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The Placenta Cookbook

For a growing number of new mothers, there’s no better nutritional snack after childbirth than the fruit of their own labor.

By Atossa Araxia Abrahamian 

Published Aug 21, 2011 

A fresh placenta simmers with ginger, lemon, and a jalapeño pepper.

(Photo: Kathryn Parker Almanas )

 

Jennifer Hughes’s placenta was delivered ten minutes after her first child, just before midnight on March 31. It was on the large side, with a liverish texture and a bluish tinge; it measured nine inches in diameter and weighed a pound and a half. Placentas are considered biohazardous waste by the medical Establishment and are usually disposed of accordingly. Some hospitals send the afterbirth in formaldehyde to a pathology lab for analysis before it is carted off by a tissue-disposal service; others toss it out with bloody miscellany in special containers.

 

 

But in the birth plan that Hughes brought with her to Beth Israel Medical Center, she specified that she wanted to keep her placenta, for cultural reasons. Complying with New York State health regulations, which says that hospitals “may, at the request of a patient or patient’s representative, return a healthy placenta for disposition by the patient,” the hospital allowed her to take it home, and even packed it up for her.

In some cultures, it is customary to bury the placenta and plant a tree over it.

Hughes had other plans. She was going to eat it.

Early the next morning, a 28-year-old woman named Jennifer Mayer is driving a Subaru from Manhattan over the Brooklyn Bridge with an opaque takeout container in the passenger seat. Inside the container is a gallon-size Ziploc bag, and inside the bag is Jennifer Hughes’s placenta.

Mayer—an upbeat, blue-eyed blonde from upstate New York—is a professional placenta-preparer. Her job is to transform placentas into supplements that are said to alleviate postpartum depression, aid in breastmilk production and lactation, act as a uterine tonic, and replenish nutrients lost during pregnancy. Her clients are mostly middle-class, like Hughes and her husband, Doug, who are college-educated, in their thirties, and live on a gentrifying street in Crown Heights. On this dreary April morning, Mayer is driving the afterbirth to their apartment to begin preparing it.

 

“It’s the freshest placenta I’ve ever worked with!” she says, glancing over at the container as the car lurches through traffic. Mayer speaks about the organ in tones most women reserve for newborns: “perfect,” “beautiful,” “precious.”

 

Her enthusiasm isn’t unfounded. The placenta feeds the baby until birth, filtering toxins while letting in vitamins, minerals, oxygen, and other nutrients from the mother’s bloodstream. It even helps reduce the risk of transmitting viruses, including HIV, from mother to child.

Mayer, who also works as a massage therapist and doula, first became interested in placentas as a student at the University of Colorado. After reading up on the purported benefits of consuming one’s afterbirth and learning that a client was planning to try it, Mayer decided that she wanted to offer her customers placenta capsules: dried, ground afterbirth packaged into a clear pill no bigger than a regular vitamin supplement.

The technique, called encapsulation, was not widely practiced in Colorado and, until quite recently, was practically unknown on the East Coast. But Mayer found a doula who conducted training sessions with donated placentas, and started her business, Brooklyn Placenta Services, shortly thereafter.

“They’re happy pills,” Mayer says. “They’re made by your body, for your body. Why wouldn’t you want to try?”

 

In 1930, the researchers Otto Tinklepaugh and Carl Hartman described a female macaque monkey eating her placenta. “After licking the afterbirth, she begins the grueling task … of consuming this tough fibrous mass,” they wrote. “Holding the organ in her hands, she bites and tears at it with her teeth.” Tinklepaugh and Hartman could not determine the precise reason why macaques—and virtually every other land mammal—eat their own placenta. To this day, the reasons remain unclear.

Mark Kristal, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Buffalo, is the country’s leading (and quite possibly only) authority on placentophagia, the practice of placenta consumption. He has been researching the phenomenon for twenty years, and concludes that it must offer “a fundamental biological advantage” to all mammals. What this advantage is, he writes in one of his papers, “is still a mystery … in fact, a double mystery. We are not sure either of the immediate causes … nor are we sure of the consequences of the behavior.” But placentas have carried a special spiritual significance in some cultures. In ancient Egypt, it had its own hieroglyph, and the Ibo tribe in Nigeria and Ghana treats the placenta like a child’s dead twin. In traditional Chinese medicine, small doses of human placenta are sometimes dried, mixed with herbs, and ingested to alleviate, among other things, impotence and lactation conditions. And in modern medicine, doctors often bank umbilical-cord blood to treat genetic diseases with harvested stem cells.

According to Kristal, the first recorded placentophagia movement in America began in the seventies, when people residing in communes would cook up a placenta stew and share it among themselves. “It’s a New Age phenomenon,” he explains. “Every ten or twenty years people say, ‘We should do this because it’s natural and animals do it.’ But it’s not based on science. It’s a fad.”

Continue reading here


This may offend some but I can’t hold my tongue any longer…

Original post by fancyayancey in Mane Glory

Over the past few months as I’ve found myself immersed in my natural-hair care research I’ve come across ENDLESS videos, tutorials, tips and advice on new ways to manipulate natural hair to obtain a certain, defined look.  While at first I loved it, these days I don’t know how I feel about it anymore…well yes I do.  I don’t like it (I’m not taking a stance on whether it’s right or wrong).  I’ve talked with a few close friends about it, but haven’t spoken publicly on it because I didn’t want to hear the backlash.  Today however, after reviewing Curly Nikki someone did a post on this very topic which has now given me the courage to speak out on it.

I don’t like when natural-haired sisters consistently manipulate their hair to make it look like something that it’s not.

When I made the decision to stop wearing relaxers, I understood and accepted that the alternative would be to wear my hair in it’s natural state as it grows out of my head.  My rationale for this expectation was my group of friends that had already began the transition.  Those women never braided, twisted and rolled their hair in the hopes of acheiveing a different look the next day.  Nor did they spend hours at night carefully detangling, drying and trying various different styling options.  Their mentality was that they were accepting their hair for what it is and were going to fearlessly rock it.  I subscribed to that mentality.  Throughout my transition until now I’ve consistently rocked wash n go’s with the occassional roller set (once) or bantu knot out (once).

It wasn’t until last fall when people began asking me what I was using in my hair to get it to curl like that when the reality of the natural-hair community hit me.  Many naturals are obsessed with obtaining a look that is opposed to their truth.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d have to tell women that I did nothing to manipulate my hair texture and watch their eyes get disapointed.  “You mean that’s not a straw set?” or “You didn’t braid or twist your hair the night before?”

My mentality is why would I do that?  If my hair doesn’t already do that naturally, then what is the point?  For so many wanting these more defined looks and who are going through great lengths to get it, why not go down the street and put in a texturizer or something.  That texturizer would give you the look you spend hours attempting to manipulate anyways.  At this point, what makes many naturals any different than women with relaxed hair?  At least the relaxed chick had enough sense to make it easier on herself by cutting down on daily styling time.

I understand that people may say it’s so easy for me to talk because my hair has well-defined curls with zero manipulation from me.  Truth be told, I understood that about my hair which has helped push me to stay this way.  However, if curl definition is what I consistently wanted and my hair didn’t do that, I would be out here getting a texturizer or something.  Why fight my hair daily to acheive a look that it’s not trying to do?  Just like all those years I appreciated and wanted bone-straight hair.  Why on earth would I have been natural?  I eagerly applied my super-strength relaxers every two-months and watched my HEALTHY hair grow straight down my back.

People tought the unhealthiness of relaxers and how damaging they are but truth be told my hair was healthy with relaxers.  Many women I know with them take very good care of their hair and have healthier hair than many of these naturals do.  Healthy hair is healthy hair regardless of the presence of chemicals.

At the end of the day, it’s JUST hair.  Lol yes, quote me on that.  So what if you’re not “natural?”  If you want big curly hair, go get the perming system.  If you want straight hair all the time, go cop that relaxer.  And if you just want your hair to do it’s own “thing,” release it and see what happens…

So overall, the point of this is to say that I’m not into all of the extensive styling techniques to force your hair to look a way that it naturally does not do.  If you want your hair to look a way it naturally does not, there is probably a chemical out there for that.

No offense to anyone.  End rant.

P.S. I understand the idea of trying something new and rocking those twist outs/braid outs, etc on occassion.  My personal pet peeve is the woman who will never let her hair just be…she insists on rocking everything but her own.  And remember, I’m not saying if it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying I don’t like it.  I just enjoy seeing the different types of curls, textures and looks Black women acheive…when everywhere I turn the naturals have manipulated looks I get annoyed lol.

What are your thoughts?

Read comments here <—



Genital Mutilation: American Edition

There are a lot of societal pressures placed on women out there these days, but this one takes the cake:  Hymenoplasty!  If you are confused, just think about what is said to happen to virgins the first time they have sex.  Get it now?  What about the term “cherry”, or the bursting of it rather…  Well there’s a new trend out there, a way to rebuild that little flap of skin called the hymen characteristic of a virgin woman.  All I can think about is how dare we ever judge another group of people for the way they treat a vagina, when it seems our reverence thereof is just as incomprehensible…

Check out this blog post–The love below: obsessing over the perfect vagina— and learn about hymenoplasty and how women have come to view one of their most precious gifts.  The choice is yours.


Let’s Talk Kombucha!

Important Kombucha Vocabulary Before We Get Started

Mother– the original culture

Baby– the cultures created once you start new batch

Mushroom– another name for the culture

Scoby– a layer that forms on the surface of liquid (a mother if it’s the original culture, or a baby if it’s her offspring, duh!!!)

 

The Short of It

Confused yet??

If you are new to the study or intake of Kombucha (I am so bare with me), then you are probably like, “huh?”

*****Kombucha is a fermented tea which can be made at home or purchased commercially and has AMAZING health benefits, as I’ve been told.  I’ve not actually tried it yet, but I am very excited about the process.  I will warn you though, it looks absolutely disgusting!  But again, the benefits are amazing!*****

Kombucha is made when black and green teas, sugar, and water are fermented in a glass jar with a cloth covering.  The time it takes varies depending on if it’s the original or first batch of kombucha, or if you already have Scobies.  It contains the following beneficial elements:

Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid, Usnic Acid, Oxalic Acid, Malic acid, Gluconic Acid, and Butyric acid.  These acids do everything from balancing blood PH levels to help prevent cancer to curing yeast infections!  Read the full story and see other examples here.

 

Quick How To’s

Without a mother

With a baby

 

In Summation

Research Kombucha, try it out, and let us know what you think!  I will update soon once I’ve tried it! And add some pictures:-)


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