Placenta (both human and animal) has been consumed since ancient Egyptian days when soldiers would eat it before going into battle. They claimed it gave them energy and rejuvenated them. Placenta has also been part of Chinese medicine for centuries, as well, used as a kidney and beauty tonic, and for overall good health.
Now, even though I’m open to new ways to stay healthy and fight the look of aging skin, I don’t know that I would recommend you go as far as eating placenta. What I might suggest as an alternative, though, is looking into the bioidentical plant sources of placenta. These seem to have some promising anti-aging and rejuvenating skin properties without the danger of possible hormonal side effects from animal-based placenta products. Let me tell you about them and you can decide for yourself if you’d like to give them a try.
Aging Skin and Placenta Products
Today, Asian women (Japan and Korea) have been using animal-based placenta products (sheep, lamb, deer) for their touted skin rejuvenating effects for several years now. They are available in very expensive injections and/or lesser priced capsules that are taken by mouth. Spas in Europe also offer facials using sheep placenta and these products are available over-the-counter and online.
Reportedly, women (and men) achieve remarkable results from using sheep placenta claiming that it makes them look years younger. Some aestheticians and plastic surgeons claim that the sheep placenta products can be an alternative to surgical facelifts as they say the product tightens the skin and removes wrinkles by rejuvenating collagen growth.
Sheep placenta product promoters also say that because sheep are a close genetic match to humans, their placental products are easily absorbed by the human body. Yet, while it’s true that humans and other mammals (like sheep) are similar to each other genetically – something that exists safely in an animal system may not necessarily be safe for humans.
As they are a mammal placenta, like humans, they contain a high amount of the hormone estradiol – an estrogen. This may up a woman’s risk of developing breast and/or uterine cancer. In men, while these products may make their skin look younger, the addition of such a powerful female hormone may also cause them to have increased breast tissue, cause them to become impotent, or increase their risk of prostate cancer or diabetes. Sheep placenta also contains progesterone which, although it balances estrogen in humans, too much of it is not desirable.
Consider the story of Premarin – the medication made from hormones in pregnant mare (horse) urine – that was prescribed to women for years as hormone replacement in menopause. It too contained animal estrogens and progesterone in amounts that were not analogous to humans. The side effects were numerous including cancer, stroke, lupus, etc.
The product manufacturer of sheep placenta products also say they boost human growth hormone (risky business without a doctor’s supervision); regulates menstrual cycles (again, hormone interference); boosts the immune system; and offer myriad skin-rejuvenating benefits. Yet, what they don’t say is that, as these products also contain animal proteins, these products could cause serious allergic reactions in some people. Some users have said that they experienced skin rashes after using them.
The Promise of Plant Placenta
In contrast to animal placenta products, from what information I find on them, plant placenta products may be a safer alternative. Plant placenta contains amino acids and peptides that are bioidentical to those present in humans but without the risky hormones.
These amino acids share the rejuvenating effects on skin that animal placenta offers. They stimulate the skin’s natural turn-over of cells and the synthesizing of collagen. A good collagen matrix in the skin is what holds skin together and prevents wrinkles and sags from occurring.
In plants, the placenta’s job is to nourish the plant’s fruit as it grows. It provides a liquid that keeps the plant and fruit well-hydrated. It contains peptides, mineral salts and soluble sugars. It helps deposit free water in the epidermis. These properties are likely what helps plant placenta lend human skin its beneficial moisturizing and plumping effects.
Importantly, dermatology testing has been done on plant placenta that shows a lot of promise. In a study out of Croix Rousse Hospital in Lyons, France, researchers found that plant placenta significantly improved dry, flaky, wrinkled skin from illness or aging; stimulated hair follicles to grow new hair; and exhibited a high tolerance to its use.
Their research also showed that skin cells uptake of oxygen increased 70% with the plant placenta. In addition, protein synthesis was increased 40%. With more oxygen, and protein synthesis, skin cells are stimulated to become more active and regenerate like much younger cells. The researchers concluded that plant placenta could be beneficial in deep skin rejuvenation; improvement/removal of lines, wrinkles, scars, stretch marks that already exist; and optimal moisturization.
Because animal placental products do contain high levels of female hormones, I feel there could be some danger of side effects in long-term use of them. Even though manufacturers of these animal placenta products claim that there are no known side effects, I don’t see any studies on humans to unequivocally know that yet. Even though I’m not an expert in plant placenta products, I’m more comfortable suggesting you consider one of these products first if you’re looking for the anti-aging skin benefits that placenta products offer.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Natural Health News
Try Sheep Placenta to Tackle Wrinkles, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2010906/Dont-fancy-facelift-Try-sheep-placenta-treatment-tackle-wrinkles.html
Beautiful Life – Anti-Aging Sheep Placeta, http://bodycellrepair.blogspot.com/2011/07/sheep-placenta-now-everyone-can-stay.html
Plant Placenta, http://www.boca-raton-anti-aging.com/plant_placenta.htm
Premarin Side Effects Lawsuits, http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/premarin