Not a Placebo

A Closer Look at Pilot Trials in Maternal Placenta Consumption

Human placentophagy in the form of placenta encapsulation is a growing trend worldwide. Until now, the evidence for the practice among humans has been largely anecdotal and has not been well studied. Over the past few years, there has been an exciting increase in human placentophagy research. Researchers at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV) have been working on a pilot study of human placentophagy which started collecting data in 2013. This research has included already published studies on the hormone levels and nutritional content of the capsules, as well as, the impact on maternal iron levels. In late November 2017 a two-part pilot study was released for publication and, at the time of this article, is in press.

Research always seems to have some limitations. But research in the realm of placentophagia tends to have many. Those of us following placenta research have had a number of undeniable facepalm moments in the last few years, with more to come for sure. The recent UNLV studies are no exception to this trend. They were all based on a group of people in the Las Vegas area that had chosen to encapsulate their placenta and were willing to participate in the double-blind study. Because the participants were self-selecting there may be socioeconomic or personality traits that would impact the results of the studies.The sample size was very small with 27 participants (12 in the placenta group and 15 in the placebo group). The placebo used was beef or Quorn (a vegetarian/vegan option) which may or may not have measurable impacts on the postpartum period.

Effects of placentophagy on maternal salivary hormones: A pilot trial, part 1¹
In the first portion of the trial, salivary hormones were tested during the 36th week of pregnancy, within 96 hours of birth, and after supplementation between days 5 and 7 postpartum, and then again between days 20 and 27 postpartum. The hormone levels tested were not consistent between the placenta and placebo groups even prior to supplementation. The sampling was not done at a consistent time during the day, which day postpartum, or the amount of time after supplementation this is not an abnormal or unexpected finding. The trial may have had better results or findings if those variables had been evened out. Orally ingested hormones do not remain in the system at constant levels, typically dropping to baseline within 8 hours. Normal and healthy hormone levels vary greatly between individuals; with a small sample size, this variability is to be expected. So again, given the uncontrollable variables of the body, they certainly could have standardized their times and dates for better comparisons.

So with all those variables did they find out anything? Well, first they found that the average hormone levels did not show any significance between the placenta and placebo group after supplementation. However, when the results were analyzed with respect to the hormone dosage received there was a clear indication that hormone levels were being affected by the placenta capsules. Meaning the anecdotal reports of placenta capsules helping women rebalance in postpartum may now have some scientific backing! Hormonal changes in the postpartum period are a science unto themselves, hello endocrinology. But this is awesome news that should lead someone somewhere to further this research into future steps and findings. Hopefully, they will have a larger sample size and better time/date sample controls since building on prior research typically aim to improve. (Young, 2017)

Placentophagy’s effects on mood, bonding, and fatigue: A pilot trial, part 2²

In the second part of this trial, the participants were evaluated using 10 different questionnaires used to evaluate postpartum mood, anxiety, stress, sleep quality, fatigue, marital satisfaction, social support, and bonding. The questionnaires were administered by a team of 2 female researchers at the same meetings that the salivary samples were taken for part 1. For the most part, the results for the placenta and placebo group were not statistically different. But there were two instances the results did show some significant differences:

  1. The Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale at the first meeting post supplementation for the placenta group showed a decrease in postpartum depressive symptoms. Interestingly, this meeting correlates with the time that the participants were consuming the highest dosage of placenta capsules. It is definitely possible that this is a positive correlation to placenta consumption.
  2. While assessing for fatigue the placenta group did have significantly improved fatigue over the course of supplementation. Inversely, the placebo group had higher amounts of fatigue over the course of study. The placenta group also reported better sleep immediately postpartum (prior to supplementation) so this decrease in fatigue could potentially be linked to this, however, it could also potentially be linked to the placenta consumption.

While these results are certainly not conclusive, they may indicate that placenta encapsulation is having a positive impact on the postpartum experience. People may be experiencing a positive impact from placentophagy, both hormonally and emotionally.

It is very important to point out that placenta encapsulation does not replace proper mental health care. The Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA) is a strong proponent of expedient detection and proper treatment of postpartum mood disorders by mental health professionals. APPA trains all our certified encapsulators when and how to refer clients to local professionals appropriately.

We look forward to the potential that these pilot studies have opened up for larger scale studies into the benefits of placentophagy. The best is likely yet to come!


¹ S.M. Young, et al., Effects of placentophagy on maternal salivary hormones: A pilot trial, part 1. Women Birth (2017),

² S.M. Young, et al., Placentophagy’s effects on mood, bonding, and fatigue: A pilot trial, part 2. Women Birth (2017),


This research review is brought to you by a collaborative effort of the Association of Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA) Advisory Board (Melody Wunderlin, Christi Trimble, and Jules Gourley).




APPA Shining Star: Erin Black

Meet Erin Black of Adelaide, Australia!

Erin was born under a full moon on November 20th 1983 in the sleepy coastal town of Denmark in Western Australia. She now calls the coast of Adelaide, South Australia home.
She is an enamoured Wife and Mother to two wildlings, a dog, a turtle and two chickens.
An eternal student of life, Erin is also a Doula, Placenta Specialist, Childbirth Educator and Facilitator of workshops, retreats and goddess gatherings for birth workers, pregnant women, mothers and females alike.
Growing up, she always felt an overwhelming urge to want to create peace and connection and spread love and compassion, she just wasn’t sure in what capacity.
Falling pregnant in 2012 saw her life catapulted on a whole new trajectory. She found herself inhaling any and all information she could find on pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, parenthood, women’s mysteries and the sacred feminine.
When she gave birth to her first wildling in 2013 she quickly realised just how vitally important it is to not only nurture your child, but to nurture yourself. Shortly after, her business Nurture The Goddess was born.
Finding her tribe of women to journey alongside, share experiences with and support and love one another was an essential piece in the puzzle of her adventure.
Erin feels very fortunate to be able to combine her passion for pregnancy, birth and motherhood with her desire to care and nurture others. She is able to support women and their families on their individual journeys – whether that’s through her doula, placenta and childbirth educator work, or through bringing women together to weave a web of celebration and support.
Erin loves honouring significant life events and transitions. She loves living in sync with, connecting to and honouring the cyclic nature of all things. Her favourite things include PLACENTAS!, family hangs, swimming in the sunshine, eating frozen grapes, creating, connecting, bare feet, kindness, gardening, kitchin’ witchin’ (cooking), laughing, board games, baby wearing, exploring natural therapies, good company, good wine, pilates, togetherness, smiles and giggles, yoga, meditation, diving, travel, massages, learning, adventures, tropical everything, warm cups of tea, delightful smells, nature, outside fires and hot baths in winter, dancing, stretching, and of course; long walks along the beach 😉


Connect with Erin at: Follow her on Instagram at: @nurturethegoddess

APPA Shining Star: Jamie Davison

Hello there! My name is Jamie Davison, owner of With Love Placenta Services, which services Central New Jersey, including Monmouth and Ocean Counties.

I spent much of my adolescence lost and looking for my place in this world. I spent my time traveling, searching for anything that spoke to my soul. It wasn’t until I saw those two little pink lines on a pregnancy test that I knew where I belonged, I knew what I was destined to do. I have always been destined to be a mother.

During my pregnancy with my daughter, I engrossed myself into all things pregnancy and birth. I couldn’t get enough. I came across placenta encapsulation about half way through my pregnancy. I had suffered depression starting in my early teen years and was, truthfully, scared out of my mind about developing postpartum depression. After researching everything I could about consuming your placenta, I figured there was no way it could harm me, so why not! My daughter was born peacefully at home in September of 2013, and the next morning my placenta was picked up and off to be encapsulated. My placenta capsules were absolutely magical. I could immediately tell if I had forgotten to take them. I truly believe my placenta capsules were the key to my easy adjustment to motherhood.

Shortly after the birth of my daughter, I became a certified Birth Doula through Birth Arts International. I was blessed to be a part of the amazing birth community that is Austin, Texas. I spent the following years learning from some of the best birth workers in the country. It wasn’t until a few years later, a cross-country move, and one more baby that I decided to focus my energy on placenta encapsulation. I needed to be within the world of birth but could not dedicate my time to holding space for birthing women, as required as a doula. Being a placenta specialist has opened a new passion within me to continue serving woman on their journey to motherhood.

We asked Jamie some questions about her experiences with APPA, here is what she told us:

Why did you choose APPA as your certifying organization?
When I decided to become a placenta encapsulator, I asked around some Facebook groups I belonged in and ultimately decided to go the cheapest route on training programs. Within one week, I quickly realized that you get what you pay for! Without hesitation, I immediately switched to APPA and was AMAZED at the difference in the program.

What did you like the most about APPA?
APPA was amazingly comprehensive. The program is incredibly detailed, yet not overwhelming. As someone who did not thrive in a school environment, I felt all the tasks were challenging, but not overly complicated where you continuously felt “stuck”. All of the mentors left me feeling supported and like they really were there to help me succeed in the program.

How has this training changed your practice or added to your knowledge?
Before APPA I had the basic knowledge on HOW TO encapsulate, but lacked a lot of the “why” when it came to certain very important situations. After taking APPA’s training, I feel completely confident in my practice, knowing that I am now using the highest safety measures in the industry.


Connect with Jamie at or follow her on social media – or @withloveplacenta on Instagram



APPA Shining Star: Jill Schwartz

APPA would like to introduce you to Jill Schwartz from Minnesota!


Jill Schwartz lives in rural Minnesota and is very excited to be the only APPA Certified Placenta Specialist in her area, serving 8 counties of the state. She has been a DONA certified birth doula since 2004 and has a true passion for helping others. Her business “Sweet Miracles Doula” has grown significantly in the past five years and she attributes that to women who are becoming better advocates for their birth wishes and finding options that are right for them. Birth is beautiful, and women are strong…Jill loves to watch women find their inner strength and wisdom while having their perfect birth, their way.

Jill loves everything about pregnancy and childbirth. She gets excited when she talks about microbiomes, vernix, delayed cord closures, the ‘Golden Hour’, oxytocin, breastfeeding…and now placentas!! While her topics get a variety of responses, she finds that most people love to learn the benefits of placentophagy. Jill offers TM and Raw Start encapsulation, placenta prints, placenta tincture and cord keepsakes.

We asked Jill a few questions about her experience with APPA:

Why did you choose APPA as your certifying organization?

When choosing a certifying organization, I knew that APPA was the right fit for me. Although it is an online course, it uses a variety of teaching techniques to suit my style of learning, and it is self-paced! The training is extensive and thorough, with high expectations of graduates…and I liked that. When I decide to do something, I like to do it right…and APPA is a highly respected program that I knew I wanted to be a part of. I am proud of my certification and feel confident that I am now providing professional, top-notch service and safe, quality products. I feel that my clients deserve the best.

What did you like the most about APPA?
Without a doubt, the thing that I liked best about APPA is the mentor program! Absolutely amazing. Not only do the mentors help motivate you and hold you accountable for the goals that you set yourself (not theirs), but they really do care about your success. I remember the first email from my mentor; she asked, “How can I best help you succeed?” I felt like a bit of a ‘non-trad’ without much experience with online classes, but the mentors are always available to answer questions! Their experience and knowledge of the modules was very helpful whenever I needed help.

How has this training changed your practice or added to your knowledge?
Originally, I wanted to become a certified placenta specialist so I could offer the service to my doula clients. During my training and through word of mouth, I quickly found that this would become a business of its own. People were contacting me and inquiring about my services before I was even ready. I am thrilled to now offer placenta services to clients in 8 rural counties in Minnesota!!

You can learn more about Jill at her website: 

Or visit her facebook page: Sweet Miracles Doula


APPA Shining Star: Heather Meyer

We’d like you to meet long-time APPA Certified Encapsulator Heather Meyer!

Heather has been providing 5-star placenta encapsulation in the Philadelphia area for over 5 years. She has had the privilege of encapsulating over 600 placentas. Heather started out as independently trained but when APPA came on the scene they offered everything she was looking for in an organization!

Learn more about Heather’s practice



APPA Shining Star: Bronwyn Arnold-Briggs

Meet Bronwyn Arnold-Briggs from Brisbane, Australia!

Bronwyn is a certified birth & postpartum doula, HypnoBirthing Practitioner (Mongan Method), professional birth and motherhood photographer and placenta encapsulation, specialist. Bron is fully certified and insured and practices to the highest standards and holds current bloodborne pathogen and safe food handling certificates.
Bronwyn services all areas of the Sunshine Coast and areas of north Brisbane in Queensland Australia.

Why did Bronwyn choose to train and certify through APPA?

I was recommended to this course by a fellow encapsulation specialist and knew this was the highest standard of education. I wanted to ensure I had the best training and support behind me when I added this service to my business.

What she liked most about the APPA program:

I loved how thorough the materials were, that our tasks helped up with marketing/business materials. I loved the amazing support given by my mentors and how generous and supportive the student Facebook group is.

How her APPA training changed her practice or enhanced her knowledge:

This was my first training in PE – but I feel I can properly explain the reasons why someone would choose to support their postpartum with placenta products.

Bronwyn says this about her experience with APPA:

I found this course challenging and enjoyable at the same time – a really great balance of tasks. I would definitely recommend this course to others!

Bron serves the following areas:  Sunshine Coast – Noosa, Coolum, Peregian, Eumundi, Doonan, Yandina, Nambour, Maroochydore, Kawana, Buderim, Caloundra
Caboolture & Gympie Hospitals (with travel fee)
North Brisbane (with travel fee)



Learn more about Bron at her website:

Or connect with her on Facebook:

Shining Star: Anne Ferguson, APPAC

Anne Ferguson has been encapsulating placentas since 2011 and has been an APPAC since 2015. She has worked with well over 800 families as a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator (Hypnobabies childbirth hypnosis classes) and Placenta Arts Specialist.

Her interest in placenta encapsulation started in 2009 with the birth of her second child. She asked family members to encapsulate for her and loved the experience. When the capsules were gone, life with two young kids definitely got harder to manage! As someone with a history of depression (pre-kids), she knows how challenging mood disorders can be and is passionate about helping families have the best possible postpartum period.

Anne believes strongly in a multi-faceted approach to a happy postpartum. In addition to utilizing one’s placenta, Anne believes families need a positive and supported birth experience and tons of support in the postpartum period with breastfeeding, household chores, meals, and just people to vent to when things are tough! U.S. culture has such unrealistic expectations about what life looks like when a new baby arrives and Anne hopes to change that one family at a time through education and support.

In her free time, Anne enjoys spending time with her two grade-school-aged boys who keep her busy with sports and activities! They’ve grown up with birth, breastfeeding, and placentas all around and are used to mom saying “I need to run and pick up a placenta” even if it’s on the way to hockey practice.

Anne’s company,  Bywater Birth, LLC, covers all of the Twin Cities Metro areas. Anne reports, “Since joining APPA my practice has continued to grow by leaps and bounds every year.”

We asked Anne why she chose to renew her certification with APPA. Here’s what she said.

“The founders of APPA were so supportive when I was first learning how to encapsulate and we were all just professionals networking and supporting each other online. When APPA was founded I knew I needed to be a part of this organization and didn’t waste any time doing so! I was the second graduate. 🙂

I chose to renew because I often hear scary stories of other people not using proper protocols and techniques. I worry about safety so I want to stay up on all the latest and greatest information to make sure we are always practicing safely. Everyone has always been so great to work with!”

How has your affiliation and certification with APPA benefitted you and your practice?

“APPA challenges me to continually improve my process and consider better ways to doing this work. Being part of APPA also provides so much support if I do every have questions about running a business that provides this service.”

Anne’s advice to anyone considering becoming a Placenta Services Provider-

“My advice would be to join APPA and get certified. It’s an intensive program but it is extremely worth it. Running a business is no joke and in order to be successful it’s important to put in the time and effort to really succeed.”

Thanks, Anne! We are so grateful for your membership and so proud of all your accomplishments. Keep up the great work with all you do to serve and support new and growing families. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.


To Learn more about Anne and her practice, be sure to visit her website-  Bywater Birth,  or on Facebook-


Shining Star: Tiffany Wyatt, APPAC

Tiffany Wyatt, APPAC As a full-time, freelance graphic designer of 15 years and natural-minded mom of two, Tiffany Clark Wyatt encapsulated for her second postpartum to help with energy levels and anxiety. After experiencing real results, she then encapsulated for a close friend’s second postpartum who suffered from severe PPD with her first. The results were life-changing for them both and Tiffany became a true believer in the benefits of placenta encapsulation. She is co-owner/co-manager of MotherBirth, an incredible group of birth service providers in southern Louisiana.
After four years and 300+ encapsulations, Tiffany continues to keep her knowledge base at the highest level available by maintaining her certifications with the Association of Placenta Preparations Arts (APPA), Louisiana Food Handlers, and Bloodborne Pathogen.

“The education and mentoring I received and continue to receive within the APPA community allow me to be competent and confident in my standards for safety, current practices, and in the complex art of preparations for my fellow mommas.”

Tiffany practices in Lafayette, LA and serves Lafayette to Lake Charles and everywhere in between.

Tiffany began encapsulating in 2013 as a mentor trained placenta specialist, then certified with APPA the summer of 2014. She has since been asked to be a co-owner and co-manager of MotherBirth. They have now tripled the size of their group and client base. MotherBirth is determined to provide the safest placenta preparation services by certifying each of their providers through APPA. Five of which are working through the course now.

Why did Tiffany choose to renew her certification with APPA?

“I choose to maintain my certification with APPA because of the level of accountability with a professionally-based, international board. Also, the knowledge and respect provided for the professional placenta service providers in the flexibility they are able to choose to practice with the safest standards in the industry.”

How has your affiliation and certification certified through APPA benefitted you and your practice?

“There have been a handful of occasions where I needed to consult other professionals on a particular case in order to confidently move forward in those situations. Certified APPACs were there to brainstorm the situation and I know I made the best choices for each of my clients with the support of my association.
APPA keeps us up-to-date with any studies or articles published allowing me to continue to be a sort of placenta knowledge resource for my birth community.” Way to step up to the plate as an expert in your field!

Tiffany’s advice to anyone considering becoming a Placenta Services Provider-

1. Strive to be an expert at what you chose to do by learning as much as you’re able and never stop.
2. Get to know the birth community in the area you wish to practice and create meaningful relationships.
3. Respect prospective clients and the industry by only practicing the safest protocols and proper equipment.


Tiffany serves Lafayette to Lake Charles, Louisiana and everywhere in between.

To Learn more about Tiffany and her practice be sure to visit her website-, on Facebook-, or on instagram- @motherbirthla. Thank you, Tiffany, for your continued loyalty and dedication to excellence. APPA is lucky to have you.

APPAC Shining Star: Jesse Dykhuis

Jesse Dykhuis, APPACAPPA Certified Placenta Arts Specialist Jesse Dykhuis Duluth, MN

Jesse Dykhuis, APPAC is the first graduate of the APPA certification program. She lives and works in Duluth, MN and has been offering safe professional placenta encapsulation since 2009. Her business The First Place on Earth in Duluth, MN has served over 800 families. Jesse offers both raw start (Holistic) and steamed start (Traditional) method processing as well as placenta prints, placenta salves, placenta smoothies and placenta tinctures. The First Place on Earth offers both full service and express options to meet the service needs and budgets of most families.

Jesse first began offering safe professional placenta encapsulation in 2009 and has served over 800 Northland area families.

Not only is Jsse APPA’s first graduate, but also among the first to renew her APPAC credential. When asked why she chose to renew, this is what she had to say, “Certification matters to me. Being aligned with APPA means I will always have the best and most up to date information and the highest level of training and professional standard in our industry.” She states, “Even as an “old timer” I learned a lot in this program and raised the standards of my own practice.” Jesse is obviously an industry leader and well seasoned professional. We asked Jesse if she had any advice for folks interested in becoming a placenta preparation specialist. She said, “APPA. Hold yourself to the highest standard – it matters to your clients.”

Thank you, Jesse, for being part of the APPA Family. You are an asset to our industry. We wish you continued success and prosperity in your placenta services practice.

To learn more about Jesse’s practice visit her website at-

or visit her on facebook at- First Place on Earth

APPA Placenta Training Celebrates Their 3rd Anniversary!

APPA Birthday

I think we’ve lost our minds!

We’re giving away our full placenta training course to one lucky winner. APPA course giveaway

Enter to win on our Facebook page


That’s not all we have in store for you. During the month of July, we are giving away a free copy of Placenta: The Gift of Life  By Cornelia Enning to every single new student.

APPA Free Book


If you sign up using the single payment option we’ll take off $25! APPA discount