Postpartum Depression: A Natural, Organic Cure You May Not Want to Hear

I recently suggested that any food that has been around for a long time, and that we’ve relied on as a part of our diet for a long time, ought to be OK for you. We’ve been eating our oldest, most trustworthy foods for millenia, and by this point any humans who couldn’t thrive on these foods have likely failed to survive generation after generation to pass on their genes.

Anything can happen within a given individual, but large swaths of society shoudn’t get major health problems from eating our old standby fruits, vegetables and meat.

The same things cannot be said about foods that we’ve recently changed and that we haven’t had the time to adapt to. These new foods include refined (white) flour, white rice and table sugar, the spread of each of which has closely tracked the spread of heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes in different populations. It is harder to imagine that these new diseases are all caused by foods we’ve had little trouble thriving on for thousands of years.

With this thought always in the back of my head, I was taken aback when I heard at a recent investor presentation that 70 percent of women suffer some form of postpartum depression, impairing their ability to care for their newborns both psychologically/emotionally and physically (through an impact on their breast milk).

Postpartum Depression

Could There Be a Natural Cure?

This didn’t sound right. How could two thirds of women naturally suffer an illness that harms their ability to care for their babies? This should have been ironed out millenia ago.

But it all made sense when the presenters offered up their solution. Evidently, many mammals, immediately following birth, eat their placentas. As do many women in Latin America.

Sounds gross? It may be only natural, and it may prevent postpartum depression. The placenta contains vital chemical compounds that relieve just this ailment.

Coincidence? I doubt it. My guess is, early woman (probably until more recently than you’d imagine) ate her placenta, just as many mammals do, and we probably evolved in light of that practice.

I am in no position to advise women to eat their placentas. But a business like the one presented to me would encapsulate your placenta into gel caps. You could take it each day along with your fish oil. Still sounds gross? I agree. But it just might work.

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3 Responses to Postpartum Depression: A Natural, Organic Cure You May Not Want to Hear

  1. Chris says:

    Personally, I don’t think post partem is caused necessarily from a nutritional deficiency, although I think it does contribute, given the fact that the fetus takes nutritionally what it needs, even at the expense of the mother.

    I think the reason that we ar seeing postpartum depression in such proportions is due primarly to the breakdown of the extended family. Many women are without support after they have their babies, so they are sleep deprived, have little time for themselves and are often looking after other children or having to go to work during this time. Speaking for myself, the lack of sleep and support I had in my life after each of my children were born was probably the biggest contributor to my post partum depression.

  2. I would have to disagree. personally, I didn’t have problems with PPD till long after`(a few months) my child was born. It had to do with lack of sleep and lack of support. Don’t get me wrong, I have a loving husband and loving family who was there to help, but that doesn’t change it.
    Every woman goes through some emotional hardship after having a baby, though the amount and duration will vary.
    lets say you did eat the placenta. Even if the nutrients and and goodness found in it were to help a woman out with their emotional stability after birth, the effects wouldn’t last long. Your body would use it up to quickly because its desperately trying to recover from that near death encounter of giving birth.
    Anyway, PPD is a real problem and I would hasten to think that woman have suffered from it for many thousands of years. It may be more documented now and, above all, woman are more likely to talk about it now. Heres a hint, not many woman like to admit they are weak and are an emotional reck inside. Its hard to do.
    So, again, I don’t think it would make a difference.

    • Doug says:

      thesustainablewe,

      It is very interesting to hear from actual mothers on this topic. Obviously I have not been there myself and never will be.

      It is also interesting to hear you and Chris both express skepticism as to the curative value of eating the placenta. The one question I had burning in my mind during the presentation I attended was whether medical research supports the idea that eating the placenta relieves or eliminates postpartum depression. Surprisingly, no one ever raised the question.

      It is also very interesting to hear you and Chris both attribute postpartum depression to lack of sleep and support. To the extent that, as Chris suggests, this could result from a “breakdown of the extended family” or other pressures of modern life, then it could indeed make sense in a biological and evolutionary sense that new mothers today are getting depressed today even if they historically did not.

      You may also certainly be right that women historically simply haven’t complained, and that any impact postpartum depression may have on one’s ability to raise one’s child is minor enough that it does not have a material evolutionary impact on the child. I would be very curious to hear from some additional medical research (and additional thoughts from mothers) on the topic. Even if eating the placenta can have a marginal benefit, it may be worth doing. Particularly if it can be taken in the rather unobtrusive form of a pill.

      Thanks very much to you and Chris for your thoughtful comments.
      Doug

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