I was always under the impression that most animals devour the placenta in an attempt to eliminate all traces of the birth to avoid attracting predators to their helpless young. If you raise dogs or cats, the moms will attempt to eat all the placentas, however, if you let them do that (i.e., a German Shepherd with 12 pups) - they will get quite ill. Basically what I'm trying to say is that it's instinctive in animals - I also always assumed that cognitive human beings have the ability to think beyond primal instincts. Apparently not. Doesn't eating anything 'generated' by another human being go against normal human instincts? We have mouse colonies that will cannibalize each other's tumors in vivo if the tumors get too big. That also is instinct. My instincts are telling me that it's Friday, and I should go home!!!
Jacqueline M. O'Connor HT(ASCP)
Global Pharmaceutical Research and Development
Eating the placenta may be a way of "getting in touch with one's inner cave
woman." Most mammals eat the placenta. Eating the placenta may also be an
attempt to speed up milk production. I have heard a farmer say that
allowing a cow to eat the placenta supplies her with enough additional
placental lactogen to increase milk production during the first two days.
Since humans digest proteins efficiently, this may not work for humans.
Allen A. Smith, Ph.D.
School of Graduate Medical Sciences
Podiatric Medicine and Surgery
Miami Shores, Florida 33161-6695
From: Bell, Lynne [mailto:Lynne.Bell@hitchcock.org]
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2003 2:28 PM
Subject: RE: Releasing unfixed specimens
Most of the unfixed placentas that we release here are being planted with a
tree to celebrate the birth of the child. We also have had some requests
for placentas for eating (ick!). Apparently they are being fried with
onions and is supposed to taste like liver (at least it doesn't taste like
Lynne Bell, HT (ASCP)
Central Vermont Hospital
Barre, VT 05641