TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Method
The Basics: the placenta is steamed and then dehydrated (temp varies) until fully dry then powdered
Pill Yield: 2.88 size 0 capsules per 10g of raw placenta, 130 capsules from a 450g placenta (average size)
Since the 1500’s placenta has been used in Chinese Medicine although it was not originally used for postpartum healing. There are many variations in TCM preparation for the placenta but the primary characteristic that separates it from other methods is that the placenta is steamed before being dehydrated.
Depending on the protocol, the placenta may be steamed with foods (lemon, jalapeno, red pepper, chilis) or herbs/spices (ginger, frankincense, myrrh, lemongrass, garlic, tumeric, white peony root) but these are not added to the finished pills. True TCM preparation requires the consultation of a TCM practitioner who can evaluate the mother’s unique needs and prescribe the exact preparation for her. Without a consultation, this preparation method is considered a westernized interpretation of TCM. In fact the lemon/ginger/jalapeno combination was first introduced in 1984 by an American midwife, Raven Lang.
The temperature at which the steamed, sliced placenta is dehydrated varies widely. Raven Lang taught 115F. Some training organizations teach 125F, others teach 160F.
- Steaming is more likely to kill any surface bacteria on the placenta.
- Some believe that cooking makes the iron more bioavailable. We don’t know if this applies to human iron however as most studies have been done on plant and animal sources of iron.
- The additional heating of the placenta is in alignment with TCM principles of increasing warming, yang energy to balance cold, yin energy that is more prevalent postpartum.
- The placenta loses approximately 35% of it’s mass during steaming (most of which is blood). This yields less pills.
- Even if the herbs or foods aren’t dehydrated and powdered into the final pills they may have come in contact with the placenta during the process. This could cause an allergic reaction in food sensitive women.
Raw Foods Method
The Basics: the placenta is sliced & dehydrated at 118F or below until fully dry then powdered
Pill Yield: 3.76 size 0 capsules per 10g of raw placenta, 169 capsules from a 450g placenta (average size)
This preparation is based on the Raw Foods eating methodology. Raw Foodism teaches that food is the most nutritious if it is not heated above 118F. With the lack of heat, bacteria may not be destroyed during preparation but raw foodists believe that this is beneficial as it helps populate the gut with beneficial flora. They also honor the traditions of several cultures that sun-dry their meat to preserve it instead of cooking it.
- Since the placenta is not steamed, the pill yield is quite a bit higher. You will get more pills out of the same size placenta.
- The placenta is not cooked even though it is fully desiccated. Although we don’t have reports of food borne illness from Raw Foods method prepared placenta capsules, it’s possible the risk for food borne illness is increased.
There are a variety of other ways to encapsulate the placenta. One the most popular alternatives to to prepare it according to USDA jerky standards which requires the placenta to be heated to 160F and then dehydrated at 160F the entire time. It should be noted that placenta encapsulation is a different type of preparation than jerky as the placenta is fully desiccated while jerky is left moist and pliable.