An increasingly popular “superfood” that promises to protect against postpartum depression, it seems like people just can’t get enough of placenta lately.
But a new study has found that not only does eating the placenta (or “placentophagy”) offer no proven, science-backed health benefits, it could also be dangerous. (Post continues after gallery.)
Published in Archives of Women’s Mental Health, the Northwestern Medicine reviewed 10 current published research studies on placentophagy and found no human or animal data to support any of the purported health benefits.
These included no supporting evidence to the claims of boosting energy, help with lactation, promoting skin elasticity, replenishing iron in the body, enhancing maternal bonding or protecting against postpartum depression or post-delivery pain.
Worryingly, researchers found no studies that examined the risk of eating the placenta.
“Bacteria and elements such as mercury and lead have been identified in the post-term placenta,” corresponding study author Dr. Crystal Clark told CBS News.
“So if the theory is that we retain nutrients and hormones such as oestrogen and iron that could be beneficial, then the question becomes what harmful substances can also be retained that could harm the mother or the baby if she is breastfeeding,” she said.