Placenta Encapsulation: Safety, Benefits And Risks

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Placenta encapsulationiXThe process of filling and enclosing capsules for human consumption involves the conversion of the human placenta into dried powder and processed pills, which women ingest postpartum. Several mammals eat their placenta after giving birth, but the tradition is not culturally widespread in humans (1). Although some women believe it might provide several benefits to help them rebound after childbirth, some experts think it may harm the mother and the baby.

Read on to learn about placenta encapsulation, its types, benefits, adverse effects, and more.

In This Article

Is Placenta Encapsulation Safe?

Safety of placenta pills is not fully known

Image: Shutterstock

The human placenta is known to be a good source of essential micronutrients such as iron and zinc, which are required for healing and overall recovery for postpartum women; however, it also contains minimal amounts of toxic elements (2). Therefore, following the process of placenta encapsulation without proper medical advice is not advisable. Consequently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women avoid consuming placenta or its capsules to prevent the potential risks of acquiring and transmitting infections (3).

Furthermore, when the encapsulation procedure is done under non-stringent conditions or when the pills are consumed without considering other maternal health factors, they may do more harm than good.

Did you know?
Consuming placenta originally began during the 1970s in the US (4).

What Are The Encapsulation Methods?

The placenta encapsulation process could be of the following two types (5).

  1. Dried capsules

The placenta is extracted, cleaned thoroughly, sliced thin, cooked, dried (or dehydrated), and ground into fine powder. The powder is then put into capsules and taken as pills.

  1. Traditional Chinese medicine

The placenta is used as a traditional medicine in Chinese culture. It is steamed, sliced, dried (or dehydrated), and encapsulated in medicinal form. However, a Chinese pill may also contain additional elements or herbs and may be used by people other than postpartum mothers.

Some placenta pills may contain herbs

Image: Shutterstock

Note: Some women may also consume placental tissues in other forms, such as blending them into smoothies or as an added ingredient to a meal. But, consuming raw tissues may cause undesirable health consequences (6).

How Is Placenta Encapsulation Done?

The process of placenta encapsulation must be performed in a duly sterile environment by specialists, and it generally involves the following steps (7).

  1. Recovering the placenta within a few hours of delivery.
  2. Cleaning (rinsing under water) of the placenta until the blood and clots are removed.
  3. Chopping the placenta into thin slices.
  4. Drying the pieces in a dehydrator (for 8 hours) at 54°C.
  5. Grinding the slices into a fine powder using a food processor.
  6. Filling the powder in edible capsules.
Quick fact
Each capsule (encapsulated placenta pill) may contain roughly 500mg of powdered placenta components (7).

What Are The Perceived Benefits Of Eating Placenta?

Placenta pills have several postulated benefits

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Although there is a shortage of credible research backing the benefits of placenta encapsulation, it is believed to confer the following health advantages to mothers post-childbirth (8) (9).

  • Boosting energy
  • Controlling postpartum bleeding
  • Reducing mood swings
  • Enhancing mother-infant bonding
  • Promoting milk production
  • Alleviating pain
  • Preventing stress and postpartum depression
Expert says
Dr. Karen Callen, MD, senior obstetrician-gynecologist at Golden Gate Obstetrics & Gynecology, suggests that although women may consider taking these pills for their theoretical action in reducing postpartum depression, there is no reliable evidence supporting this association. Therefore, women must follow safe methods per their doctor’s advice to manage postpartum depression (8).

What Are The Potential Risks Of Eating Placenta?

Although its benefits are widely spoken about, ingesting the placenta capsules may put a mother and her baby at risk of certain side effects, such as (6) (7) (10):

  • Higher risk of maternal infections
  • Risk of transmitting infections to the infant (such as group-B strep infectioniXA bacterial infection that may cause severe illness, especially in newborns )
  • Risk of exposure to toxic metals such as lead and mercury and drugs (from the childbirth process)
  • Increased risk of experiencing blood clots
  • Adverse effects on breast milk production (particularly when mothers have blocked ducts or mastitis)
Placenta pills have their share of side effects

Image: Shutterstock

Should You Try Placenta Encapsulation?

Several women ponder that the placenta can continue to provide health advantages even after childbirth, similar to how it aided their child during pregnancy. However, this should not be your motive to eat placenta or its capsules postpartum. Moreover, placenta encapsulation is not an FDA-approved process, and incorrectly processed placenta supplements may pose serious risks (11). Therefore, you must approach the process with caution and speak to your healthcare provider about its effectiveness and consequences.

Discuss with your doctor before consuming placenta pills

Image: Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is placenta encapsulation the same thing as eating the placenta?

Encapsulation is the process of filling a substance into a capsule. Most women consume the placenta in the encapsulated capsule form (12). However, some women may also consume dehydrated placenta without encapsulation.

2. What is the taste of the placenta?

The taste of the placenta is not well-documented, but a few studies revealed that women who consumed placenta reported an unsavory taste and unpleasant smell (13).

3. Is consuming the placenta cannibalism?

Although the maternal placenta legally belongs to the mother (7), a study suggests that a few people may ethically categorize placentophagyiXIngestion of the placenta after giving birth in mammals as a possible form of cannibalismiXA phenomenon of humans consuming their flesh or internal organs ; however, no deemed authority has proven this conjecture (14).

Although most women who tried them may claim the supposed benefits of placenta-encapsulated supplements, there are no definitive scientific studies to prove the alleged benefits of it on a large scale. Moreover, many experts recommend avoiding placenta capsules during lactation due to potential risks to the baby. If you still wish to have encapsulated placenta, make sure you plan for it during your pregnancy after consulting in detail about it with your healthcare provider.

Infographic: Theorized Benefits And Probable Risks Of Consuming Placenta

Some women may consider consuming placenta under the notion that it might help them recover and improve their overall health after childbirth. However, the validity of such claims remains inconclusive due to a lack of robust scientific evidence. Therefore, if you are interested in ingesting placenta capsules, give this infographic a read as it outlines the presumed benefits and adverse effects of the practice.

postulated benefits and side effects of ingesting placenta (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Some women consume placenta capsules after childbirth for supposed health benefits.
  • There is no scientific evidence to confirm the claimed benefits of ingesting placenta.
  • Consuming the placenta may also have negative effects on a woman and her baby’s health.
  • It is best to consult your healthcare team for safe and proven alternatives.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Alex Farr et al. (2018); Human placentophagy: a review.
  2. Sharon M.Young et al. (2016); Human placenta processed for encapsulation contains modest concentrations of 14 trace minerals and elements.
  3. Genevieve L. Buser et al. (2016); Notes from the Field: Late-Onset Infant Group B Streptococcus Infection Associated with Maternal Consumption of Capsules Containing Dehydrated Placenta — Oregon 2016.
  4. Sophia K. Johnson et al. (2018); Placenta – Worth Trying? Human Maternal Placentophagy: Possible Benefit and Potential Risks.
  5. Mark B.Kristal et al. (2023); Placentophagia and the Tao of POEF.
  6. Placenta Pills: Do They Really Help?; Cleaveland Clinic
  7. Sophia K. Johnson et al. (2018); Placenta – Worth Trying? Human Maternal Placentophagy: Possible Benefit and Potential Risks.!po=53.5714
  8. Cynthia W. Coyle et al. (2015); Placentophagy: Therapeutic Miracle or Myth?
  9. Placenta Encapsulation- What Should You Know?
  10. Daniel Mota-Rojas et al. (2020); Consumption of Maternal Placenta in Humans and Nonhuman Mammals: Beneficial and Adverse Effects.!po=30.0000
  11. Why I can’t recommend eating your placenta.
  12. Daniel C. Benyshek et al. (2018); Placentophagy among women planning community births in the United States: Frequency rationale and associated neonatal outcomes.
  13. Emily HartHayes; (2016); Consumption of the Placenta in the Postpartum Period.
  14. Riley Botelle and Chris Willott; (2020); Birth attitudes and placentophagy: a thematic discourse analysis of discussions on UK parenting forums.
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