In Search of Human Placentophagy: A Cross-Cultural Survey of Human Placenta Consumption, Disposal Practices, and Cultural Beliefs

Journal of Food and Nutrition Vol/Iss. 49 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC Published In Pages: 467-484
By Young, Sharon M., Benyshek, Daniel C.


There are ethnographic accounts of human societies specifying particular cultural beliefs about how placenta handling can influence a person's life.


The percentage analysis pertaining to specific cultural beliefs about the placenta is the following: alter or predict the future (54.4%), harm caused by animal consumption or contact (17.8%), polluting/contagion (11.9%), witchcraft/malevolent use (8.9%), treat a medical/physical condition (2%), belief specific to culture (2%). Additionally, 29 societies identified a description or name of the placenta: 12 (41.4%) described the placenta using a friendship or kin terms whereas 17 (58.6%) used a term demonstrating a relationship between a child and the placenta (e.g. blanket, house, or something remaining close during the life).


Test NameSupportSignificanceCoefficientTail
Percentage ComparisonPartially SupportedUNKNOWNUNKNOWNUNKNOWN


Variable NameVariable Type OCM Term(s)
Placenta Cultural Beliefs DependentChildbirth