TCM vs Raw Placenta Encapsulation

After deciding upon placenta encapsulation the next question is often ‘would you like TCM or Raw method used?’ I have been trained in raw and traditional methods but it is up to the mother to determine which she feels will work best for her. Sometimes that decision is based on beliefs. TCM & Traditional Method - TCM is the common short term for Traditional Chinese Method. The Traditional Method I use is based on the principles of TCM but is not exactly as historically prepared. TCM came from The Materia Medica, a well know Chinese text that was created in the 1500’s. TCM doesn’t just take into consideration the nutritional aspects of a food (carbs, protein, nutrients, minerals). It also considers the energetic properties of foods in planning meals and supplements. In TCM placenta is referred to as zi he che. In TCM it is important to fill the void where the baby once was with warming energy to help the body postpartum. Consumption of placenta also is in line with the Ayurvedic  system in the belief that meats are warming. The first 48 hours following birth cooling foods are suggested. Raw placenta falls into this category. TCM teaches that beginning at 48 hours after birth warming foods are most beneficial for a mother to boost yang energy. Cooked or steamed foods (like TCM encapsulated placenta) are considered warming. TCM believes they help rebuild blood, qi or chi, and they slowly help to increase the body's various endocrine functions. When the placenta is steamed during the traditional method placenta broth is the liquid by-product of the process. Some moms chose to reserve some or all of the broth after steaming. It can be added to soups or smoothies or used to water a special plant. Consumption of the soup was common in the past. The Traditional Method involves steaming with lemon, ginger, and hot pepper (unless allergies won’t allow for something). The lemon and pepper in this version come from midwife Raven Lang’s method as taught to her by Dr Miraim Lee, a nurse midwife from China and one of the first licensed acupuncturists in California, with whom she apprenticed for 3 years in the early 8O’s. Frankincense, myrrh, and ginger are referenced in various versions of the Materia Medica and are used in TCM processing. They are used only in the steaming water, not directly in the finished capsules. The frankincense & myrrh are said to be used only when the mother has had a big bleed or lots of large clots due to their property of aiding in physical healing. I only use organic lemon, ginger, and hot pepper in my processing. Raeben Nolan has said in a discussion on TM versus Raw that in her research she has found that, “Cooking makes A LOT more nutrients available to the digestive tract that would otherwise pass through the system unabsorbed, and this is especially true for meat,” (Nolan, 2010 and Ellgen, 2010). Raw Method - The major difference is that the raw method for encapsulation skips the steaming part entirely and raw placenta is dehydrated vs steamed placenta. This also increased the drying/processing time. Many chose to use the raw method through placenta smoothies right after birth, where a piece of the placenta is blended into a smoothie. Why do some moms choose the Raw Method? Those who choose the raw method tend to feel that the ‘essence’ of the placenta is preserved this way and that enzymes are retained since steaming can destroy them. It is also felt that this is the more ‘potent’ of the two methods. Why do some moms decide the Raw Method isn’t for them? These capsules can be rather potent compared to TCM. If a mom has had mild depression, or worse, or any type of chronic or intermittent anxiety Raw has the potential to exacerbate this or even bring it out. If your health history includes any kind of depression or anxiety Raw Method may not be for you. However, there have not been any studies on this so it could be a purely anecdotal suggestion to stay away from Raw if you’ve experienced those issuse in the past. The Raw Method is processed at a different temperature and does not go through the steaming process. This leaves room for bacterial growth if the placenta is not properly processed or handled. Another reason to be sure your encapsulator is a professional vs a hobbyist.
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