Hello Professor Winston,

Recently placentophagy has been gaining popularity. My sister who is 6 month pregnant is also contemplating this. My sister will have to be responsible for ensuring her placenta is freezing and storage until her placenta is collected at an arranged date. The person who would be doing the encapsulating process will be doing this in her home.This person claims that she only deals with one placenta at a time and follows health and safety methods. She is not a medical professional. We have not met this person before, only came across her website.

Much has been publicised about the benefits. I think there are alternative methods to arrive at the same benefits. All the goodness which is said to exist in a placenta would have originated from the body in the first place. I am wonder why one would need to eat one’s own placenta to get those nutrients/vits/antibodies, when one has already got them?
There seems to be more news on the benefits of placentophagy and not enough about the risks on the internet.

I am concerned about the risks should my sister goes ahead with this.

What would be the associated risks with placentophagy?
Could one get a disease which will only materialise years later ?

Dear M,

This business of eating the placenta seems a pure fad. And it is a fad which is now being exploited commercially by companies who seem to be making a quick gain from the worried well.

You are absolutely right in your email – there can be no nutrients that a normal mother is missing which will be supplied by encapsulated placental tissue. Moreover, there are theoretical risks which, though not high, concern serious issues of contamination, possible virus infection and so on.

It is true that claims are being made that women who take this ‘treatment’ feel better and do not suffer post natal depression. But even if true, this is almost certainly a placebo effect and has never been tested in properly conducted trials. In summary, it doesn’t add up and the capsules, or the placenta itself, are better dug into the soil around your rose-bushes where at least they will provide a useful source of manure.

Yours sincerely
Robert Winston

You can help support our vital research by making a donation today!