Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
25 Feb

Dear Mark: Fruit Wax, Placentophagy, and Second Hand Smoke

shinyappleFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’ll be covering several topics. First, I cover fruit wax, that lovely layer of ultra-thin sheen applied to many fruits and vegetables in the grocery store. Is it harmful or innocuous? Find out below. Next up is one that makes most people extremely squeamish: placentophagy, or the consumption of the placenta by the mother following birth. Does it do anything? Should people do it? What’s the deal with it? Finally, I field a question from a guy who hangs out in a bar for a few hours a week with his friends. All good, right? Unfortunately, this particular bar allows smoking, so he’s wondering whether or not he’s doing any real damage to himself from exposure to second hand smoke.

Let’s go:

How about an article on the effects of wax that is put on apples and other fruits and vegetables at supermarkets?

Cheers,

Journey

The idea of wax on your food sounds a little unsettling, but I don’t think it necessarily poses a health risk. Let’s look at the various sources used:

Carnauba wax, drawn from the carnauba tree, seems quite safe. Toxicology studies on rats and dogs found it to be non-toxic, even to developing fetuses.

According to European officials (who, compared to the FDA, tend to be less lax when it comes to approving food additives), candelilla wax is also non-toxic.

Shellac wax comes from a kind of beetle, and officials are still trying to determine its safety. It’s probably not a big issue, though.

Though it’s more expensive, food producers sometimes use beeswax. Beeswax is safe (as anyone who’s ever chewed on honeycomb could tell you).

Besides, they’re just replacing the natural wax that gets removed during processing. From what I can tell, all fruits produce a thin layer of wax as a protective barrier between them and their environment, mostly to repel water and prevent moisture from escaping the fruit. In fact, the major component of natural apple wax is ursolic acid, a powerful water repellant (PDF). If you’ve ever plucked an apple from a tree, rubbed it, and gotten white powder on your hands, that’s the natural wax rubbing off. Our attempts to replicate, replace, or modify natural components of foods often get us into trouble, but I don’t think fruit wax is one of these instances. Just peel the fruit, if you’re worried, and be on your way.

One caveat: some conventionally-grown fruits may have a petroleum-based wax. I would avoid those if I were you, so be sure to ask the head of the produce department what kind of wax was used on the fruit you’re considering. They should have that information.

One more caveat: conventional fruit that travels a great distance – like, say, from Chile to California – may be treated with a fungicide in addition to a wax to prevent contamination. If that’s the case, you’ll probably want to peel your fruit, or give it a light wash with a vinegar-hydrogen peroxide-water solution. Or, just, ya know, buy local when possible. Produce at farmers’ markets generally doesn’t have wax on it.

trans

Love the few topics recently on babies (co-sleeping etc).

I am wondering what your thoughts are on Placenta Encapsulation? Do you think our primal ancestors ate their placentas? How beneficial could this be to new mothers?

Tara

Most mammals eat their placenta after giving birth. Primates (both high and low), carnivores, rodents. Not just the carnivores, either. Herbivorous cows will readily eat the placenta, perhaps the only time in a cow’s life that she ever feels the need to eat animal flesh. Only marine mammals and certain semi-aquatic mammals do not for obvious logistical reasons. Marsupials don’t do it (the placenta is resorbed upon birth), but they do avail themselves of the birth fluids.

Opponents of placentophagy dismiss the relevance of other animals consuming their placentas with claims that they only do it to “hide the smell” from predators. Even if that were the primary motivation (and I doubt it is, seeing as how firstly, top predators with no hope of being prey themselves also practice it and secondly, all the other birth fluids that aren’t eaten are just as likely to attract attention), just because a trait appears to be selected for its benefit to immediate, direct survival doesn’t preclude it from offering other benefits. Monkeys aren’t drawn to sweet fruits because of a conscious desire for vitamin C and flavonoids. They just like the sugar. Evolution can be tricky and devious, and I strongly suspect there are other, deeper reasons for the ubiquity of placentophagy.

There’s actually not a ton of research. In 1980, a review of the literature (PDF) contains some interesting stuff:

  • Otherwise herbivorous mammals aren’t driven to placentophagy because of the sudden proximity of free (organ) meat; you can present other types of meat to mammals immediate after delivery and they’ll still prefer the placenta.
  • Very little evidence of placentophagy exists in the anthropological literature. In fact, many cultures explicitly forbade placentophagy. One exception is China, where placentophagy has been used in traditional medicine for over 2,000 years.
  • Among virgin rats given the opportunity to eat a placenta, placentophagy is extremely rare. They’re just not that into it. After their first delivery of a pup, however, they become “enthusiastic placenta-eaters.”
  • A 1954 human study found that 86% of new mothers given placenta experienced a boost in milk production and flow, while just 33% of the mothers given an identical preparation of beef experienced improved lactation.
  • Placenta-deprived rats showed no difference in postpartum estrus when compared to rats who were allowed to eat the placenta.
  • In rare cases, mothers experience an immunological rejection of the fetus, which can have obviously negative effects on its viability. Placenta eating may improve the mother’s immune response to the presence of a fetus in later pregnancies by preventing the formation of fetal tissue antibodies. Totally hypothetical, but interesting.

So no, concrete benefits have yet to be established. That doesn’t mean it’s totally baseless as a practice, though. Placenta is apparently rich in iron, and iron deficiency is a possible cause of postpartum depression – maybe it’s a reliable way for mammals to obtain iron in an iron-deprived state? It may also affect pain suppression following birth by way of endogenous opioid receptors.

There are reports of negative reactions to encapsulated placenta, but that may be due to the presence of other additives. This woman, for example, who regrets eating her placenta and had numerous negative reactions, had it encapsulated with unknown “cleansing herbs.” As we know from last week’s post, herbs can have powerful effects on our physiologies – and they’re not always beneficial. It might be worth it to keep the placenta pure and free of additives, no matter how innocuous and helpful they sound. Actual placenta seems fairly safe, even if it isn’t doing anything beneficial.

I’m intrigued by the idea of placentophagy, but I’m not convinced it’s vital. Humans don’t appear to have a biological imperative to practice it. At least, not like other mammals do. That said, many women swear by it as a way to stave of depression and provide energy. It’s harmless, so I can’t see a reason not to do it if you’re interested.

Dear Mark,

I am not a smoker, but most of my friends are and we typically hang out at a bar that is still not smoke free about once a week for a few hours. I’ve tried to do a little research on the amounts and time exposure to second hand smoke and amount of damage, but can’t find much quantitative stats. Was hoping you might have a little more insight into how much and the potential harmful effects would be?

Thanks for all the work you and your team do with the website. It is very beneficial.

Nathan

Well, one study found that service staff working in places that were not smoke free gradually accumulated levels of NNK, a tobacco carcinogen, at a rate of 6% every hour. That’s worrisome, seeing as how NNK (or Nitrosamine 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone) is what researchers typically use to reliably induce lung cancer in lab rats, and it promotes cancer in human in vitro studies (you can’t exactly run an RCT where you give actual humans a known carcinogen). Another study found that just 20 minutes of second hand smoke exposure was enough to negatively affect breathing function in humans. You could probably argue about the relevancy of their setup to your situation (were they emulating smoking in a car or a bar?), but 20 minutes is worrisome.

Second hand smoke is demonstrably bad for you, regardless of what industry-funded studies say, but hanging out with friends is demonstrably good for you. What to do?

Pick a new spot. I’m sure there are smoke-free bars around. If there aren’t, suggest a new genre of venue entirely to your friends.

Support your detoxification ability. One study found that pycnogenol, a naturally-occurring bioflavonoid, enhanced the body’s metabolism of NNK and reduced its carcinogenic effects on the lungs (though not on the liver). Pop a few before going out to the bars, if you insist on it. Pycnogenol has also been used in cigarette filters to scavenge free radicals, reduce mutagenicity, and detoxify smoke as it flows through the cigarette itself (better than nothing, I suppose). A beta-carotene/vitamin E/vitamin C cocktail may also mitigate the damage done by NNK and second hand smoke.

In short, avoid the second hand smoke if you can, but if you can’t (and even if you can), at least maintain a consistent intake of polyphenol and antioxidant-rich vegetation. In your case, I think the benefit of hanging out with friends probably outweighs the risk of a few hours of second hand smoke exposure. It’s not that second hand smoke is safe; it clearly is not. It’s that socializing is essential.

That’s it for today’s post, guys. Leave a comment and thanks for reading!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Regarding placentophagy and to quote Meatloaf:

    “I would do anything for love (health). Anything you’ve been dreaming of…

    But I won’t do that”.

    Susie wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • The only offal I have not eaten.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • So you won’t be adding “eat a crap ton of placentae” to your monthly list of goals I gather…

      bjjcaveman wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • Bahaha – uh no.

        Susie wrote on February 26th, 2013
    • There’s a big ick-factor there. IF the main benefit is iron, I will go for liver, fried with onion, bacon and garlic. Add a dark beer to help bring the milk in.

      Beccolina wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • Yup. The body throws off what it doesn’t need in the form of waste: sweat, urine, feces, etc. Most of us wouldn’t even think of “recycling” these by-products by running them through a second time. The placenta, after having served its purpose, is eliminated as waste. Therefore it falls into exactly the same category.

        Shary wrote on February 26th, 2013
        • I don’t think the placenta qualifies as waste. The baby isn’t swathed in waste in the womb. The placenta likely contains many hormones, and I’ve heard from mothers who have tried it that it really helps with after pains and hormone balancing. Perhaps “organ meat” would be a more appropriate category. It is an organ after all.

          Kathy wrote on February 26th, 2013
        • Hair is also detox pathway

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 27th, 2013
        • I forgot to add that some people do drink their own urine. UFC fighter Lyoto Machida for example.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 27th, 2013
        • One of my pet cats once puked up some partially digested rodent and pieces of cat food. Waste right?
          A stray cat came by and ate some of the puke.

          Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
    • Once it’s in pill form, you just throw it in with the rest of your supplements and forget about it. It’s not like you’re sitting there with a plate full of placenta. I changed my point of view when I watched the encapsulation process…pretty cool stuff.

      Steven wrote on February 27th, 2013
  2. Good info on wax and second hand smoke. (Did not read the part about placentas.) Grok and Grokina would have endured the smoke-filled cave or hut in order to socialize.

    Harry Mossman wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • I would prefer saving the placenta by cryogenically freezing it. If your child gets ill down the line, they may be able to use it generate stem cells for stem cell therapy (a promising area of medical research). Not very primal, but definitely something to bank…I would expect though that their are fundamental benefits from eating a placenta…good job I won’t ever be a mother!

      David Turner wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • Nicotine has been known to cause stem cells to be released from bone marrow and cause new blood vessel formation (which could be helpful or harmful).

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  3. I’m thinking that exposure to tobacco smoke for a few hours once a week is likely safer than near constant exposure to wood smoke, something which most of our ancestors would have dealt with, if not year round then most assuredly during the winter months.
    I’ve stayed in small poorly vented living structures (wikiups, tepees, pithouses) with internal fires, a slightly smoky bar is no comparison.

    Bryan wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Studies (done years ago) on people living in the tropics in long houses where the women did the cooking indoors over wood fires showed that the women had higher levels of lung cancer than the men. Both men and women also smoked tobacco, but the men spent most of their time outdoors.

      D. M. Mitchell wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • I went camping for four weeks at the start of a rehab program after smoking weed and some tobacco for a few years. We had cooking fires twice a day normally and huddled near them for warmth. I think in that four weeks I inhaled more smoke from the fires than from all my previous time smoking. I’d blow my nose and a bunch of black gunk would come out, over and over.
        Yesterday morning someone asked me if I’d done any drugs. I said yes, I smoked some weed. He sort of scoffed, and lit a cigarette. Heh.

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  4. It would be great to hear back from Nathan, or anyone else, who decides to use some antioxidants to try to battle exposure to second-hand smoke. I stay far away as often as possible, but this could be great for those of us who choose to or get stuck in a smoke filled room!

    Brent wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • I second that. It would be nice to see some results.

      Max Ungar wrote on February 25th, 2013
  5. Regarding the study about milk production after having either beef or placenta – I don’t think there’s any possible way of knowing if the placenta OR beef had any impact on the milk production (or anything else for that matter) because we have no way to know how that mother would have produced without the placenta or beef consumption. Being that women varry a lot in their lactation experiences, there is no baseline to just say “Yes, all women who give birth will produce X amount of milk after giving birth and this mother produced X+Y-amount of milk after having eaten the placenta or beef.”

    Sarah A. wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • “A 1954 human study found that 86% of new mothers given placenta experienced a boost in milk production and flow, while just 33% of the mothers given an identical preparation of beef experienced improved lactation.”

      Sounds like the researchers do think that there is a baseline you can compare with.

      Even if there were no baseline, you would still have to explain the difference between placenta and beef. Either the placenta increases lactation or the beef suppresses it.

      Victor Venema wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • The production of breast milk is so much psychologic that I think it must be very difficult to measure the effects of eating placenta or not. Stress has a much bigger effect and sleep too – at least that is my own experience. :-) So I would also be curious to know how they can do this study….

        Lisa wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • No, they don’t have a baseline, assumptions are being made in this supposed study. Ask many mothers who breastfed and you’ll find that there is no set standard for how often or how much a baby will feed – and some mothers will not naturally produce enough milk for the demand of the child; others will have so much extra milk at times that they need to pump to get rid the the excess or else they will just leak it once being so full. Naturally production should keep up with the baby’s needs (in theory) – I myself had to take milk thistle for about half of my time breastfeeding becuase I actually wasn’t naturally keeping up with how much my daughter was demanding – but that’s not always the case.

        Sarah A. wrote on February 25th, 2013
        • Did you read the paper?

          Mike wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • The wording (“a boost in production”) leads me to believe they measured a woman’s production before and after consuming either placenta or liver. I would assume they had the women pump and measured output, but measuring can also (though less reliably) be done by weighing the baby before and after feeding. Galactagogues such as fenugreek and B vitamins most certainly increase production in many women, and I know women who have had a measurable increase in supply using galactogogenic herbs and foods.

      Karen C. wrote on February 28th, 2013
  6. Horses as well, do not eat their placentas…as a general rule..the ODD -as in 1in 600-might do some foraging on it, will br due to a major lack of secific nutrient.

    Heather wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Though for those who don’t know, baby horses will eat their mother’s crap. The first time I saw that as a kid was quite a funny surprise.

      Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  7. My Dad lost his bladder and eventually died of cancer because he smoked. My advice: avoid any place where there is smoking. I deliver meals on wheels to people in their 50s and 60s who have to have oxygen and look like they are on death’s door and they still smoke. You are sabotaging all your efforts to be healthy and live a long high quality life by exposing yourself to tobacco smoke. I do think it would be interesting to find out if anyone has researched the effects of wood burning smoke on humans.

    Carolyn wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Also, my aunt died of lung cancer from smoking. I think she was in her 50s. My grandfather died from lung problems due to smoking in his 80s. Needless to say, I would have to be an idiot to smoke or be in a place where there is smoking.

      Carolyn wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • My mother at the age of about 55 found out the her lungs are slowly dieing ( cronic lung disease). She has NEVER smoked in her life. BUT father and two bothers did. They lived in a small two room house for many year while she grew up. Think there might be a link?

        ponymama wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • All the elder members of my family died of smoking, after a lifetime of multi-packs per day.

      The idea that a few hours a week in a smokey bar is going to seriously hurt my health is asinine. Yes, it makes my clothes smell bad. But there zero evidence that non-chronic exposure to secondhand smoke is at all damaging in the long term.

      It’s not GOOD for you, but neither’s the beer I drink there, or the occasional cigar I have, or the charred part of the salmon I just roasted, or driving a car, or living in a city.

      Don’t like it? Don’t go.

      Michael wrote on February 27th, 2013
      • I think some slightly burnt food might be good for us. Why else would it occasionally taste so good?

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
      • Hormetic effect, maybe?

        Sofie wrote on March 4th, 2013
  8. Sorry, GTFO of the smokey bar. I used to hang at an American Legion. Me and my clothes smelled horrible all the time. Not worth it. Find another bar.

    glorth2 wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Yep. I say find a new group of friends who care about their health more.

      Sarah A. wrote on February 25th, 2013
  9. Some waxes used on apples cause me distress (headache and stomach upset), it is most likely a petroleum based wax that Mark alluded to. I love my organic apples, they aren’t shiny!

    Colloid wrote on February 25th, 2013
  10. Just got back from lunch. Couldn’t find placenta on the menu anywhere. Perhaps next time.

    basilcronus wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Even if it’s not on the menu it’s still fun to ask for it. They don’t usually give it to you… but they do make the most amusing faces. (being insane enough to eat what they bring out after you do that is also suggested)

      -Tim

      Tim wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • I’ve heard it’s on Panera Bread’s “hidden menu” with all the other healthy options.

      jrVegantoPrimal wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • Ahahahahaha!

        J wrote on February 26th, 2013
  11. Per produce that travels large distances, what would you say is the effect from latex absorption, or even other toxins, during the travel?

    Ryan Huss wrote on February 25th, 2013
  12. Regarding second-hand smoke. Of course being exposed to it is bad, but what about the people that I see running or exercising near busy highways and streets. Automobile exhaust and, especially, diesel exhaust are just as bad. Particulate matter (mainly from diesel exhaust) in California is related to the same amount of deaths as second-hand smoke from tobacco. And in the United Kingdom it has been estimated that pollution from automobiles and lorries (trucks) causes 24,000 premature deaths a year. If you exercise outdoors try to do so as far away from busy highways and streets as possible.

    D. M. Mitchell wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • http://www.sott.net/article/258479-Nicotine-can-boost-blood-vessel-growth
      Your body is intelligent. You can use the elements for good purposes.

      Animanarchy wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • Tobacco was used in American Indian cultures for medicinal purposes. Anatabine anyone?

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 25th, 2013
        • Bon Rurgundy/ Ron Burgundy etc. I think you might find Temple of the Screaming Electron interesting. Lots of good BBS there. It was one of the first influential sites that set me on my geo-centric delinear discourse around the time I entered high school.

          Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
        • I can’t post the link here. I think MDA ahs it blocked. 8O

          Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  13. Thanks for the great info on fruit wax. Is the wax on cucumbers the same? It always seems harder to wash off.

    Lisa wrote on February 25th, 2013
  14. This article was so interesting. I was just having a conversation the other day about fruit wax with a friend of mine who used to work in a grocery store and whose job it was to wax the fruit (and vegetables). I try and buy farm fresh produce where possible anyway, but we were wondering whether the wax would be harmful or not when consumed. I guess the best thing is to thoroughly wash all fruit and vegetables or, like you said, peel things if you’re worried.

    Thanks!

    Nat wrote on February 25th, 2013
  15. They wouldn’t let me eat during labor, I gave birth at 7:38 PM after 18 hours of labor, and after they were done serving dinner, apparently. I didn’t get to eat until the next morning after that–over 36 hours without food. I would certainly have eaten that placenta if they didn’t whisk it away before I could have at it.

    I’m still bitter about this.

    Joy Beer wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • What kind of torture chamber of a hospital did you go to? It should be reported. Food is normally always available, although hospital food is often downright disgusting. Too bad no one could go out to get you something, you certainly deserve it after labor and delivery!

      Siobhan wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • Food is generally not allowed in case the woman needs a c-section, due to the risk of aspirating vomit.

        Jared wrote on February 25th, 2013
        • Any of us, at any moment, could be involved in an accident and need emergency surgery which may involve a risk of aspirating vomit. Using that logic, none of us should ever have anything in our stomachs.

          A woman in labor is running a marathon of sorts. By all means, she should have food and water. Especially water. Why have fluids piped into your veins when you can just swallow them?

          Encapsulation is the way to go. I took a capsule with my prenatal until the bottle was gone. (I’ve heard the hormone-balancing benefits can be useful during menopause, so I have the second half in the deep freeze for later use.)

          Kinzie wrote on February 28th, 2013
      • All the more reason for out of hospital birth for low risk women. My husband was not allowed to eat while I was in labor, but that was because I wanted him with me at all times. I, on the other hand, had all the food and drink I wanted. :-)
        I am also a fan of placenta encapsulation. Don’t think I could do it raw like so many women do. . .

        Susan wrote on February 26th, 2013
      • I went to Riverside in Columbus, Ohio. My (ex) went to his favorite bar to celebrate and tell everyone immediately after, and never came back until the next afternoon. The nurses did not bring me food even though I clearly asked for it. I can tell you that 10.5 years later, I would not put up with ANY of that nonsense. There was so much more that was perfectly awful about the experience. I completely KILLED my breakfast and asked for another one, and they said it was too late, that I’d woken up too late. After nursing my 9 pound 11 ounce baby at every 45 minutes mark through the night, I somehow got to sleep and missed their magical extra-servings breakfast hour by getting my (tiny) breakfast at 830 AM. Yes, it was a torture chamber of a hospital. Oh well, breathe… I’m feeling angry all over again and it is long over.

        Oh, and I’d asked for the cord blood to be donated, but of course they didn’t.

        Joy Beer wrote on February 26th, 2013
      • The hospital in the town I inhabit barely has any food. I went there and asked for some food when all my canned goods were frozen and they said there was only one sandwich in the whole hospital! (which I got to take away at least)

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  16. As a husband who actually did the placenta encapsulation for my wife, I can’t recommend it highly enough. It wasn’t exactly pleasant to prepare it, but totally worth it.

    We have 3 kids, and only did this for the 3rd (the 1st 2 were ‘normal’ hospital births, the 3rd we opted to have at home and saved the placenta). Afterwards I purreyed / dehydrated and encapsulated the placenta. My wife recovered so much faster from this 3rd birth in comparison to the first two – and I attribute it in large part to taking those capsules.

    We have plenty left over, and they come in very handy about once a month. Just 1 capsule can change her from a devil to an angel in about 20 minutes. (As another trick, try eating a spoon full of coconut oil when the going gets rough).

    I expect any remaining placenta to be useful whenever menopause hits. Seriously – it cures what ails you.

    Bob B wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Squeamish warning; I read once that the aboriginal women- at least the medicine women, saved the menstrual blood in a sort of hollowed out stick. The narrator described her trouble with this (being a Westerner) until she witnessed a young man of the tribe fall down a small cliff and snap his leg quite broken. Someone must have pushed it in to the right place, I can’t remember if it was splinted or not, but the medicine woman applied the dried blood and whammo- next morning the guy was up and walking with a slight limp. I can’t remember the name of the book but it was a fascinating account of one reporters walkabout in the harsh Ozzie outback.

      Madama Butterfry wrote on February 25th, 2013
  17. If you read the comments of the NYT article, the preparer of the placenta capsules comments and states that she did not use herbs.

    AV wrote on February 25th, 2013
  18. Placentophagy is quite a strange phenomena and one I have not been able to get my head around. Speaking about pregnancy there has been a lot of studies into the effect of second hand smoke on pregnant women. Some of the studies actually show that second hand smoke can have long term repercussions affecting birth weight and making the babies susceptible to diseases.

    Joanne Smith wrote on February 25th, 2013
  19. Very interesting subject. I am a personal chef and always looking to improve in any way I can even if that means less wax.

    I always scrub all produce before preparing it for my clients.

    Jenna Watson wrote on February 25th, 2013
  20. Are you sure this is just not placebo effect? I had the same issue with devil-angel and the wierd thing was after I divorced the devil she still is…an un-happy devil. Even placenta could not cure what ails her! Think about it…

    Patrick wrote on February 25th, 2013
  21. I ate my placenta with baby #2 and was a super woman after labor. This in direct contrast to baby #1 where I experienced pretty bad post-partum depression.

    Jo wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • I had the same experience… Ate it with #2 & not #1. I would describe the feeling as close to a runner’s high after eating the raw placenta (in a smoothie). Didn’t get the same happy high taking it encapsulated. If we have another, I will go raw & not encapsulate for sure. Here is my take on it http://slowsimpleliving.blogspot.com/2012/05/8-essentials-for-mama-baby-postpartum-1.html

      Carol wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • Thanks, Carol. I will look into it for baby number 3. With one, no placenta eating or encapsulation- PPD. With two, encapsulated placenta- I felt much better with no PPD.
        Interesting note, after baby one, I felt compelled to eat large amounts of beef liver and still felt awful. After two, I ate very little beef liver.
        Maybe raw is the way to go to feel ever better post partum?

        Susan wrote on February 26th, 2013
      • Hmm, another organic primal potential psychotroopic I’d like to try, along with adrenochrome. I wonder if eating a pineal gland would enhance mood at all.

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  22. I am a relatively hippy, homebirthing, extended breastfeeding, cosleeping, all the other stuff we are evolved to do Mama, but placentophagy just grosses me out, lol! I would much rather plant my babies’ placentas under a fruit tree and eat that (healthiest fruit trees on our property, lol).

    Lily wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • If an animal does not dig it up and gnosh…

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 25th, 2013
      • I buried some “skunk” a couple times and what I think was a skunk dug it up, mangled the bag slightly, but otherwise left it in usable condition.
        Mischevious beasties!

        Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  23. As a veterinary technician and rancher, I’ve seen a lot of really gross things in my life that didnt gross me out. But since having kids, I really get gagging watching the cow eat her (or her friends who gave birth beside her) placenta. Cow placentas are HUGE, Blech – well there is one thing worse, when the dog drags the rotting placenta “jerky” into the yard rolls in it and proceeds to chew it. Thats really gross!

    mamab wrote on February 25th, 2013
  24. Lol, I Breastfeed, Co-sleep, wear my baby and all that. I have not eaten any placenta. This last one didn’t even want to come out, the Doc had to go in and get it..(GAH!) but evidently I grow big beautiful babies AND placentas…although I certainly lost a ton of blood after that last one, I bet it would have been beneficial! Can you donate placenta? What about banking placenta?! Shoot, I might be on to something….

    Juliemama wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Anyone wants to donate placenta or anything healthy and edible (well, most.), or anything else good, I’d be a willing recipient. Panhandling of the 21st century!

      Animanarchy wrote on March 1st, 2013
  25. I have encapsulated several placentas for others and had my own done after the birth of my daughter on the recommendation of my acupuncturist. I don’t add herbs, just steam it, dry it, pulverize it, and put it in capsules. It’s quite an amazing thing if you reflect on it for even a bit, and was an honor for me to help support these new mothers in their recovery. And everyone for whom I encapsulated placenta attested to its benefits (women who had several children and could notice the difference). Open your minds, placentaphobes!

    Amelia wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • +1

      Laura wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • +1 for encapsulating placenta.

      Taking it really was NBD, just popped a couple with a glass of water at mealtimes. I genuinely believe they helped, certainly in the immediate post-partum period when your head really is on the spin cycle, especially with the broken sleep.

      Cranberry wrote on February 26th, 2013
  26. mark, really interesting and suprising that you answered the question about eating placentas. i recently came across a great webpage that was super informative about the placenta as an organ both before, during and after birth, and why its imperative new and new again mothers and parents know the importance of this organ and its function. basically our standard medical procedure of cutting the cord ASAP and ripping the placenta from the womb is extremely aggressive and not the healthiest practice for baby or mom. the placenta is still a part of both organisms after birth and should be left attached to the baby until it has pumped all of its last vital juices and energy. there is such a mystery surrounding some of the most beautiful but also basic things in life, because they are taboo we never really get to explore this, our own creation:)!

    http://birthmatters.co.nz/issues-of-birth-rights/hands-off-the-cord/

    jessica rae wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • I certainly hope delayed clamping soon becomes the norm. We let our boy have all of his blood – that made more sense to me than saving some to bank for a possible future need, and not letting him have his full blood volume at birth. It only takes 3-5 minutes for the cord to go white and empty – surely these busy doctors and nurses could spare five minutes.

      Kinzie wrote on February 28th, 2013
  27. My husband likes to call them my “happy” pills. :)

    My ND/midwife recommended placenta encapsulation and I am incredibly glad I was able to get over my initial “what the what?” response.

    There have been mornings where I forget to take them, I’ve noticed my patience is thin and my energy level is lower. I can’t speak on PPD however as I haven’t experienced it with either of my children.

    Also considering I am anemic, I was curious about my postpartum iron levels and had my blood tested recently {I take multi vitamins, my “happy” pills, and CLO}. My iron levels were golden. And I still have pills in the fridge at 5 months postpartum!

    Erin wrote on February 25th, 2013
  28. I am stunned! Placenta the discussion!

    But seriously folks– how about second hand smoke from something burring in the oven? My wife “smoked” some cinnamon rolls she was making for the kids– forgot the pan dripped butter on the hidden bake element and really set the house a smoking.

    I don’t eat her baking– but I wonder if that smoke is better or worse than smoke from tobacco, or for that matter from a “smoker” where ribs, butts, and such are being prepared?

    Rev. Dave Deppisch wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • Smoking foods for preservation and taste is as old as fire. Foods can be either cold or hot smoked. I would not lose sleep over it.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 25th, 2013
  29. Eating placenta boosts milk production? I’d love to see a study on post-partum Guinness consumption. Doctors once did, but do they still, prescribe this to new mothers in Ireland? Folklore claims it boosts red blood cell count and helps let the milk down.

    Kaecee wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • After my first baby, I was worried I would lose my milk when I went back to work. I was pumping 3-4 times a day, but it still worried me, especially after my production took a bit of a dip a week in. A friend suggested dark beer, so I started drinking one a night with dinner. Sometimes I forgot or didn’t have the cash for beer, and I noticed that the morning after I hadn’t had a beer, I pumped 4-6 oz. less at my first morning pumping. Anecdotal, I know, but it did seem to help. My daughter, who was a little premature due to pre-eclampsia, also gained weight so well the doctor couldn’t believe it.

      Beccolina wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • I was encouraged to drink a beer daily while nursing. This was 10 years ago now, so still relatively recent. I did ocassionally, but I don’t like beer, and it wasn’t really in the budget to buy beer for daily consumption.

      Sarah A. wrote on February 27th, 2013
    • Apparently hops help to increase milk flow, which is where the recommendation for beer comes from.

      Pajamazon wrote on March 4th, 2013
  30. Oh, give me a break! The human body is not some fragile little delicate snowflake. Secondhand smoke has never killed anyone. If there were actually people who died as a clear and direct result from exposure to secondhand smoke, Mayor Bloomberg would have already turned them into household names.

    More info about why the studies purporting to highlight the dangers of secondhand smoke are bunk: http://heartland.org/sites/all/modules/custom/heartland_migration/files/pdfs/23613.pdf

    And here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,100318,00.html

    Tom Elliott wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • 2nd hand smoke causes global warming.

      erik wrote on February 26th, 2013
      • On Mars.

        Elenor wrote on February 26th, 2013
    • …said the employee of the tabacco industry.

      Piper A R wrote on February 26th, 2013
      • Because you have to be an employee of the tobacco industry to oppose politicians using junk science as a premise for incinerating our liberty?

        I am not an employee of the tabacco industry. Although I would certainly be proud to work for a tobacco company.

        Tom Elliott wrote on February 27th, 2013
      • Research the Roskamp Institute. Anatabine is an organic anti inflammatory derived from tobacco.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 27th, 2013
    • I spent a weekend with my chain smoking Aunt and her husband and I gotta tell you…. it was at least a month before I felt right. My asthma (which never bothers me) came back with a vengence and now it makes total sense.

      I’ve always been curious if cancer rates later in life are higher for children of smokers? I was forced to sit in a closed up car with a smoker mother. If we asked for the windows to be opened usually all we got is a crack or if it was cold, nothing at all…

      Stacy wrote on March 2nd, 2013
  31. You completed some nice points there. Your focus is helpful! And no great surprise there mainly because your artical is very brilliant.

    camen wrote on February 25th, 2013
  32. It is a fantastic article, so nicely written and informative ! Thank You for sharing your knowledge with others!

    Munnu wrote on February 26th, 2013
  33. I really notice the wax on the apples at the supermarket. There is a big difference between the size of the “treated” versus the organic ones. Either way, I typically go for the organic just to be safe.

    Interesting article, thanks!

    Z. Carter wrote on February 26th, 2013
  34. Another homebirthing, breastfeeding, babywearing mother chiming in here: I ate a small serving of my placenta (panfried with onions) and froze the rest. It did not look so appetizing to me when i thawed it out a month later and, as it was bareroot rose season, cut it into pieces and put around the roots of several new roses we planted to celebrate our son’s birth. Those roses were sure happy and so is my son 14 years later. In any event, it seemed wrong to just throw it away, I can think of nothing better than to start off a new plant well in life.

    mims wrote on February 26th, 2013
  35. As far as cleaning washing or peeling the fruit what advantages would a vinegar-hydrogen peroxide-water solution have over a fruit and veggie cleaner? haha I always thought water alone did the job.

    Janette wrote on February 26th, 2013
  36. I plan on encapsulating my placenta. I’ve heard from mothers and midwives that it’s great for both post partum depression as well as a boost in energy levels.

    Dani wrote on February 27th, 2013
  37. Thanks, Mark, the info on wax really surprised me!

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on February 28th, 2013
  38. Wow! Newsflash time:
    Placentophagy is gross … at least if you are a part of most modern cultures.
    Also, second-hand smoke wont freaking kill you; might not even do anything… stop letting your mind behave so pathetically reflexively on the topic of cigarettes – you are the victim of a sustained public health campaign that is way out of line. Yes, cigs are bad… now educate yourself because there is far more to it than some would have you believe.

    qwbet wrote on February 28th, 2013
  39. if non toxic wax apply in an apple, how many days will the apple last?

    Benfred Tacuyan wrote on April 1st, 2013
  40. “virgin rats” has me in a fit of giggles!

    whitney wrote on April 6th, 2014

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