January Jones eats her own placenta and recommends other moms do it too.
The Mad Men actress told People.com that taking placenta capsules daily, along with eating well and taking vitamins and teas, helps her keep up her energy after giving birth to her son this past September.
“Your placenta gets dehydrated and made into vitamins,” she explained. “It’s something I was very hesitant about, but we’re the only mammals who don’t ingest our own placentas.”
She adds: “It’s not witch-crafty or anything! I suggest it to all moms!”
While the mere thought of placentophagy, or eating placenta, makes plenty of people squeamish ( ABC News’s headline of Ms. Jones’s post-partum revelation reads: “Mad Mom?”), the practice is not at all new or uncommon.
As MSNBC reported in 2007, new mothers in parts of Indonesia, the Czech Republic and Morocco once believed their future fertility was aided by placentophagy; Chinese women believed eating dried placenta helped speed up labour; and women in Hungary believed that burning the placenta and putting it in their husband’s drinks would render them infertile – a form of birth control, of sorts.
Neither is Ms. Jones the only celebrity who has brought placentophagy into the spotlight. In 2006, actor Tom Cruise had reportedly planned to eat his partner Katie Holmes’s afterbirth.
Recipes abound on the Internet for preparing placenta on pizza, in casseroles and in stew.
Although some new moms swear that eating afterbirth provides a host of benefits, including warding off postpartum blues, science has yet to back up those claims.
“There’s certainly no data,” ob-gyn and psychology expert Diana Dell of Duke University told MSNBC. “And, truthfully, the only place there may be data is in veterinary journals.”
While some experts warned ABC News that the growing placenta-encapsulating industry is a scam, others aren’t discounting the potential benefits of placentophagy.
“There is certainly a potential medicinal use,” ABC News quoted Dr. David Katz, founder of the Yale Prevention Center, as saying. “This is a time-honoured cultural practice of eating the placenta. It is nutrient-rich and a source of hormones.”
As long as you’re not relying on it as a cure for postpartum depression or expecting any miracles, eating your placenta probably won’t do harm – that is, if you can stomach the idea.