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About Placenta Encapsulation

One of the frequent questions we get asked is about the ancient tradition of placenta encapsulation. Understandably so! It is a unique, centuries old form of postpartum support. Read below to learn if placenta encapsulation is right for you!

The Placenta 

What even is the placenta? Not every new parent knows the answer to this question, so you’re not alone if you’re unsure.

It is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. It is unique in that it only exists during pregnancy, unlike other organs. Its purpose is twofold: It houses the developing baby inside the amniotic sac, as well as the umbilical cord that allows for the exchange of nutrients, oxygen, and blood between the pregnant person and baby. After birthing your baby, your placenta is birthed from the uterus, and the umbilical cord is cut.  

 Placenta Encapsulation

Placenta consumption (sometimes called placentophagy), is a centuries-old practice. It is most well-known to those who study and practice Chinese medicine; although the practice has grown in popularity around the world as more and more parents try it in hopes for an easier and calmer postpartum experience. 

In other words, the process allows for the ingesting the placenta after it has been dehydrated, ground, and placed into pills. Whaaaa? That’s right. 

The capsules containing dried placenta are taken by the birthing parent in the postpartum period after giving birth, (usually within the first six or so weeks), or they can be taken during a menstrual period or even during menopause.

“But why?” you ask. Well the belief is that the hormones contained in the capsules help counter some of the symptoms of these times of fluctuation and uncertainty in the body.

So what are the benefits?

Well every person is different, every body is different. That also means that each body’s needs will be slightly unique, as will the placenta itself.

People have reported everything, from radiant skin and hair, to increased energy and milk supply. But remember to view the placenta as nutrition, rather than like a highly-regulated drug—it is nutrition. Like most things you ingest, it will house vitamins, minerals, chemical compounds, and even hormones. And all of these will have an effect on your body. 

With a new topic of this nature, many people want to read more behind the science, and reported statistics. Of course they do!

Tap here to inquire about placenta encapsulation through Doulas of North County.

Read through the below information from APPA and let us know if you have any questions.

“In an analysis from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, the placenta was shown to contain detectable concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, mercury, molybdenum, rubidium, selenium, strontium, uranium, and zinc. There were not found to be significant amounts of any of the tested heavy metals. Some of the nutrients are at levels high enough to potentially contribute to recommended daily allowances.

Hormones are also present in encapsulated placenta.  In a review of maternal salivary hormones, researchers found “detectable changes in circulating hormone concentrations that could potentially impact a mother’s hormonal physiology.” Specifically, samples of placenta capsules contained 11-deoxycortisol, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, 7-ketodehydroepiandrosterone, aldosterone, allopregnanolone, androstenedione, corticosterone, cortisol, cortisone,dehydroepiandrosterone, estradiol,estriol, estrone, progesterone, and testosterone. Estradiol, progesterone and allopregnanolone were found in “clinically significant” levels or levels high enough to affect the body (when dosed at the typical 3300 mg dosage).

Incidentally, allopregnanolone is the active ingredient in the recently approved drug brexanalone, seen as a promising pharmaceutical treatment for postpartum mood disorders.

189 women over age 18 responded to a 21 question survey conducted in 2010 by the University of Las Vegas Anthropology Department. Of those surveyed, the most commonly reported benefits of placentophagy were–


  • improved mood (40%),
  • increased energy (26%), 
  • improved lactation (15%),
  • alleviated bleeding (7%). 


Of the most commonly reported negative effects–


  • 69% reported no negative effects, 
  • unpleasant taste (7%), 
  • and headache (4%).


A link between decreased maternal exhaustion and high quality sleep was found connected to mothers who ingested their placenta.(Selander).

The Research Validates Some of The Most Common Benefits Reported


  • Overall decreased recovery time
  • Reduced postpartum bleeding and faster uterine involution (involution refers to the uterus returning to its pre-pregnancy size)
  • A decrease in the incidence and severity of postpartum depression and “baby blues”
  • Increased energy
  • Restoration of blood iron levels
  • Increase in milk production
  • Better sleep”


Are you interested in having this service?

There are various methods of placenta preparation, but the most traditional in today's world is to have a certified specialist make easy-to-take capsules. They can either steam the placenta, or not, prior to the dehydrating process.

Why the two options?

Traditional preparation (steamed prior to dehydration)

  • These have a lower microbial count and may be the preferred method when GBS colonization is present. They have a lower hormone concentration. 

Raw start preparation (not steamed prior to dehydration)

  • These have a higher hormone content and a higher microbial count. Some people find them very powerful, so the effects can be managed by the amount ingested (eg, take less if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious). This preparation is well within safe food parameters when appropriate temperatures are used. 

Other birth parents may opt for a tincture or freezing the placenta for use in smoothies. However, these methods are less common, as the dehydration process greatly extends the shelf life of the nutrients within. Not to mention the lack of data available on what freezing a placenta for smoothie storage will have.

If you have questions on how I can support you through your journey, contact me today!

If you’re local to the San Diego area, join us for one of our monthly meet ups where you can connect with other pregnant people IRL and maybe even meet your new “birth bestie”! 

Check out the event calendar here.  



Human placenta processed for encapsulation contains modest concentrations of 14 trace minerals and elements

Sharon M Young, Laura K Gryder, Winnie B David, Yuanxin Teng, Shawn Gerstenberger, Daniel C Benyshek

Nutr Res . 2016 Aug;36(8):872-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 Apr 22.
PMID: 27440542 DOI: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.04.005 From 

Presence and concentration of 17 hormones in human placenta processed for encapsulation and consumption

Sharon M Young, Laura K Gryder, David Zava, David W Kimball, Daniel C Benyshek

Placenta . 2016 Jul;43:86-9. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2016.05.005. Epub 2016 May 10.
PMID: 27324105 DOI: 10.1016/j.placenta.2016.05.005 From 

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