Placenta consumption: prescription or placebo?
When Tsawwassen's Katie Minder talks to people about eating human placenta the reaction varies from interest to horror.
"A lot of guys are a bit grossed out about it," she confesses cheerily.
But "guys" aren't exactly her target market. Minder is a certified placenta encapsulation specialist, taking the organ that slides out during birth and giving it back to the mother in the form of a pill to eat.
Minder says that it was after her own experiences with postpartum depression that she discovered the wonderful benefits of placenta encapsulation.
"Eighty per cent of the moms I give this to take it because they're worried about postpartum depression or the baby blues," she says.
The placenta is an organ that connects the fetus to the uterine wall to allow for the absorption of nutrients, waste elimination, and gas exchange via the mother's blood supply.
Minder says that when a baby is born that amazing organ is suddenly severed from the benefits it provides both mother and child.
Placenta pills are said to provide hormone stability, energy, increased milk supply, and lowered risk of postpartum depression and bleeding. It should also be noted that women only consume their own placenta.
The procedure of taking the raw placenta and converting it into pill form, however, isn't for the faint of heart. When it first leaves the body, the placenta is a purple blob resembling a pancake, with ventricles and veins running all over it.
Minder goes to the hospital to pick it up and brings it to her house where she begins her work.
She takes the sac, cuts the umbilical cord off, and then drains it of all blood and mucous, which takes about half an hour.
Then, according to traditional Chinese medicine, the placenta needs to be warmed, so she steams it for seven minutes on each side, adding lemon and cayenne pepper.
"It's not cooked, it's just the whole thing is warmed," she says, answering the question before it is asked.
After that, she slices up the placenta and puts it in a dehydrator to convert to powder form. One placenta will yield between 100 and 180 capsules.
If this sounds a little like a recipe for self-cannibalism, Minder has a different point of view.
"Nothing's died in the process," she says. "It's like breast milk. For women who've wrapped their head around it, it's not an issue. For those who haven't, once they see the benefits, they come around."
Being a certified placenta encapsulation specialist isn't just a title Minder gave herself. She had to read six research papers on the practise, provide three encapsulations, and get evaluated by mothers. Because the end product is edible, she's also certified by BC Foodsafe and took a course in blood-borne pathogens.
Minder has the entire process down to a science. She only works on one placenta at a time, and charges $230 for the service. But she insists she's not in it for the money.
"For me, the gratifying thing is I can support another woman," she says.
Minder says that even if women don't want to use the capsules right away, they can store them in a freezer for use during menopause to act as a hormonal stabilizing agent.
For more information visit www.fromtummytomummy.com.