“Thin people and fat people are the difference.” ~ loose (machine) translation of a Facebook advertisement for Fasty Placenta
This one is hard to…uhmm…swallow: Japanese women (and a few men, I guess) ingesting placenta to stay blemish-free and thin!
At first when seeing the commercials on our Japanese satellite TV channels months ago, I thought surely that using the word to product name containing “Placenta” was a way to differentiate and market yet another vitamin/dietary supplement, which it appears from the frequency of such commercials that the Japanese adore (and buy) on a scale I could have never imagined.
But real placenta? Like in tissue from animals…or humans?? Sounds horrific, and let me assure you, the goo they show on TV that actually goes in the capsules being peddled, looks equally as bad. So, it appears I may have stumbled onto the mystery of how here in the Far East, sexy young-looking women still wearing their high school sailor-girl uniforms are actually in their 40s and 50s, due to the magical life-sustaining power of pig, horse, or lamb placenta.
Actually, when you stop and think about it, consuming placenta, no matter from what type of mammal, is more akin to one of the horror movies where zombies roam the countryside hand out-stretched, moaning away for brains. Or, maybe to be more culturally current and hip, conjure up an image of vampires in their tormented and undying search and constant consumption of warm, thick blood.
Think I’m kidding about placenta?
I’m not. Placenta, human and animal, has been used traditional Chinese and other Asian traditional medicines for thousands of years, usually to treat infertility, impotence, or as a dietary supplement for certain wasting diseases. Like the longevity of booze and smokes (used in moderation), we probably shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss a millennia of culturally medical knowledge; if a behavior has survived that long as part of the human condition, there is probably something beneficial to it. Oh, and many animals do eat their placentas after giving birth. But, as we homosapiens are generally more well-fed (and easier grossed-out) than our animal brethren, the animalistic example and reasoning of eating “after birth” (pun intended) doesn’t really apply.
Here in Japan many companies (Check out the FB page for Fasty Placenta!) are hawking a plethora of porcine (pig) placenta products, varying from jellies, to facial skin masks, to soaps, to easy-to-swallow capsules, to what I can only assume are less easy-to-swallow drinks. Most of the claims are for weight loss and general health (for the ingested formats), and for younger, more beautifully radiant babyish skin (for the soaps and topical treatments). There actually is some casual evidence that the hormones contained in placenta tissue can help treat postpartum depression and menopause. Men would certainly pause (there’s a pun there too) if they knew their wives were consuming placenta!
Nihon-Sofuken offers a full array of placenta products. What’s impressive about most of the placenta prerogatives are the numbers associated with just how much “ingredient” one derives from a dose. Claims of 100,000, 270,000, or even 300,000 milligrams abound, which sounds impressive…as an advertising ploy. Converting to grams, though, and the numbers come way down into the 10’s of grams, equivalent to an ounce or less. Think of it as a shot and knock it on back. A beer chaser is highly encouraged.
Why? Because although one of the selling points online translates to something like “completely remove blood which cause bad smell and rot via a special extraction method,” you know that it just can’t be appetizing! Although one company touts that they “erase the high-density animal smell of the pig placenta (it does not smell like ham, bacon, or pork chops!) with a peach or apple flavor,” I’d still much rather have it taste like bacon. Bacon goes with everything!
In spite of the Japanese claims, I can find no real peer-reviewed and published results showing any health benefit efficacy, and in the West, such claims and treatments are best considered pseudo-science. I have read that even here in Japan there is enough concern about adverse effects from placenta tissue that some of the more invasive treatments preclude people from donating blood as an additional safeguard to help prevent transmission of pathogens.
But of course it’s not just a Far East Fad. Check out this placenta cookbook…available on Amazon, in English. I’m not kidding. At least in this form the tissue is cooked, and apparently, served with stewed vegetables…but it’s 100% human. The FDA in the United States maintains that placenta extract may be potentially hazardous and its use is subject to restrictions and requirements of warnings.
No matter. It appears that people ‘round the world will do – and eat most anything to remain youthful and trim.