“Mad Men” actress January Jones told People magazine that she began taking placenta pills after giving birth last fall and credits them with helping her to bounce back quickly. (Frazer Harrison/GETTY IMAGES)

There is a certain logic to the placenta’s being the perfect postpartum superfood. Throughout pregnancy, the organ transports blood, oxygen and nutrients from the mother to the baby. Some call it “the tree of life,” both for its many branching veins and its life-sustaining force.

The most commonly cited benefit of placenta consumption is that it helps balance hormones and thereby combats postpartum depression. . . . Web sites suggest using it in recipes like any other organ meat, pan frying it or cooking it in lasagna. Some strong-stomached mothers have used it raw in smoothies.

The article goes on to quote a scientist who says most of the assumptions about the benefits of placentophagia come from extrapolations from work with animals, rather than scientific data. A local doula says, “Personally, I don’t think moms are drawn to this because of scientific research.”

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