Posted by: Ticktock | August 20, 2008

Dan Savage – Placentas in the Podcast


During my unwelcome break from blogging, I enjoyed my library of podcast digests, including the Savage Lovecast with Dan Savage, a sex and relationship advice columnist.  On last week’s podcast, Dan had Dr. Barak Gaster, MD on the show to answer medical questions.  Dr. Gaster is a callow mild-mannered professional, too meek to hurt people’s feelings, but generally responsible enough to correct their misconceptions.  I was more impressed with Dan Savage, who by the virtue of his own radar for common sense, seemed to be a de facto skeptic.  Several times Dan was egging on Dr. Gaster to crush the alternative medicine claims of his callers, but the good doctor’s responses were way too kind.

One girl called asking about the safety of eating menstrual blood.  Gag!  She cited that placenta blood has been used for oral or facial enhancements and nutritional value.  But, what she should have referenced was a scientific study on placenta cosmetics.  I couldn’t find even one, which means that the practice of putting placenta in cosmetics is complete nonsense.  I found one girl extolling the virtues of placenta cosmetics, but this was after years of her using botox.  I wonder which one really worked!  Any benefit of placenta cosmetics comes purely from the other ingredients in the lotion.  Placentas aren’t magic elixers, and any nourishment they provide to wrinkly babies does not translate to skin care.

Going further on this topic, I want to talk about the gag-inducing cannibalistic habit of Eating the placenta, a phenomenon called placentophagia.  Naturalist point to the animal kingdom, where many species eat their own placenta, as a reason to do the same.  Humans, luckily, have grocery stores and vitamin supplements to provide nourishment.  I’ve heard of dogs that eat their own poop, but you don’t see too many naturalists promoting that for humans.  Is it any surprise that Tom Cruise was in the news because of rumors swirling that he would eat Suri’s placenta? 

Planting the placenta is common in Hawaii, New Zealand, and now Hollywood thanks to Matthew McConaughey.  I think it’s fine for hippies to plant placentas as a symbolic gesture, but McConaughey thinks that there is some magical force that makes placenta trees grow verdant and prolific.  Well, beyond the immediate benefits of placenta as an organic fertilizer, I don’t think you will see it grow super trees. 

Among the other things mentioned by Dan Savage’s callers was a young man who gets thirsty after he orgasms.  He said he asked an Eastern-Homeopathic doctor about it, who said that the “the energy system for the gonads (is) shared with your respiratory system”.  He must have meant the conception vessel meridian, an arbitrary line from the crotch to the throat that has no basis in reality.  This homeopathic doctor was clearly talking out his ass.  Dan picked up on it right away and said, “Far be it from me to contradict a homeopathic doctor, but are the ball bones some how connected to the lung bones?”  Exactly.  A much more logical answer would be the one Dr. Gaster gives – that the kid is suffering from psychological cotton mouth.

To cap it all off, a girl calls in to suggest that girls who are suffering from a urinary tract infection should do acupressure on their ankles.  The doctor bends over backwards to be kind to patients of acupuncture, while quoting the placebo effect several times.  Dr. Gaster loses several points by making the exxagerated claim that there are “all kinds” of randomized studies that show acupuncture cures “whatever ails you”.  He must be auditioning for Oprah as a replacement for Dr. Oz because there are many acupuncture studies that show no effect, and very few that show an occasional benefit (certainly not for “whatever ails you”.)

Thanks for allowing me the indulgence of a long post.  I’ve been holding that one in for a few days now.   


  1. Tsk, tsk.
    Shame on you for bashing acupuncture. I’m telling your wife.

    Side note – I am impressed with the variety of topics and amount of research. I bow to you and will continue to be a faithful reader and seldom commenter.

  2. dan is a crack up. i need to listen to his show more.

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