- What is placenta encapsulation?
- What are the benefits of placenta encapsulation?
- What are the risks of placenta encapsulation?
- How to get your placenta encapsulated?
Placenta encapsulation is a century-old practice followed in different ways, in different countries. It is believed to offer many health benefits to the woman who had just delivered a child, although there is no scientific evidence to support this theory.
What Is Placenta Encapsulation?
The placenta is the uterine organ that develops with conception. It plays an integral role in supporting the tiny life inside the womb by providing nutrients and oxygen through the umbilical cord.
Placenta encapsulation is a procedure that involves steaming, dehydrating, and grinding the placenta into a powered form and filling it into capsules for consumption (1). As soon as the woman gives birth, the placenta is removed and subjected to this procedure for encapsulation.
Procedure for placenta encapsulation
People follow two processing methods (2):
- Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM): The placenta is steamed with ginger and lemon, and then dehydrated. Steaming kills the bacteria and dehydration prevents it from getting spoiled.
- Raw dehydrated method: The placenta is sliced in its fresh and raw form and dehydrated immediately in a food dehydrator or oven. Dehydrating the placenta ensures that it is free of any pathogens and safe for consumption.
But is taking placenta capsules beneficial for you? Keep reading to know more about it.
[ Read: What Is A Placental Lake ]
What Are The Benefits Of Placenta Encapsulation?
The placenta has several important components that are believed to be beneficial for women after pregnancy (3). They include:
- Progesterone, estrogen, testosterone: These are essential for the development of mammary gland that aids in lactation, stabilizing postpartum mood, regulating postpartum uterine cramping, decreasing depression, and stimulating the libido.
- Prolactin: Enhances lactation, and the motherly instinct.
- Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH): Regulation of CRH can prevent postpartum depression.
- Oxytocin: Decreases pain, increases bonding between the mother and the child, reduces the production of the stress hormone Cortisol, controls postpartum bleeding, and enhances breastfeeding.
- Placental opioid-enhancing factor (POEF): It promotes the production of natural opioids such as endorphins in the body, reduces pain, establishes the feelings of good health.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone: Regulates the thyroid gland, boosts energy and helps in recovering from stressful events.
- Cortisone: Helps in reducing inflammation, swelling, and promotes healing.
- Interferon: Supports the immune system.
- Prostaglandins: Produces anti-inflammatory effects, regulates uterine contractions after birth to bring it to its original size.
- Hemoglobin: Boosts energy level.
- Iron: Treats anemia, increases energy, reduces depression and fatigue.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG): The antibody molecule promotes immunity.
- Urokinase-inhibiting factor and Factor XIII: Helps stop bleeding and promotes healing of the wounds.
- Human placental lactogen (hPL): The hormone with growth-promoting and lactogenic properties, promotes mammary gland growth, regulates maternal glucose, protein, and fat levels.
Placenta encapsulation can also be risky. Keep reading to know about the risks involved.
[ Read: Causes Of Blood Clots In Placenta ]
What Are The Risks Of Placenta Encapsulation?
Though there is no scientific evidence of the side-effects of placenta consumption, some theoretical risks include (1):
- Dizziness or jitteriness
- A mild headache
- Transmission of infectious pathogens present in the placental tissues. Also, the method of preparation can expose the placenta to infectious agents that can harm you or your baby.
- Transfer of blood-borne diseases (HIV or hepatitis virus) if a person other than the mother consumes the placenta pill.
- Contamination of the placenta due to unsafe handling.
- Risk of thromboembolic events (formation of blood clots that obstruct the blood flow in the circulatory system). As the placenta is a main source of estrogen, its consumption as pills can increase the hormone level, causing thromboembolic events.
In an incident reported by the CDC in the year 2016, a newborn was said to have been infected with group B streptococcus despite a non-complicated pregnancy and no Group B streptococcus infection being reported of the mother during pregnancy. It was found that the bacteria was transmitted from the placenta capsules, infected with the same bacteria, which the mother had ingested (4).
As per the CDC, the placental material might not have been dehydrated at the required temperature that reduces the count of GBS bacteria. This could have further led to GBS skin and intestinal colonization that was later passed on to the infant.
Hence, the CDC warns new mothers against placenta encapsulation. Since there are no proper regulations regarding the maintenance of the placental material after childbirth, it becomes necessary to ensure proper and safe handling of the placenta encapsulation.
If you need to encapsulate your placenta, how can you get it done? We will tell you about it in the following section.
How To Get The Placenta Encapsulated?
If you want to get the placenta encapsulation done, then get in touch with the professionals who are trained in this procedure. However, there is no regulation passed under the law to conduct this procedure. One can also get this done at their home.
Before you try this, make sure to consult your doctor to know what is best for you and your baby.
[ Read: Placenta Previa Treatment ]
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How is the placenta stored?
The placenta is placed in a ziplock bag and transferred into a container with ice, or it can be refrigerated at your home. Improper storage can make it unsuitable for encapsulation. After six weeks of postpartum, the capsules should be kept in the freezer to prevent deterioration and can be stored for up to one year (5).
2. How many capsules can be made from the placenta?
Around 150 capsules can be made on an average from the placenta. The capsules should be stored in dark and cool places.
Did You Know?
- ‘Placenta’ is the Latin word for “cake”.
- Its weight is around one-sixth the weight of the baby (it is usually 1 to 3lb).
- Dried placenta medicine, also known as “zi he che”, is being ingested by men in China for the past 600 years, to boost their energy.
- The stem cells, which can heal organs such as the liver, brain, lung, and kidney in mothers, can pass over to the placenta from the baby. The placenta develops cells that prevent breast cancer and protects the heart of the mother. The placenta is referred to as “tree of life” in some cultures.
This procedure is gaining traction in the western countries, and there is an increase in the number of people going for placenta encapsulation. But since there is lack of research and evidence in this field, one needs to make an informed decision after weighing the benefits and risks.
Have you tried placenta consumption? What was your experience? Let us know in the comment section below.
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