As part of our Postpartum Placenta Specialist certification program with ProDoula, we learn about the history of placenta use in various cultures, especial as it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dried Human Placenta (Zi He Che) has been used as a remedy and supplement in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over 1400 years. It is first documented in the 1500s in Compendium of Materia Medica by Li Shizhen.
In TCM, dried human placenta is considered a tonifying or warming herb that nourishes the blood. The placenta must be processed in the correct manner to possess the proper tonifying properties. Tonifying herbs draw the qi (energy) up from foot to head and warm the body. In order for the dried human placenta to be considered Zi He Che, it must be pierced and the blood drained, resulting in a yellow tone. It then needs to be steamed, usually with other warming herbs, before drying. Our modern placenta encapsulation process utilizes these principles for optimum results.
Dried Human Placenta has been used to treat malnutrition, insufficient lactation due to exhaustion, and to recover from emancipating illness. Dried Human Placenta tonifies the liver and kidneys and is thought to augment one’s essence. These properties influence its use to treat infertility, increase libido, and eliminate symptoms related to insufficient kidney function.
The prepared placenta is thought to work mainly on the kidney, liver and lungs. In addition to the treatments above it may also be used to treat asthma, wheezing and coughing. Liver problems and arthritis may also be treated with Zi He Che.
Some TCM practitioners will administer an extract of placenta by injecting it into the patient. In Placenta: The Gift of Life, author Cornelia Enning tells us that side effects of these treatments have been noted to include increased temperature, itching and red spots on the skin.
According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dried Human Placenta is a powerful, tonifying herb that is warming but not drying, a sacred medicine. Many modern TCM practitioners highly recommend the use of Zi He Che to aid postpartum healing.