“Who in their right mind would think about eating their own placenta? And is it even kosher?” I said the first time I ever heard of placentophagy, the act of consuming placenta. Actually, you could barely hear the words coming out of my mouth as I was too busy trying to stop myself from gagging at the thought of starting the day with a refreshing cup of after-birth smoothie.

And yet, this critic, like many others, became a placenta thumping believer.

I was blessed with what many would call an easy first trimester. No nausea, no vomiting, no weird aversion to smells. No real physical symptoms.

Emotionally, however, I felt like a mess.

At first I was frightened by my perpetual moodiness but when I realized that it was my hormones causing me to not feel myself, I knew I had to find an answer before I gave birth. If I was feeling hormonally shaky now, the effects of giving birth to twins would likely be an earthquake. And my husband would be the only victim.

I started to read articles about the Holy Grail of bodily secretions and learned that the placenta is widely regarded by many cultures as sacred. The placenta even makes an appearance in the Talmud (Yerushalmi) where it suggests a placenta should be buried, denoting its spiritual importance.

Yet, still I was not convinced.

Placenta pills, umbilical cord heart and instructions.

Placenta pills, umbilical cord heart and instructions.

One of the biggest arguments for eating the afterbirth by those pro-placenta is the all-mammals-eat-their-placenta-and-therefore-we-should-too theory, this rationale did not work for me as mammals eat all sorts of gross things like, well, for starters, their young.

While I did read several articles that did give evidence about the effectiveness of consuming your own placenta which I will write about soon, ultimately a large body of the proof was anecdotal.

Although, I like to think I make these kinds of medical decisions based on scientific research and proven theories, the only thing I based my next decision on was one word—desperation.

I skeptically googled kosher placenta encapsulation and found a woman named Esther Hornstien, owner of 2nd Nature Accupuncture. Not only did she dehydrate, grind and then encapsulate my placenta but she trained me to do the same. Today, Esther continues her practice in Jerusalem.

While it seems that much proof of the placenta’s effectiveness is anecdotal, maybe a woman’s own story is something worth listening to. In this case, I am one of those anecdotes and the results are enough for me.

In fact, the difference between me when I took the pills and when I didn’t take the pills were so extreme that my husband started putting the pills on my night table as a reminder to take them in the morning. I had so much energy I would clean the house, put on make-up, get dressed to the nines and be ready before my babies awoke at eight in the morning.

“Hineini”, I would say as I looked at my little buritto-swaddled munchkins. “I am here to do your bidding.”

My babies would in turn look at me and say: “Mommy! Mommy! We’re the king and queen of the house. And you are our slave.”

The Benefits of Eating Your Placenta

Usually relegated to a few lines in birth books, the birthing of the placenta is touted by many cultures as a sacred act and the placenta itself as holy. It makes sense since the placenta grows with the baby nourishing it and sustaining it until the baby is developed enough to live on its own.

The placenta is said to have many healing qualities including:

  • Increased production of breast milk
  • Preventing baby blues and post-partum depression
  • Increased energy, decrease in fatigue
  • Improved recovery to health post-partum
  • Preventing iron deficiency
  • Preventing sleep dysfunction

But Is Placenta Encapsulation Kosher?

When researching placenta encapsulation I knew there was only one potential problem. Is it even kosher according to strict Jewish Orthodox standards?

I dreaded asking my rabbi knowing he would just stare at me blankly and inwardly vow never to marry off his kids with mine.

The questions I had were many. Is human kosher? Is this ever min ha chai (taking a limb from a live animal)? Is there a problem with eating the blood? Is it considered miyus (disgusting)?

To make a long halakhik story short, strictly speaking there is no problem with encapsulating your placenta.

http://tinyurl.com/q2knmn6

Placenta Pills                                 http://tinyurl.com/q2knmn6

A human is not exactly forbidden and a placenta is not considered to be flesh or meat. It is called a pirsha (a secretion). In fact, there is even a mishna that permits eating the placenta of a slaughtered animal. Since, the placenta is considered a pirsha it does not fall under the category of ever min ha chai and there is no problem with the blood.

There do seem to be some dissenting opinions to this logic but that is only true in the case where you ingest the placenta directly (ie placenta smoothie, placenta tictures). When you encapsulate the placenta, you are not directly ingesting the placenta. This helps us halakhikally in two ways, first many poskim will be lenient to allow someone to ingest something that is not strictly kosher if it is encapsulated for medicinal purposes. And second, it is no longer considered miyus because it has changed its form.

For a better understanding of the legal terms I found an article on the web and an excellent teshuva written by Rabbi Dovid Kornreich that can be printed and given to your Rabbi. There seems to be a lot of leniency in the area and the only problem I have actually encountered is a Rabbi that doesn’t understand what placenta encapsulation entails. Please educate them by disseminating this teshuva.

In the end, I sent my husband to ask our rabbi with a note ‘Don’t come back until you find a Rabbi that says yes. Love, your wife’.

Our rabbi didn’t need all the teschuvas. He said yes immediately without needing to hear more. My guess is that he understood the old adadge: ‘happy wife, happy life.’

Encapsulating Your Placenta

After ingesting my own placenta, I fell in love with all things placenta. If you are interested in encapsulating your placenta I would be happy to point you to some do-it-yourself guides. If you are interested in having it done for you we are happy to provide that service for you. I would love to hear your comments. Please post the good, the bad, and the bloody.