An illegal human placenta trade is “flourishing” in eastern China, hundreds of thousands sold each year despite a nationwide ban on the practice in 2005, Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper reported Tuesday.
“Underground traders operating near the provincial boundaries of Anhui, Jiangsu, and Henan have been selling fresh placentas that they acquire from hospitals, medical waste plants and funeral parlors across the country,” according to the newspaper, which cited a recent report by the Paper, a Chinese state-controlled news site.
A trader the Paper interviewed said his group handled 130,000 placentas in 2020 obtained from various medical clinics and medical waste facilities across eastern China. The trader’s group paid 80 yuan ($12.30) for each placenta and sold them to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) suppliers for a profit.
Placenta sales have also been recently spotted on verified e-commerce platforms in China, such as Alibaba’s Taobao. Traders post placentas on the platform for sale “in the range of 450 yuan ($69) to 580 yuan ($89). Sellers charge more for placentas that are verified with test reports,” according to the report.
TCM practitioners regard the human placenta as “a legitimate treatment for those with weak immune systems and for help treating various illnesses, such as tuberculosis and hypohemia, and for reproductive health” according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP). TCM traders often dry placentas, pulverize them into a powder, then package the powder into gelatin capsules or dry mixes for consumption as a soup or with other foods. Some dried placentas are simply sold whole.
Most Western medical doctors dismiss the consumption of the human placenta as a dangerous practice because the organ – created temporarily within the body of a pregnant mother to facilitate the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to her fetus – may be contaminated with viruses and diseases carried by the mother, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B, and syphilis.
The human placenta is referred to as “ziheche” in TCM, which itself is an umbrella term for numerous natural health remedies, such as herbal teas, acupuncture, and meditation. TCM is an ancient Chinese holistic medicine practice the Chinese government has recently co-opted to promote a lucrative, pseudoscience-based medical industry that generates hundreds of billions of dollars for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
While the Chinese Health Ministry banned the trade of human placentas in 2005 because of the health risks associated with the practice, “[t]he pharmaceutical placenta trade falls into a grey area. … There is no law forbidding the sale of drugs made from Ziheche and no stipulations on the origin of the material,” the SCMP noted Tuesday.