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Thursday, April 24, 2014

How To Make Homemade Placenta Pills- AKA Placental Encapsulation Tutorial

 photo IMG_1958_zps6eefbd12.jpgI was waiting to write this post for a while already, waiting till I had definitive results before I wrote a post writing all the cool stuff about placental encapsulation and taking placenta pills, but, unfortunately, I can't say 100% whether or not taking placenta pills helped me. There's a definite possibility, but I am not sure.

Let me back up.

What exactly is placental encapsulation?

Well, first off, for those that don't know, the placenta (also known as "the afterbirth") is something that develops from the blastocyst (cell mass) that develops from a fertilized sperm and egg. The blastocyst develops into both the embryo- the fetus- and the placenta- the organ that is implanted into the uterine wall that sustains the baby. All the nourishment that the baby gets passes through the placenta, and the placenta serves as a filter between what the mother has and what the baby gets. The placenta also secretes hormones necessary for the baby's development and being able to sustain the pregnancy.

In Chinese medicine as well as other alternative medicines, the placenta is ingested, typically by the mother, for medicinal purposes. This is known as placentophagy. Placentas can be ingested raw, cooked, in tinctures, and encapsulated, meaning made into pills.


The reason people ingest placentas is because placentas store a lot of nutrients in them, in addition to being full of hormones. Ingesting the placenta is said to help restore nutritional deficiencies that people get after giving birth, in addition to helping balance hormones in postpartum women.
For example, it is claimed that placentophagy helps with:

  • Preventing anemia
  • Increasing breast milk production
  • Reducing the length and amount of postpartum bleeding
  • Preventing postpartum depression and other hormone related mood swings
  • Reducing the amount of stress hormone in a postpartum mother
It is said that, if saved and taken during menopause, it also helps women with their menopausal hormonal issues.

It is said that using placentas as medicine is really beneficial to postpartum moms because every placenta is different- its like an antenatal pill designed specifically for the mom herself, containing the exact hormones and nutrition that the mom needs, and it can't be replicated.

I'll be honest.
I don't know if I believe these claims. I was skeptical about them, especially since I spoke to my midwife who I agree with on most things... and she said she doesn't see any benefit whatsoever in placental encapsulation, and was even trying to dissuade me, because, as she said "Why bother, it probably won't help." 
At the same time, some friends of mine that are very knowledgeable about health and alternative remedies swear by placentophagy. One friend, in particular, is the furthest thing from "kook", is a very rational minded person, and doesn't do things just because "it is in style", said that she did placental encapsulation and it really made a big difference for her, that on days that she took the pills she felt much better, etc... and she highly recommends it.
Even so, it could just be the placebo effect, but you know what?
I said that it can't hurt to try.

I'm skeptical enough that I wouldn't be willing to pay someone to encapsulate my placenta, as many people today are doing. However, doing it myself I was willing to experiment. If it works, great. If not- no harm done.

There are three specific issues I am taking placenta pills for- anemia prevention, helping reduce postpartum bleeding, and preventing postpartum depression. Anemia is an issue I generally have, and in the past I've had issues with postpartum bleeding, and this time around, my plate is very full and I was worried that I'd be too stressed out from having a baby on top of everything else on my plate and I thought that would make me a likely candidate for postpartum depression, which I can't afford right now... 
Is it helping? Well, I have to go get another blood test to check my iron levels. (I checked mine last 2 days before giving birth.)
It definitely seems to be helping with minimizing postpartum bleeding.
And as for preventing postpartum depression- I haven't had any issues with that. I've honestly been on an emotional "high" since my awesome homebirth and haven't really come down from that- I still feel great emotionally a month later, despite having a lot on my plate. So I didn't really need the pills for that. Or maybe the pills are helping the high continue? Who knows.
Either way, it cost me nothing, other than time. So why not.
(I have to admit, part of the thought that crossed my mind when I considered doing placental encapsulation was that it was something I could blog about after! Ha.)

I'll explain the step by step process as to how I encapsulated my placenta. There is more than one way to do it- I did mine via dehydration, to preserve the nutrients as much as possible and to make it as easy as possible for me.
I am warning you now that many people will find these pics gross, as well as the whole idea. Someone asked me how I didn't puke when I did this, but I work with "animal parts" in the kitchen so often that this didn't seem much different to me than dealing with chicken liver, cow lungs, chicken hearts, etc... It's a hunk of meat, that's all. And anyhow, as long as I'm not pregnant, I have a stomach of steel. If it grosses you out... well, that's why many people pay others to encapsulate it for them.

The entire cost of this project, pretty much, was less than 10 dollars, for a package of 750 empty gel capsules from iherb. I used size 00, and have about 3/4 left of the bag to use to make other medicinal capsules. So in essence, $2.50 to encapsulate my placenta.

1. To start off with, take your placenta, and rinse it off. Don't scrub it, just rinse it. Its fine if blood remains in it. The blood is part of what is beneficial.

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2. Cut off the umbilical cord. You can dry it if you want, in a pretty shape to keep as a keepsake. Or toss it. Or whatever.

3. Slice up the placenta into thin strips, as thin as possible. I tried at first with a sharp knife, but I found it actually was easiest with a pair of kitchen shears.

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4. Lay out your strips of placenta on a lined baking tray in your oven. Alternatively, you can use a dehydrator, but since it drips, I didn't want to use my dehydrator for this.

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5. Put oven on the lowest heat, with the door propped open, until it is fully dry. This should take between 12 and 24 hours. Flip the pieces in the middle to ensure that the bottom side dries as well. It is fully ready when you're able to break the pieces of placenta in half.

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6. Grind up the placenta until you get the pieces as fine as you can. I used a coffee grinder. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle but that'll be a lot more work.

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7. Now you want to fill your capsules. This is the package of capsules that I bought.

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8. To encapsulate them, open a capsule, stick one half of the capsule into a container of pulverized placenta, fill it up, and then cap it. It'll take time and will be somewhat boring. I did this, sitting down, while watching a movie. I don't remember how long it took, but I didn't mind since I was entertained.

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9. I made about 170 capsules, if I remember correctly. They should be stored in the fridge.

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10. Take 1-3 pills, 1-2 times a day. (If your pills are very full, take less. If your pills aren't so stuffed- mine have empty space in them- take more.) See how you feel after taking 2- if you don't feel any effect, take a third. If you feel any negative effects, like headaches, take less.

Enjoy!

Hope you found this post informative, and not too gross or kooky.

Have you ever heard of or done placental encapsulation before? If you were debating doing it before, have you changed your mind in either direction?

Linking up to Real Food WednesdaysWFMW, Natural Living Monday, Mostly Homemade Monday

9 comments:

  1. I didn't realize how easy this was to do. I've consumed my placenta after each of my 3 homebirths before it was even trendy :) I drink it in a smoothie. My midwife cuts it up into pieces that we freeze. I add a piece to a smoothie, preferably one with berries in it to mask the color. I see the benefit in encapsulation for longer storage and more doses. I only get about 25 doses from mine. I use it daily at first and less often as time goes on. Baby is 5 weeks old, and I have about 5 doses left. I think it does help with all the issues mentioned. I had PPD after my first baby and have not had it since. I don't know if it is from the placenta or from having better births. Even if the effects are placebo, I don't care. It helps :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience! If you have another kid, do you think you'd do it your method, or encapsulating it?

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  2. I didn't consume my placenta with either of my children, but I really wish that I had, especially with my first child. I suffered a postpartum hemorrhage with my first birth and was very anemic for a few weeks. Also experienced PPD, not as bad as some mothers, but it surprised me that I experienced it to the extent that I did. If there would even have been a chance that it would have helped with those issues, I would gladly have consumed it in pretty much any way whatsoever. i hope that yours will bring you many benefit!

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    1. Thank you! Pass on the info to others, so that they can have the benefit of the knowledge. I heard that if someone is having a postpartum hemorrhage, they are told to bite directly into the raw placenta, and that can stop the hemorrhage...

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  3. I was skeptical too as I didn't have any PPD after two babies I had it encapsulated with. I wondered if it was really working or just placebo effect. Then about six months after my last baby, I became very depressed due to many factors. Part of it may have been PPD (can happen up to a year after birth), but was mostly related to an extremely difficult foster situation. I took a few of the left over capsules I had frozen and Wow! Within a couple hours I had a dramatic change in my mood and was able to look at things more objectively. I'm a believe now:) I'm glad I have my extras frozen for dealing with that type of situation. You can also freeze them or make a tincture for menopause.

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    1. That's really cool to know how well it worked for you!

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  4. Hi
    First I would like to say how much I enjoy reading your blog. The question I have is when looking at the dried placenta it looks burnt (perhaps it just the picture) and I was wondering if it is heated for such a long time at a low temperature would this not kill any nutritional value it has? Also, thanks so much for the write up on your home births. I am passed my child bearing years and I do not know anyone who ever had a home birth so I loved reading and learning all about it and your experience.

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    1. If it's at a low temperature, it can't burn, just dry out more and more. Mine never got hot enough to burn. It just is dark because of the dried blood inside. Its definitely not burnt. But some even cook the placenta before dehydrating it- so apparently it still has benefits even if cooked first. But long dehydration times doesnt affect what is inside.

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    2. Thanks so much for the clarification, it is greatly appreciated!!

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