Human placentophagy: Effects of dehydration and steaming on hormones, metals and bacteria in placental tissue

Placenta. 2018 Jul:67:8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2018.05.006. Epub 2018 May 16.


Introduction: Human maternal placentophagy, the behavior of ingesting the own raw or processed placenta postpartum, is a growing trend by women of western societies. This study aims to identify the impact of dehydration and steaming on hormone and trace element concentration as well as microbial contamination of placental tissue.

Methods: A total of nine placentas have been processed: six were studied for hormone and trace element concentrations; eight were studied for microbial contamination. The concentrations of CRH, hPL, oxytocin and ACTH in samples of raw, steamed dehydrated and raw dehydrated placental tissue were detected using ELISA. A yeast bioassay was performed in order to detect estrogen equivalent (EEQ) and gestagen equivalent (PEQ) active substances. Elements (As, Cd, Fe, Pb, Se, Hg) were analyzed using ICP-MS. Isolated colonies from tissue and placenta swab samples were identified using Vitek MS.

Results: Following mean hormone concentrations were detected in raw placental tissue: CRH (177.88 ng/g), hPL (17.99 mg/g), oxytocin (85.10 pg/g), ACTH (2.07 ng/g), estrogen equivalent active substances (46.95 ng/g) and gestagen equivalent active substances (2.12 μg/g). All hormones were sensitive to processing with a significant concentration reduction through steaming and dehydration. Microorganisms mainly from the vaginal flora were detected on placenta swab samples and samples from raw, steamed, dehydrated and steamed dehydrated tissue and mostly disappeared after dehydration. According to regulations of the European Union the concentrations of potentially toxic elements (As, Cd, Hg, Pb) were below the toxicity threshold for foodstuffs.

Conclusion: The commonly used protocols for preparation of placenta for its individual oral ingestion reduce hormone concentrations and bacterial contamination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Cooking* / methods
  • Desiccation*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Metals / analysis*
  • Oxytocin / analysis
  • Placenta* / chemistry
  • Placenta* / metabolism
  • Placenta* / microbiology
  • Placental Hormones / analysis*
  • Postpartum Period
  • Pregnancy
  • Steam
  • Trace Elements / analysis
  • Young Adult


  • Metals
  • Placental Hormones
  • Steam
  • Trace Elements
  • Oxytocin