#70 – Eat my Placenta, Say What? ** May 6, 2014
Guests // Jodi Selander & Sharon Young ** Host // Chandler Marrs, PhD
Why on earth would anyone eat a placenta?
Although prominent in Chinese Medicine and across most mammalian species, placental ingestion or placentophagy, has only recently gained popularity in Western cultures. The placenta plays an important role in endocrine functioning and fetal nutrient supply during pregnancy. After childbirth, the mom is depleted of these critical hormones and nutrients. According to placentophagy practitioners and researchers, the hormones, nutrients and other compounds contained within the placenta at the time of parturition may still be beneficial to mothers during their postpartum recovery.
Over the last decade, an entire industry supporting postpartum placental ingestion has sprung up. Women are clamoring to experience the purported health benefits associated with placentophagy. Stories abound detailing the positive experiences associated with placentophagy along with a few not so positive experiences. Is it safe? Is it effective?
The research is sparse but growing. Early research suggested that placentophagia induces lactation and reduces pain. More recent research suggest placental ingestion may offset symptoms of postpartum depression. Until more research is conducted, it is a difficult decision, one fraught with controversy. Physicians, hospitals, and regulatory agencies are not sure what to make of these practices. Some are in favor, others are most decidedly against.
For this episode of the Heal with Friends podcast, we’ll talk to leaders in the field of placentophagy, Jodi Selander, founder of Placenta Benefits, and graduate student Sharon Young. Both women have worked arduously to understand the risks and benefits of placentophagia. Together with a team of researchers at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), they have investigated ethnographic records about the practice of human maternal placentophagy, tested the availability of various chemical analytes in placental tissue before and after placenta preparation, surveyed women’s experiences with placentophagy, and gathered preliminary data for the currently underway placenta versus placebo double-blind trial.
Jodi Selandar has been working with postpartum women for over nine years. She is the Director of Placenta Benefits, an informational resource and training organization dedicated to natural postpartum recovery. She launched the first training course for placenta professionals in 2007. Since then, she has published numerous articles on postpartum wellness, including peer-reviewed research articles on human maternal placentophagy. She is a member of the Placentophagy Research Team at UNLV. She is also the author of The Postpartum Survival Guide, a guidebook for parents. Jodi is a regular speaker at conferences on the subject of postpartum and teaches classes for parents and care providers. She is a single mom and lives in Las Vegas with her three young daughters.
Sharon Young is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology Department at UNLV studying biomedical anthropology. Her research focuses on maternal reproductive health and, more specifically, human maternal placentophagy. She has studied placentophagy with an interdisciplinary team of researchers for the past seven years and this work has been highlighted in university, local, and national media outlets including newspaper and magazine articles, and television and radio interviews.
Chandler Marrs, PhD, is proud mom of 20 year-old twins, a research scientist, an entrepreneur, a lifelong jock, and a fierce women’s health advocate. She has spent the last 15 years in women’s health research, first in perinatal mental health and hormones, and more recently in medication-induced mitochondrial dysfunction. Dissatisfied with the state of health and hormone research, she created Hormones MatterTM, an online journal featuring research reviews, commentary, and patient stories across a range of health topics. Concerned with the lack of medication testing in women and children, she conducts online, direct-to-patient, real world medication safety and efficacy studies through her company, Lucine Health Sciences. Her most recent endeavor is the online social health site, Heal with FriendsTM, focused on finding healing solutions for complex and chronic diseases and medication and vaccine reactions.