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Placenta pills, magic mushrooms and the NHS reforms, which of these are good for you?

A round-up of the health news in the papers for Tuesday 24 January

When handed the choice between a chocolate cake and a sprig of broccoli, most would opt for the cake despite all the fat and sugar; it’s commonly accepted that food which is good for you is not always the most appetising. We all know that a woman’s placenta has extremely high nutritional properties but not many of us are eager to tuck in to a placenta pie on Friday night and you don’t often see them, stacked down the meat aisle of Tesco, vacuum-packed next to the liver.

This is where midwife, Caroline Baddiley steps in. According to the Mail, for £175 she will cook your placenta in a steamer, dehydrate it and grind the result into a powder and, hey presto, placenta pills! Mrs Baddiley said: ‘The placenta is a rich source of hormones and chemicals and it’s thought that by preserving it, some of those factors can go back to the mother’.

Continuing the theme, magic mushrooms look like button mushrooms which broke free from the pack and rolled to the back of the fridge four months ago, but apparently they can help the mental health of people with depression. This is according to the former Government drugs advisor, Professor David Nutt in the Independent this morning.

Psilocybin, the active chemical in ‘shrooms, has a ‘profound effect on key regions of the brain’ according to two small recent studies and Professor Nutt’s team at Imperial College London could begin the first full clinical trial of magic mushrooms in 50 years by the end of the year. Pulse is unwilling to trawl through the red top tabloids for references to Professor Nutt as the Nutty Professor but is quietly confident that their headline writers won’t have let them down.

And finally, it seems the Government’s NHS reforms are neither appetising nor good for you. The Times (paywall) reports that the changes under the proposed health bill are a ‘distraction from an urgent cash crisis’ according to the House of Commons Health  Committee. According to the committee’s report, released today, the abolition of local health trusts and widespread redundancies of managers ‘continues to complicate the push for efficiency gains’.

Pulse reported last month that the Department of Health made ‘no apologies’ for these widespread redundancies, described by one PCT chair as ‘the biggest mess I’ve ever come across’.