You’re Planning on Eating WHAT???

***WARNING:  If you are at all squeamish about human placentophagy (consumption of the placenta), turn around, close out this window, and leave now as this may be TMI for you!

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Well, eating – no; not exactly….more like ingesting, but we’ll get into that….

Last night before leaving a kindred gathering, I was talking to a few of my kindred about the next few gatherings I wouldn’t be able to attend – Imbolc being one of them due to my husband needing minor surgery next week  and our Beltane/Walpurgisnacht Celebration as my due date is in fact April 30 – way too close to be 1 hour away from the hospital in which I’ll be delivering.  We joked about dancing the May Pole that could be in turn be used as a birthing pole and have my baby right there.  We started talking about The Bradley Method – classes and coaches, and I was like, “Yeah right!  During my last 2 births, my husband just sat back across the room the whole time playing on his iPhone until it was time for the hard pushing!” To be honest, he was no help at all – totally clueless as to what to do or how to help me as I labored through the pain and showed no prior interest in even attempting to learn what it meant to be a birthing partner or coach…Woosah….anyways, back on subject…

That conversation made me think long and hard about perhaps looking into hiring a doula to assist me this time around.  Granted, I was able to get through 2 other natural births without one, but ugh, just the thought of having to go through that again by myself fills me with dread….

As I was searching for and comparing doulas in my local area, I came across one local doula service offering something that I had never heard of before – placenta encapsulation.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard of the practice of women eating and sharing the placenta for nutritional reasons and could see and respect the practicality of said practice, but the very thought just quite honestly didn’t sit well with me.  Even watching the scene in the movie Wanderlust in which Almond and Rodney come downstairs into the kitchen with a fresh placenta in a large bowl with a still attached newborn via umbilical cord announcing that a meal was to be made and shared with the house members was enough to turn my stomach.  To me, it almost seemed like cannibalism.  As I read on and started to do more research however, my opinion started to change…

Before I go any further, I want to touch on and address the issue of cannibalism.  Some people believe that the eating of placenta is a cannibalistic act and is quite taboo with reasons ranging from ignorance on the subject to moral objections and religious beliefs.  “There is the assertion that the placenta is part of the woman’s body. Actually, this is inaccurate. While there is a maternal component, placental tissue is mainly derived from the fertilized egg and carries the fetus’s genome…What about swallowing semen?  Would that fit the definition of cannibalism?”[1]  What about exchanging and ingesting skin cells contained in body fluids while kissing or having sex?  But let’s define what cannibalism really is: “Cannibalism is the eating of human flesh.  Flesh is defined as being muscle and fat; placenta is neither.  Cannibalism, by definition, is consumption of the flesh of someone or something that has been recently killed. Placentas, again, do not qualify.”[2]  Setting all preconceived notions aside, logically – does that fit the definition and criteria for cannibalism?  No, I think not.  I concur with Judi Selander’s conclusion: “…placentophagia is not cannibalism because it does not involve killing, nor the consumption of flesh which belongs to a deceased person. It does not present an affront to the dignity of the human person. Nor is placentophagia morally evil as long as the intentions and circumstances are either good or morally indifferent.”[3]

So, now that that’s out of the way and we’ve determined that placentophagia is NOT cannibalism, let’s move on.  Historically speaking, people from many different cultures have been consuming placenta for hundreds, if not thousands, of years!  “In a 1979 volume of the Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, William Ober’s article ‘Notes on Placentophagy,’ evaluates the possibility that certain ancient cultures that practiced human sacrifice may also have practiced human placentophagy, including Egyptians, Tasians, Badarians, Amrateans, Gerzeans, Semainians.  Human placenta has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine (TCM), though the mother is not identified as the recipient of these treatments.  A sixteenth-century Chinese medical text, the Compendium of Materia Medica, states in a section on medical uses of the placenta that, ‘when a woman in Liuqiu has a baby, the placenta is eaten,’ and that in Bagui, ‘the placenta of a boy is specially prepared and eaten by the mother’s family and relatives.’ Another Chinese medical text, the Great Pharmacopoeia of 1596, recommends placental tissue mixed with human milk to help overcome the effects of Ch’i exhaustion.  These include, “anemia, weakness of the extremities, and coldness of the sexual organs with involuntary ejaculation of semen.”  Dried, powdered placenta would be stirred into three wine-cups of milk to make a Connected Destiny Elixir.  The elixir would be warmed in sunlight, then taken as treatment.  It is not known exactly how traditional this remedy was, nor exactly how far back it dates.

Ober also identified many cultures known to have practiced placentophagy for medicinal purposes, and one for its flavor:

Dried human placenta as medicine – Ziheche (紫河车)

The Araucaninan Native Americans of Argentina dried and ground a child’s umbilical cord, giving the child a little of the powder when it was sick.

In Jamaica, bits of placental membranes were put into an infant’s tea to prevent convulsions caused by ghosts.

The Chaga of Tanganyika place the placenta in a receptacle for two months to dry. Once dry, it is ground into flour from which a porridge is made. The porridge is served to old women of the family as a way of preserving the child’s life.

In Central India, women of the Kol Tribe eat placenta to aid reproductive function. Consumption of placenta by a childless woman, ‘may dispel the influences that keep her barren.’

The Kurtachi of the Solomon Islands mixed placenta into the mother’s supply of powdered lime for chewing with the areca nut.”[4]

The benefits of placenta are quite amazing.  “In Italy, women have been known to eat parts of the placenta to help with lactation. Hungarian women bite the placenta to expedite the completion of labor. And knowledgeable midwives in this country have their birth mothers take bites of raw placenta to help stop hemorrhaging, due to its beneficial oxytocin content.” [5]

From my research, benefits of consuming placenta or capsules include:

  • Decreased risk of post-partum depression.
  • Reduced risk of post-partum anemia.
  • Increase in breastmilk production.
  • Reduction in post-partum bleeding.
  • Pain relief, and faster healing.
  • Helps return the uterus to pre-pregnancy state.
  • Gives you more energy

The known ingredients that give the placenta its healing properties are:
Gonadotrophin: the precursor to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone
Prolactin: promotes lactation
Oxytocin: for pain and bonding; produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding of mother and infant. In pharmaceutical form this is a very addictive drug because it promotes a feeling of connectedness with others
Thyroid stimulating hormone: boosts energy and helps recovery from stressful events
Cortisone: combats stress and unlocks energy stores
Interferon: stimulates the immune system to protect against infections
Prostaglandins: anti-inflammatory
Hemoglobin: replenishes iron deficiency and anemia, a common postpartum condition
Urokinase inhibiting factor and factor XIII: stops bleeding and enhances wound healing
Gammaglobulin: immune booster that helps protect against postpartum infections   [6]

placenta_helperNow, from what I’ve gathered, the eating of cooked placenta is comparable to liver.  I CAN’T STAND LIVER!  No matter how many different types of livers I’ve tried and how they’ve been prepared, I just can’t stomach the taste.  And still, just the thought of handling and cooking placenta still grosses me out.  Granted, it is more frugal and “magical” if you will – to bring it home and prepare yourself – investing your own energy into it and all.  There are many sites and videos out there with directions on how to do your own capsules, recipes for preparing it and incorporating it into smoothies, lasagna, spaghetti, soups, stews, pies, sushi, etc. – yummy! 😛 – but damn….yeah, no thanks.

 

Fortunately, I was able to find a service that comes to the hospital and picks the placenta up to be processed who is offering one hell of a deal right now using the TCM (steaming it with lemon, ginger and green chili,  dehydrating it, grinding it into a powder, and into empty vegetable capsules) that expires in a few days.  I do not believe in coincidences, so I believe that I was meant to come across this and give it a try.

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Based on my current situation – pretty much a single mother of a 5 year old and almost 4 year old as my husband is barely home; and on my previous experience with depression and having to resort to going on Zoloft after the birth of my second child to deal with a very bad bout postpartum depression, I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can naturally and spiritually to avoid going down that route again and make sure I’m taking care of my family.  Who wouldn’t?

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Am I going to tell my family?  Mmmmmm, probably most definitely not, LOL!  Based on their reactions to my decisions to have natural drug-free births, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and co-sleeping (my mother and grandmother would “jokingly” compare me to a cow, thought I was crazy, “felt sorry for me” for supposedly not getting enough sleep or thinking that my breasts were sore and “worn out” from breastfeeding, kept asking when I was going to start weaning, or move my kids to a crib…but they did manage to throw in things occasionally like, “I don’t know how you do it” or “You’re quite the little mother”.)

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I could only imagine the shock and horror in their voice the next time I call home and tell them that I will be ingesting my placenta – actually, it kind of makes me giggle 🙂  And to be honest, I probably won’t even tell my husband as he gets really weird sometimes about such womanly things.

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Witch, Heal Thyself (UPDATE)

Wow, it has been a REALLY long time since I’ve written.  I’m having a bout of insomnia right now, all is quiet as the kids are in still fast asleep and the hubby is at work – so what better time to write!  I just wanted to take some time to reflect on my natural treatment of my endometriosis – what worked, what didn’t.  As you recall, I had a very extensive list of herbs and vitamins I started taking.  It was a little overwhelming at first, but within a week or so, I fell into a routine.  Here is a recap of the vitamins and herbs:

Vit B6 – 100mg a day

Vit E – 800 IU a day

Co Q-10 – 100 mg at bedtime

Cranberry Extract with Vit C – 4 soft gels a day

Folic Acid – 400 mcg a day

L-Carnitine – 1,000 mg a day

Oscal Ultra as directed for 1,200mg calcium a day

Magnesium – 500mg a day

Selenium – 400 mcg a day

Flaxseed Oil as directed

Milk Thistle – as directed

Saw Palmetto – 360 mg per day

More Traditional Medicinals Every Day Detox Tea (x2/day)

Christopher’s Chaste Tree Berries (Vitex) 400mg  (as directed)

Wise Essential Wild Yam and Progesterone Cream

Nature’s Way Don Quai Root (as directed)

Ashwagandha Complex 578 mg (as directed)

Nature’s Herbs Cats Claw (as directed)

YS Eco Bee Farms Triple Bee Complex Royal Jelly Bee Pollen Propolis (as directed)

Tumeric Extract 800 mg (as directed)

On top of that, I changed my diet up a little: cut out coffee (which only lasted a few months though – did lower my consumption though from 4 cups to 2 cups a day); cut out conventionally raised beef; drank 1 tbsp of diatomaceous earth (DE) a night; and 1 serving of Garden of Life’s Perfect Food – Super Green Formula in the afternoon.

 

WHAT HASN’T WORK:

– Giving up coffee completely (as stated above, LOL!)

– Ashwagandha Complex 578 mg – I noticed I started having heart palpations throughout the day and night.  I had a feeling it was the Ashwagandha, though I couldn’t find anything online listing heart palpations as a side effect.  Low and behold, a few days after stopping the Ashwagandha, the heart palpations stopped.

– Wise Essential Wild Yam and Progesterone Cream – This cream actually made my cramps worse!  I started out using as directed and within a week, I started getting terrible cramps.  I lowered it to 1/4 tsp twice a day with no relief.  It took about 2 weeks for the cramps to go away after I stopped using it.  I’m not sure what the deal was, but it didn’t help me one bit.

– Raspberry Ketones – Broke my own cardinal rule here and didn’t do the research before taking them.  My husband had heard about and bought a bottle of raspberry ketones diet supplement for weight loss and wanted me to try it with him.  I was on the fence about it for some time before starting taking them as I’m not really big on diet pills.  Within about 2 weeks of using them as directed, I noticed that I started getting cramps that grew progressively worse.  Well, come to find out, raspberry ketones “might increase the effects of the hormone estrogen. Women who suffer from hormonal conditions linked to estrogen production should seek medical advice before usingraspberry dietary supplements. These disorders include endometriosis, breast or ovarian cancer, and uterine fibroids.” [1]  So, if you have any of these conditions, stay away from raspberry ketones!!!!  Even after a month, the cramps didn’t go away completely, and my periods which had been previously been right on time for about 3 months were off.  I decided to give the Evening Primrose Oil a try as directed and it started relieving the cramps within about a week.

– Cutting down the dosage of Chaste Tree Berries (Vitex) – As directed on my bottle of Chaste Tree Berries, it states to “take 1 capsule 2 times a day for 8 weeks. Thereafter take 1 capsule daily. Vitex works slowly so for optimum results it is best if used long term.”  Within a few weeks of cutting down to 1 capsule daily, I noticed the cramps starting to come back, so I began taking it twice a day and the cramps went away.

So, there you have it till next time! 

 

Good News So Far

Well, after an ultrasound on Wednesday, PCOS was pretty much ruled out by the tech.  There was one cyst on my left ovary that she noted, measuring 3cm (the biggest one so far) that she believed to be a hemorrhagic cyst and not PCOS – as she explained with a person who has PCOS, the cysts would look like strings of pearls wrapped around the ovaries.  I only wonder if this is the same cyst that has been giving me problems since December or is a new forming every month?  And if there is a new one every month, why?

My mammogram results also came back yesterday – normal!  I have another doctor’s appointment at the end of the month – which is good because it’ll give me more time to prepare and gather information together to bring to the doctor’s office incase I’m given a bit of a hard time about rejecting Depo-Provera and taking the all-natural route.

Endometriosis Reading List

I thought I’d put together a list (be it very small) of books that I’d like to read on the subject of naturally treating endometriosis.  Click on each book to be redirected to Amazon.  Please feel free to add any that you found helpful:

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I found this one, PCOS and Diabetes as a free download on Amazon one day…    519JdsRpNFL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-38,22_AA300_SH20_OU15_

Herbs Are Here!

So, as you know, I’ve started all the vitamins – the headaches went away within about 5 days of starting the vitamins and re-starting up the Diatomaceous earth (DE).  Again, I’m not sure if the headaches were a result of my old neck injury, the DE (which I’ve read some people do experience as well as flu like symptoms when they start detoxing as your body tries to rid itself of stored toxins) or even the incense that I give as offerings.  The rest of my herbs came in today that I had ordered from Vitacost which includes:

More Traditional Medicinals Every Day Detox Tea (x2/day)

Christopher’s Chaste Tree Berries (Vitex) 400mg  (as directed)

Wise Essential Wild Yam and Progesterone Cream (that I’ll be starting during next cycle)

Nature’s Way Don Quai Root (as directed)

Ashwagandha Complex 578 mg (as directed)

Nature’s Herbs Cats Claw (as directed)

YS Eco Bee Farms Triple Bee Complex Royal Jelly Bee Pollen Propolis (as directed)

Tumeric Extract 800 mg (as directed)

 

I’ve decided to cut out the Evening Primrose for now until I do more research on it as I’ve read good and not so great stuff about it and endometriosis.

A lot of pills to take, yes, I know.  But I will tell you this – since I’ve started the vitamins and cut out some of the other foods (to include coffee 😦 ) I feel amazing!  I’m sleeping better, I’m more relaxed and able to handle stress better and just feel all around more healthy.  We’ll see what happens now that I’ve incorporated these herbs.

Witch, Heal Thyself

I decided that it would be good to journal about my episodes with endometriosis in that it may in some way, help others out there who maybe looking for information on treating it.  I was diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 26 shortly after suffering a miscarriage in the fall of 2006.  Something deep inside me knew I had it – my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother all had it and I just knew I had it.   My gynecologist didn’t think so, and after some going back and forth with her, she finally agreed to perform a laparoscopy.  Low and behold, endometriosis and some small cysts on my ovaries were found.

Not knowing too much about it or how to treat it at the time except that it caused painful menstruation, infertility and could spread very easily to other areas of the body, I agreed with no fuss to my gynecologist’s recommended treatment: Lupron-Depot.  Lupron-Depot put me into a menopausal state in which I stopped menstruating, suffered hot flashes, extreme bouts of depression and weight loss.  Also, later on, I’d discovered through dental x-rays that I’d also experienced bone density loss.

Long story short, after 2 injections, I soon found myself pregnant soon after my then fiancé returned from his second tour in Iraq.  Then, 9 months after the birth of my daughter, I was again pregnant with my son and  the symptoms went and stayed away well past the time I was done breastfeeding.  Late 2011, I was put on Nuvaring as a birth control (BC) method.  Things were going well until about last fall when the old familiar pain started coming back and the development of very painful cysts that sent me back to the doctor.  At the end of December, I decided to go off and stay off of BC because I didn’t like how it affected my mood and depression, and given past reactions to other forms BC (i.e. Mirena which almost ended in a mental breakdown and threatening the reluctant doctor in the ER to take it out or I’d find someway to do it myself) it just felt like the right thing to do.

So, it was time to move again and we are now settled in – I went back to the gynecologist on a referral from the ER two months ago in which I’d suffered some pretty intense pain that had me on my knees.  Come to find out, I had a cyst rupture and after an ultrasound, the technician and examining physician gave me a possible diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

At my first consultation last week, the gynecologist was shocked and dismayed that I was put on Nuvaring based on its estradiol hormone which actually flares endometriois up!  She gave me 2 options – a partial hysterectomy or hormone injections.  Being that surgery is not an option for me right now and quite frankly, I’m not sure if I’m ready to part with my uterus just quite yet that left me with the other option, Depo-Provera; but still left me feeling quite uncomfortable.  After writing about it on my other blog, one of my readers asked if I had looked into alternative therapies – which I had kind of – tried a few different herbs and supplements, but really never committed to it, so I thought it was unfair to totally discount that approach and really dive into what it entailed.

So far, here is what I’ve found:  http://www.naturalnews.com/028673_endometriosis_natural_remedies.html
and this one: http://www.homemademedicine.com/home-remedies-endometriosis.html .  I think I’m going to follow the suggested vitamin intake. I’ve also found that people have had success with progesterone cream (like Fertilica) vs taking the injections http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqHPaib2MEk

I also have found that the use of the following herbs seems to be universally accepted: chasteberry/vitex, don quai, milk thistle, wild yam, goldenseal, blue cohosh, dandelion, ashwagandha, and alfalfa. Also, evening primrose oil, though there seems to be some debate over this because “it has estrogenic qualities due to the plant estrogens found in it; while these compete and block estrogen receptors preventing the bodies natural estrogen from uptake; they eventually, after long-term use, cause an increase of estrogen within the body, much of it being stored in tissue.” (http://www.mothering.com/community/t/809195/evening-primrose-oil-wa…)
Also avoid lavender in all forms as it mimics estrogen http://www.hystersisters.com/vb2/showthread.php?t=414331
There is also a diet including detoxing, avoiding gluten (though I’ve never had any issues or reactions to gluten), eating things that support healthy liver function (will be drinking 2 cups of Lemon Detox tea a day) and eliminating red meat and ham from your diet (from hormones in conventionally raised beef I’m assuming)http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blo… and avoiding excess estrogens and xenoestrogens (i.e. BPA found in plastics and parabens found in shampoos and lotions). It all seems so overwhelming and complicated… I’ve found diet supplements with the combined recommended herbs (Woman’s Best Friend – http://www.naturalfertilityshop.com/Women-s-Best-Friend-p/104360.htm and Endo-Ex – http://www.amazon.com/Native-Remedies-Endo-Ex-for-Endometriosis/dp/… but haven’t found too many reviews on them.

I do believe I’m going to try the cream, vitamins, and try to find the herbs. Also, getting back into Yoga as that seemed to help the pain when I was doing it back in NY before I moved down here to GA. I found these videos on YouTube today for women with endometriosis and PCOS http://www.youtube.com/playlist?feature=edit_ok&list=PLKGFcq-fbtmis9urBOdliEQ8cd\ N61Plzk
Also these links:

http://www.alternet.org/story/12087/can_depo-provera_destroy_your_sex_life

http://natural-fertility-info.com/reduce-pcos-thinning-hair-excessive-body-hair-\ growth-with-saw-palmetto.html

http://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-herbs#PCOS

Currently, I’ve started taking the following supplements split up twice a day:

Vit B6 – 100mg a day

Vit E – 800 IU a day

Co Q-10 – 100 mg at bedtime

Cranberry Extract with Vit C – 4 soft gels a day

Folic Acid – 400 mcg a day

L-Carnitine – 1,000 mg a day

Oscal Ultra as directed for 1,200mg calcium a day

Magnesium – 500mg a day

Selenium – 400 mcg a day

Evening Primrose Oil (still on the fence on this one) – 1000 mg a day

Flaxseed Oil as directed

Milk Thistle – as directed

Saw Palmetto – 360 mg per day

I’ve also started back taking 3 tbsp of diatomaceous earth (DE), drinking 2 servings of Garden of Life’s Perfect Food – Super Green Formula, and drinking 2 cups of Everyday Detox tea.  I cut out parabens a long time ago,  have decided to stop eating conventionally raised beef (as I already only buy organic dairy products), and sadly must part with my health and beauty products containing lavender.  I plan to purchase progesterone cream, add Chasteberry (Vitex) and turmeric.  I am also going to look into Don Quai, Blue Cohosh, Ashwagandha and Cat’s Claw, and Royal Bee Jelly.

I’ve been taking these supplements for about 4 days now.  Overall, I feel really really good – lots of energy and my mood has greatly improved, quite remarkable actually.  The only negative thing I’ve notice is that I’ve been having more frequent headaches – but my neck has also been out for a while (I have a chipped C3 vertebra) and keeps popping and grinding – so that may explain the headaches.

I’m scheduled to go back to the gynecologist next week for a mammogram, ultrasound and to have the injection administered and am kind of nervous about her reaction to me refusing the injection; but in my heart and in my gut, I know I’m taking the right approach.