Your placenta is medicine. It is such an incredible and useful medicine because it is completely identical and individual to you. Women who take their placentas are able to experience all the benefits of the remedy with practically no side effects. That is part of what is so attractive to individuals subscribing to the holistic approach to healthcare; when used correctly these remedies are safe and effective and carry very little risk/side effects.
Herbs are also a medicine, one used very often by holistic practitioners for the same benefit profile as above. Often people are afraid to use herbs as remedies because they hear of and know that some can be dangerous. And this is true, there are some plants that are poisonous; some in small doses, some in large quantities, and some to certain populations like children, pregnant women and the elderly. So please be aware, that when using herbs, it's important that you consult a professional with extensive training in herbology, and if you decide to use herbs at home that you do so with knowledge of the plant and appropriate and safe use.
Now that we have the disclaimer out of the way, one thing I have learned during my herbology studies as a student midwife and as I begin to use herbs with more frequency in my own home, is 2 things:
1. the vast majority of herbs are extremely safe.
2. most people are not using enough of an herb to effectively treat something.
So, while it's important to exercise care and knowledge with herbs, its even more appropriate to take enough of an herb to make a difference. Remember, we are using holistic remedies to promote wellness and balance in our bodies to fix or prevent a problem- it's not like the western medicine approach that targets a symptom aggressively while simultaneously aggressively affecting your whole system.
Lets look at the benefits of placenta ingestion to consider what herbs might compliment it the best to achieve even more well-rounded wellness:
feeling more balanced
decreased feelings of sadness
fewer periods of weepiness
increased milk supply
And that's an impressive list just to start! Here are some common herbs to help with the same type of transitions you experience after having a baby:
Comfrey is my go-to herb for healing. It helps to quickly build new cells and alleviate pain. Drink it in a tea infusion or use it for sitz baths. Sitz baths help to sooth, heal, and keep itching to a minimum on the perineum, while keeping tissues soft and flexible.
It's not just for cats! Catnip is extremely effective at easing after-pains, the cramping the uterus does after the placenta is delivered. Catnip reduces spasms of the uterus, helping it to be more effective at removing the lochia (normal uterine postpartum blood flow, similar to a long period). Catnip is best taken as a tea or in a tincture.
Motherwort relieves the tension and confusion of overwhelming emotion. Think PMS times 5; postpartum hormones and emotions can be intense at times.Tincture drops in water or juice are the easiest way for ingesting this herb.
There are many herbs that help promote successful breastfeeding. Hops is one of my favorites as it encourages and increases the flow of breast milk while also providing a mild sedating effect, helping with rest and sleep. The tea of hops is very hard on the taste buds and tincture form has shown to be less effective- so the final reason hops is a favorite of mine is that the best way to take it is in beer! Choose a dark brew with as little additives as possible.
So there's a good handful of herbs to start with and become familiar. If you decide to work herbs into your postpartum regimen make sure you do some good research on the ones you use to understand preparation, dosing and frequency. Not up to the work of figuring it out yourself? Contact me for simple instructions or for a referral to a well-practiced herbalist. Happy Herbing!
Tiffany Alblinger is an experienced doula and placenta encapsulation specialist who has been writing helpful articles on women's health and birth issues for several years. She serves all of San Diego, but provides the quickest placenta encapsulation service to the Carlsbad, Oceanside, Encinitas, San Marcos and Poway areas.