pose any health risk?

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Peter Maree

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Peter Maree asked the Naked Scientists:
My wife is to give birth in November and, while visiting a food show, we were approached by a lady with a pamphlet that offered a organic approach to birth by: (wait for it) cooking her placenta after birth to restore her biological levels as if we were back in nature.

Eating human meat sometimes cause problems as seen in Cannibalistic societies.

Now my multi-pronged question: Would this imply:
1) a placenta does not carry this threat
2) seeing the donor and the consumer is the same gene structure this poses no problem.
3) they also offer a dried cow placenta in capsules version; what are the implications of this?
4) why does the placenta (if any) have such a high energy value?


Peter Maree
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 13/04/2014 12:09:11 by _system »


Offline CliffordK

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Re: Does eating your own placenta pose any health risk?
« Reply #1 on: 13/04/2014 17:52:46 »
I know pigs, and perhaps many other animals will eat the placenta after birth. 

Assuming it is the woman that is eating the placenta, it should be safe enough.  It isn't exactly her own DNA as it is half the child's DNA (which includes the father's contribution), and half the mother's.  However, there should not be any pathogens that she has not already been exposed to.  It is probably little different from licking the blood from a cut finger.  It is probably ok for the husband to share, assuming the two people already have a close relationship, and already share most potential pathogens.

Cooking it could kill most of the bacteria and yeasts picked up during the birth process.

As far as extra nutrients???  Perhaps iron and blood.  It may be little different from having a good steak.  In the animal world, it would give a good protein supplement that herbivores would not ordinarily get.  Even carnivores may benefit from the meal just following giving birth.   It would also help sanitize the nesting area, or reduce some of the smells that might attract predators.

I suppose, thinking of potential risks.  Perhaps there would be a slight FUTURE risk if the infant is Rh Positive, and the mother is Rh Negative, and the mother is considering having more children, in which case I might avoid it.

You may also consider Cord Blood Banking, although I'm not sure if it is available for home birth.


Offline yellowcat

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Re: Does eating your own placenta pose any health risk?
« Reply #2 on: 08/07/2014 19:41:31 »
"It may be little different from having a good steak. "
Never eaten placenta but the texture looks more like liver.
As has been said the mother will have been exposed to any bacteria or viruses present, and placenta eating is I think the norm for many mammals, it certainly is for cats and dogs.