Eating the Afterbirth – Placenta Is A Chinese Medicine Tradition

cooking placentaThis blog, about the human placenta may sound “out there”, but more and more women are now calling “a placenta cooking lady” to prepare their placenta into pills to take after child birth. The placenta is attached to the fetus via the umbilical cord.  Once the baby is born the placenta and cord are considered medical waste (so we are told) at the hospital. We’ve known for some time the umbilical cord is a source of stem cell research and many wealthy parents now have the cord frozen and stored just in case it is needed in the future. 

Recently, this trend is gaining popularity in the West. However, its been widely known and accepted that the human placenta has tremendous value in the East. Chinese Medicine has used  human placenta as part of their materica medica for generations.  Ingesting your placenta can help a new mother recuperate from childbirth and rebuild lost blood and nutrients.

You can have your placenta cooked, dried and placed into pills to supplement your child birth recovery.  Those that have used placenta pills after birth swear they have a shorter recovery from postpartum hemorrhaging, more energy from replenished nutrients, increased milk production and no post-partum depression. In fact, a good friend of mine recently gave birth and she has just finished taking her placenta pills.  This was the first time she had placenta prepared into pills and she reported feeling great and said it was a little like a caffeine type energy boost without the caffeine.  She had an extremely easy recovery overall and this was her sixth child.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, placenta is considered a powerful and sacred yang tonic.  Traditionally, the placenta is cooked with herbs and wine.  Wine in Chinese medicine has a dispersing action and therefore helps to distribute the placentas nutrients throughout the women’s body.  The placenta is full of natural oxytocins which are responsible for contracting the uterus, it also contains  hormones which are believed to be the reason it helps with postpartum depression.  Historically Chinese Medicine has used human placenta for those who have low energy.  Interestingly, it is the only meat that comes from life, not death, and we are the only mammals that do eat their placentas.  Maybe the animal kingdom has something to teach us.

Michael Jackson and Prescription Meds: Too many? Too often?

Are American doctors overdosing their patients on prescription mood enhancers, (Prozac) and sleeping pills (Ambien), pain pills, (Vicodin) or is it just the super stars like Michael Jackson? Living in Los Angeles, one becomes accustom to the constant buzz of movie stars and the rich and famous going off to drug rehab centers, but with the sudden death of Michael Jackson everyone’s talking about the same subject like never before.

The drugs MJ was taking and the probable overdose. We’ve seen and heard about it before (Anna Nicole Smith) yet this time the amount of drugs prescribed and the amount needed for so many years seems un-imaginable. Everyday people die from prescription overdose but it’s not news because it’s not a celebrity.Mj872

Truth is, for the general public, doctors freely provide prescription medication to anyone who simply shows up at the doctors door with a nominal complaint, “I can’t sleep”, “I’m depressed”, “I just need something to relax me”. The medical establishment willingly prescribes medications with minimal face to face patient interaction. To make matters worse, the doctors don’t have time to ask you if your taking med’s from another doctor. The real danger is both the interactions among cocktails of prescriptions and the amount taken as resistance to drugs grows higher as the body becomes increasing tolerant to each drug.

Now this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Antibiotics keep getting stronger as viruses become resistant. Uncertainties remain in the risks of prescribing antibiotics freely for conditions such as childhood ear infections which have been proven have no benefit for bacterial infections, Now some say our drinking water and irrigation water is polluted with antibiotics that are not filtered out in water sanitation plants. How do we avoid this tainted water. The long term hazards of antibiotic resistant viruses, could have widespread irreversible impacts on our world, a subject, clearly for another blog.

Today the ease of getting prescription medication is just simply to easy. Every home seems to have a fairly well stocked medicine cabinet of prescriptions. We even see TV commercials warning us to keep prescriptions away from our teens, who are looking to take them or sell them at school.

I am sad that MJ had to die and I believe his death could have been prevented. There are safer alternatives for depression, pain and insomnia. In China and most of Asia, herbal medicines have been the standard. People do not become addicted and over dosing is virtually unheard of. Yet, herbs are effective and provide relief for many of the same conditions for which people choose prescriptions in the West. We simply have not been introduced to these alternatives. I hope with the lose of Michael Jackson the AMA or FDA cracks down on Doctors who abuse prescription writing privileges. I hope MJ’s death opens people eyes to the very real dangers not just of addiction to prescriptions but also dangers of death by drugs.

4th of July Fireworks and Chinese Medicine

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Another July 4th and Americans, including myself, love their fireworks shows. Most  people know the Chinese invented fireworks but do they know when?  The invention of  gunpowder  was approximately 800 AD.  Gunpowder  was used to make signal flares in 1232, later becoming fireworks.

What  else was going on in China, in the year 1232?  Well, Chinese Medicine was  enjoying more  popularity than ever  with more written text and heavy hitters emerging.  In fact, Chinese  medicine was enjoying a kind of renaissance. The Tang Dynasty (618–907)  already had  a claim to an important text on Pulses. The Huang Di nei Jing, arguably one of  the most important documents in Traditional Chinese Medicine, had already been around approximately 1000 years, (completed by 220 AD).

This year we celebrate our nations 233rd  birthday. Sound pretty young compared to Chinese medical history and the birth of fireworks.

Just as we embrace Chinese pyrotechnics to celebrate our independence we should also embrace another Chinese creation, Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Right now were at the birth of showing our independence  from Western medicine. With the advent of greater acceptance of  Traditional Chinese Medicine we are taking control of our health and well being.  Just as we embrace fireworks this 4th lets also embrace the other Chinese innovations.

Fun Fact:   (Fire rockets were made by filling capped bamboo tubes with gunpowder and iron bits (shrapnel). These lethal weapons were attached to an arrow, lit, and shot from a bow. These were the first solid-fuel rockets. The Chinese used them to fight the invading Mongol hordes.)fireworks