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Placenta treatment is a type of alternative medicine that is used in a number of Asian nations. The treatment consists of injecting placental material, harvested either from a human or an animal, into a human patient’s bloodstream. Many people claim that injections offer numerous health benefits, including increased energy, relief from the symptoms of menopause, and repair to damaged liver tissue. Though there is little medical evidence to confirm the health benefits of placenta treatment in human patients and some evidence that there may be health risks associated with its use, many people continue to receive it.
Before placenta treatment is administered to a patient, the placental material is processed to make it safer for human use. Placenta, which can be extracted from an animal or from a human who has just given birth, is chemically altered, purified, and sterilized to render some of the proteins inactive and eliminate a number of blood borne diseases. The placenta is also tested, if it comes from a human donor, to make sure that no serious human diseases are present, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis.
Despite the measures taken to ensure that placenta treatment is safe, many doctors, in 2011, are skeptical about its use in humans. In Japan, people who have undergone placenta treatment are not allowed to donate blood. In many other countries, the treatment is not approved as safe or is even outlawed by the government.
The hormones, immune cells, and other materials present in placenta nourish the growing fetus. It is believed by those who receive placenta treatment that these enzymes and molecules can provide health benefits to humans who receive injections of placenta. Studies conducted on laboratory rats have shown that injections of placenta can help repair damaged liver tissue, and though trials have not been conducted in human patients, the treatment is often prescribed for that purpose. Initial studies also suggest that injections of placenta may boost energy and lessen the symptoms of menopause in humans.
Despite the fact that many people believe placenta treatment to be a panacea for a variety of problems, there is little medical evidence to support its usefulness. Anecdotal reports, preliminary tests on human subjects, and tests on animals indicate that the treatment may have some limited effects on human subjects. More testing is needed to evaluate both the safety of the treatment and its efficacy.