PLACENTA POWER ; Proponents Say Pills Offer Health Benefits

By Gish, Sarah | News Sentinel, February 16, 2016 | Go to article overview

PLACENTA POWER ; Proponents Say Pills Offer Health Benefits


Gish, Sarah, News Sentinel


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For weeks following the birth of her first son, Morgan Jones felt angry and overwhelmed.

"It was very illogical," says Jones, who lives in Lee's Summit.

"I had this beautiful baby in front of me, and I didn't want anything to do with it."

Her symptoms were typical of postpartum depression, a serious mood disorder that affects up to 1 in 7 mothers. Other symptoms include anxiety, sadness and insomnia. Unlike the "baby blues," postpartum depression doesn't go away on its own. It's often treated with antidepressants, but many women say they've found a natural alternative: consuming their placentas in pill form.

The practice, called placenta encapsulation, involves ingesting the organ after it has been cleaned, steamed, dehydrated, ground into powder and pressed into capsules. It has roots in traditional Chinese medicine and has become more common in the United States over the past 10 years, thanks in part to endorsements from celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and January Jones.

Proponents say the hormones and nutrients in the placenta help alleviate postpartum depression, lactation problems and postnatal bleeding. But there's little scientific evidence to support those claims. And many women just can't stomach the idea.

"I thought it was weird," Morgan Jones says, "like a voodoo-type thing."

But by her fourth baby, she was willing to try anything that might possibly help her postpartum depression. In 2011, after her daughter was born at home, Jones encapsulated her placenta using instructions from online articles and tutorials. She says the pills worked wonders.

"I had tons of energy, and I felt happy," Jones says.

"I felt like me."

A GROWING BUSINESS

Jones continued her research into encapsulation, and by mid-2012 she was making placenta pills for other Kansas City-area moms. Her company, Fruit of Labor Placenta Encapsulation, is one of several in the Kansas City area that specialize in the service.

Placenta encapsulation is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but specialists follow the bloodborne pathogens standard laid out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.

Some specialists dehydrate the placenta from its raw state because they say that preserves more nutrients. Others insist that the traditional Chinese medicine method of steaming the placenta is safer because it kills bacteria. Some specialists conduct the encapsulation in their clients' kitchens; others work from home. …

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