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

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


Human maternal placentophagy is a rare but growing practice in several industrialized countries among postpartum mothers seeking a variety of purported health benefits attributed to the practice. These postpartum mothers typically consume their placenta as a processed, encapsulated supplement. To determine whether free (unconjugated) steroid hormones and melatonin in placenta can survive the encapsulation process (namely steaming and dehydration), we analyzed 28 placenta samples processed for encapsulation using liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to evaluate the concentration of 17 hormones. The results revealed detectable concentrations for 16 of the hormones analyzed, some in concentrations that could conceivably yield physiological effects.

Keywords: Encapsulated placenta; Placentophagia; Placentophagy; Postpartum depression; Postpartum supplement; Steroid hormones.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Melatonin / metabolism*
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Young Adult


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Melatonin
  • Hydrocortisone