hormones, placebo, placenta, pill, post-partum

DON'T TAKE PLACENTA PILLS

Any purported benefits can be chalked up to placebo effect.

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In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.


THE SCIENCE
According to research out of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, taking placenta pills made no significant difference in women’s hormone levels, which contradicts proponents’ beliefs that they positively change estrogen levels. Another paper published in the same issue also concluded that consuming them conferred no overall effect on mood, bonding with the baby, or fatigue levels.

EXPERT INSIGHT

Former surveys that demonstrated the positive benefits of ingesting placenta were flawed, says Mark Kristal, Ph.D., behavioral neuroscientist at the University at Buffalo who studies placentophagy (ingesting the placenta). “They included only women who expected a positive effect, without a placebo control,” he says, explaining that their results were a “clear indication of a placebo effect.” However, Kristal believes the new research is accurate since it was “a well-controlled, well-designed objective study.”

THE BOTTOM LINE
“I certainly wouldn't recommend for new mothers to eat placenta or take the pills until medicinal content and dosage can be determined scientifically,” says Kristal. In the meantime, regular exercise (especially forms that you enjoy) can help boost your mood. And getting outside early in the morning can also help you feel calmer and happier. But if you’re suffering from extreme fatigue or suspect postpartum depression, Kristal advises speaking with a doctor.