For several years, the consumption of human placenta (raw, cooked, shakes or capsules) has become a debate and business in different countries. People who defend this practice – if it has a specific term – pharinism – claim to help prevent depression after childbirth, increase energy levels and stimulate breastmilk production. They also emphasize that this is very common among mammalian species. Figures from the entertainment world, from Tom Cruise to Kim Kardashian, recognized the admission of this ephemeral organ. There are even recipe books. Its consumption is also popularized in some circles of alternative medicine.
On November 27, Canada joined the list of countries that warned about the risks of its consumption: "Eating the placenta or eating it in capsules is a personal decision, but the mother needs to understand that there are potential risks for her and the baby just as there is no scientific evidence that its consumption has benefits, "says the Ministry of Health. They also warn that practice may include health risks. "The most serious of these are bacteria in nature (for example, group B streptococci) or viral plaques (hepatitis, HIV, among others)," the document says. Thus, Canadian authorities coincide with those of other countries and researchers from different academic institutions.
Canada does not allow any health products that contain human placenta. With a quick search on the Internet, you can find a few Canadian forums recommending the use of this body as well as different pages (in cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal) that offer support for placental capsule processing. The average cost of bringing the organ and transforming it is 250 Canadian dollars (about 165 euros). "Many minerals and hormones that the placenta contains help fight the symptoms of postnatal depression," one of these websites says, although it does not provide scientific evidence to prove it.
Neumie Vannewavevine, a spokeswoman for the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services, said in front of this newspaper that fathers and mothers may ask the placenta to be delivered to hospitals but must commit to writing a number of measures to reduce health risks, , wear waterproof gloves and make sure the organ does not come into contact with people who do not use protection or animals. Plates can not be sold or assigned to third parties. "In Quebec, these claims are insignificant, and if plague is not plagued as the rest of the anatomical waste," Vanhewovewine said. For her part, Johan Cott, Executive Director of the Midwife's Order in Quebec, says her institution still has no official position on the subject. The Ontario Public Health Association, for its part, has demanded a greater spread of infection risks among the medical staff and residents of that province.
The testimonies expressed in various media about the alleged properties of placenta are numerous. However, the scientific community is more prone to the placebo effect because the results are not tested with methodological rigor and because they lead to health risks. The American Medical Association does not recommend this practice, referring to a study of the disease control and prevention centers of this country with regard to bacterial contamination. The British Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said its benefits are not known. In Australia, the medical department of the Ministry of Health published in January this year a warning about the possible risks of human placenta consumption.
Other investigations by well-known institutions point in the same direction. For example, experts from the University of Austria concluded that eating a capsule is not a useful hormone or nutritional substance containing the placenta. In turn, a study by researchers at the University of Nevada concluded that there were no significant differences between a group of women taking human placenta pills and others taking dehydrated beef capsules. Now the Canadian authorities join these voices in terms of a practice that has not exceeded its anecdotal nature.