The writer of one article, Amy Chang, explains how she tried adding placenta to her skincare routine. Here is what happened:
“During my trip in Tokyo last spring, I noticed the word “placenta” everywhere: affixed to 1-ounce shot tonic bottles in mini-marts, as well as to high-end department store lotions and creams, and pervasive throughout the supplement section in drugstores. The ingredient would probably be shocking to some. However, as a beauty blogger that tried a lot in the name of vanity and wellness junkie from Los Angeles, where eating the own placenta of someone is a topic that many pregnant mothers casually discuss over adaptogen lattes and vegan eats, I found the notion of the placenta as a beauty ingredient more intriguing offensive.”
She continues explaining:
“Alisa Kerr, an Australian expat who lives in Tokyo and founder of the blog Tokyo Beauty Book, explained to me: ’Placenta is really big here right now. It is the anti-aging ingredient of the moment.’ We meet up in order to discuss her favorite beauty shopping spots in Tokyo. But, the conversation kept turning back to the placenta. She continued explaining: ‘Collagen was big years ago, and collagen drinks have also been around just, for a while, but placenta drinks are what it new. You can purchase the drinks at drugstores in little glass bottles, and people consume them every day. And there are even more skin care brands that come out with placenta as an ingredient in them every single day.”
– The history of eating a placenta
Applying placenta topically may be something new for you, but ingesting it is not. Placentophagy, which is eating one’s placenta, is also a common occurrence in the animal kingdom. This is because most mammals ingest their placenta after they give birth. This has been a practice in traditional Chinese medicine since the 1500s, in order to cure ailments such as anemia, exhaustion, as well as pain relief and prevent miscarriages and help sexual dysfunction.
Placentophagy postpartum has recently become trendy among celebrities, as well as women in wellness communities. But, the practice is hotly contested. Just a few scientific studies have been conducted for confirming the purported postpartum benefits – re-establishing a hormonal balance, as well as staving off postpartum depression, and helping to bring in breast milk. Most of the supporters rely on anecdotal evidence for backing the practice. This is because it is difficult to find new moms to participate in clinical trials, as they are dealing with crying babies, as well a lack of sleep, breastfeeding and all.
– Placenta for beauty is backed by science
However, things are a little bit distinctive when it comes to using placenta for beauty purposes. There are numerous scientific studies which provide evidence of the skin enhancing benefits of ingesting placenta and applying it topically.
One Korean study was published in the Korean Journal for Food Science of Animal Resources in 2015. It found that pig placenta extract, when taken orally, can reduce trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), and UV wrinkle formation. Furthermore, it can significantly prevent collagen degradation. There was another Korean study which was published in the Journal of Tissue Engineering in 2013. It reported human placenta growth factors, greatly improved the speed of wound healing in rats when applied topically. And lastly, one Japanese study also published in the Gynecology & Obstetrics Journal in 2013, showed that pig placenta stimulated the increase of collagen in human fibroblast cells.
The United States may be slow to adopt placenta as a skin care ingredient. But, it is exciting to see that the medical community has embraced these findings. Dr. Alap Shah, who is a physician at the St. Francis Wound Care Center in Atlanta, Georgia, has been using donated human placentas. They were collected and sterilized by the med-tech company MiMedz, topically to speed wound healing, as well as reduce inflammation. Furthermore, to prevent scar formation in patients that suffer from diabetes with foot ulcers, infections, and other injuries, staving off the need for amputation.
– Yes, there are some ethical questions too.
Currently, ovine (sheep) and porcine (pig) placentas are the most commonly used for placenta products in Asia. The harvesting and sterilization methods are still not publicized, and it is tough to know if the practices are humane. But, like everything in life which involves animals, such as wearing leather, eating meat, or choosing vegan beauty products or not, it is a choice that everyone has to determine for themselves.
– Here is what happened when Amy tried placenta beauty products
“I personally let curiosity get the best of me and dove headfirst into all things placenta while I was on my trip. I have discovered quickly a preference for the placenta tinctures which I took daily while I was in Japan. By the end of the first week, my skin was glowing. The month supply of placenta supplement capsules I brought home also produced noticeable results. My hair also thickened. My skin was visibly smoothed and brightened. And, I could not help but regret not filling up a second suitcase with placenta supplements.”