Placenta in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

Li Shizhen first wrote about placenta as a medicine in the 1500’s when he compiled the first Materia Medica on Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Dried placenta has been used widely ever since for many different symptoms.

Placenta ‘augments the Essence’ in TCM.  Translation: Placenta makes greater/stronger the vital force of an individual.

Materia MedicaChinese Herbal Medicine – Materia Medica REVISED EDITION

Compiled and translated by Dan Bensky and Andrew Gamble with Ted Kaptchuk
Illustrations Adapted by Lilian Lai Bensky
Available at Amazon


zi he che

  • Pharmaceutical name: Placenta Hominis
  • Family: Hominidae
  • English: human placenta
  • Literal English translation: “purple liver vehicle”
  • Channels entered: Liver, Lungs, Kidney


  • Tonifies the Liver and Kidneys and augments the essence: for infertility, impotence, spermatorrhea, low back pain, lightheadedness, and tinnitus from insufficiency of Kidney qi and debility of the essence and blood.
  • Augments the qi and nourishes the blood; for emaciation, pallor, and/or insufficient lactation due to exhaustion of qi and blood.  Also used for unremitting seizure disorders.
  • Tonifies the Lung Qi and augments the Kidney essence: for wheezing due to deficiency of the Lungs and Kidneys.  Especially useful between acute attacks or consumption with night sweats, emaciation, and debility, as well as chronic cases of wheezing and cough.


  • Use cautiously over prolonged periods of time and do not use alone for heat from yin deficiency.


  • 1.5-4.5g (powdered); for consumption, the fresh placenta is washed and made into a soup.  Good quality is in good shape and purplish red.


The chemical composition of Placenta Hominis (zi he che) is exceedingly complex.  Among the more important known ingredients are gonadotrophins, prolactin, oxytocin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, sex hormones, cortisone, interferon, urokinase, prostaglandins, lysozyme, kinase, histaminase, oxytocinases, haemoglobin, phosphorus and sugars.



Immunological effect:

Oral administration of powdered Placenta Hominis to mice lessens the pathological changes from tuberculosis, even though the medicine increases the growth of the germ in vitro. It is thought that this occurs by an enhancement of immunological system. This medicine also has a certain inhibitory effect upon the artificial induction of ulcers.

Haematological effect:

Placenta Hominis contain a “urokinase inhibiting factor” and factor XIII, and therefore can be used for bleeding from factor XIII deficiency. It also enhances the healing of wounds.

Effect on endurance:

Preparations of Placenta Hominis given to mice increase the duration of their maximal swimming times.

Antibiotic Effect:

Placenta Hominis contains a globulin that has some effect, when injected intramuscularly, in the prevention and treatment of measles and influenza.

Treatment of pulmonary diseases:

Point injection of Placenta Hominis into such acupuncture points as B-13 and S-16 of 8 patients with severe asthma showed good results in 7 cases. When there were recurrences, repeat therapy was successful.

In another clinical series, injections of a preparation of this substance were used to treat 47 severe and recalcitrant cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with excellent result in 17 and significant improvement in another 24 cases.
No side effects were noted.

Treatment of dermatological disorder:

A powder made from sterilized Placenta Hominis was used in 30 Cases of Skin ulcers, within a few weeks.

Use in promoting lactation:

Powdered Placenta Hominis was used for 57 cases of insufficient lactation. Within 4 days, 48 Women had markedly increased milk production, with the remainder following suit over next three days.

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