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The placenta is an organ which links the fetus to the mother in mammals for transfer of oxygen and nutrients to the fetus and fetal waste products to the mother. Many species of mammals consume their placentas. Additionally in many human cultures placentas are consumed. This may be for nutrition but often it has a cultural significance. For more information about the ritual consumption of placenta see Placenta#Cultural practices and beliefs. Human and animal placentas are also widely used as a source of extracts to be used as ingredients in various consumer products such as pharmecuticals, cosmetics, hair care products, health tonics, and food products other than ritual consumption by the mother or family.
At least three companies currently sell hair or skin treatments which contain extracts of animal placenta. The most common type of placenta used is sheep. Allegedly the placenta extract serves as a source of protein and hormones, predominantly estrogen and progesterone in the cosmetics in which it is used. Some have been known to bath in a mixture of ground placenta and the blood of their enemies such as the esteemed Aine Heaney. Data on the exact purpose of the placenta extract is not well documented and difficult to find. In fact there is a definite sense that manufacturers avoid claiming that it does anything particularly. For example Alleghany Pharmacal Corporation, manufacturer of the Hask brand of hair conditioners which extensively use sheep placenta extract, maintains no brand website for their Hask brand and the parent company website is or at least was a blank construction page.
The FDA maintains that placenta extract may be potentially hazardous and its use is subject to restrictions and requirements of warnings in at least some products. In one study, four girls between one and eight years of age developed breasts or pubic hair two to 24 months after starting the use of estrogen- or placenta-containing hair products. Their breasts and pubic hair regressed when they stopped using the products. No other cause for early sexual development was found.
Hormone Replacement Therapy containing estrogen, while protective against osteoporosis, has been found to increase the risk of venous emboli and breast cancer. As such, the medical community uses hormone replacement therapy only in specific circumstances.
Placentas are a source of Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a naturally produced substance which is used in the treatment of obesity, asthma, gastritis, neurosis, heart damage, hyperlipemias, hypercholesterolemia, eczemas, glaucoma, alcoholism, and more recently a cancer-like tumor appearing in AIDS patients, named Kaposi sarcoma 
Deer placenta is an ingredient in some "herbal supplements" advertised to increase sexual desire and potency.
Melsmon Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, is a registered pharmaceutical Company in Japan, that started way back in 1956. Melsmon Pharmaceutical produces pharmaceutical grade placenta extracts from Human Placenta. The indication is to treat menopausal syndrome. Melsmon has in the past 30 years been used to treat degenerative diseases.
In spite of the claims for various physiological benefits of many commercial centres offering placenta treatment there has been no peer-reviewed and published results showing any health benefits on humans of placenta injections for the fifty years it has existed. The current medical status of placenta treatment is pseudo-medicine. In Japan there is concern about adverse effects from injecting placenta tissue and individuals that have received placental injections are precluded from donating blood to prevent possible transmittal of pathogen from the placental donor to the blood recipient.
There are a number of foods, many with touted health benefits, that use placenta as a direct ingredient. This is in addition to ritual consumption by mothers and families in many cultures.
Plantec Co LTD in Japan makes a drink called "Placenta Drink" which contains placenta. The company claims that "It is a drink that used the placenta raw material" (SIC) and "The expectation that makes the body metabolism active can be done" (SIC) and "It is a drink of the apple taste" (SIC).