Deer velvet might have an effect due to the hormones it may contain, including testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone. Research in rats, using elk velvet antler, suggested the substance may have an androgen-like effect. The antlers are ground into powder, which people take by mouth. Dosage varies by brand, but a recent study used 215 mg per day. Some distributers, though, recommend dosages ranging from 250 mg to as high as 3000 mg (3 g) per day. So talk with your doctor before you start using deer velvet.
A 2014 study published in Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine tested whether or not deer antler extract would have an effect on fatigue in mice who were led to swim distances. The findings suggested that deer antler “might increase the muscle strength through the upregulation of genes responsible for muscle contraction and consequently exhibited the anti-fatigue effect in mice.” Deer antler seems to have a positive effect on genes involved in nine different signaling pathways that affect muscles, endurance and fatigue. These include GnRH signaling pathway and insulin signaling pathways, in addition to levels of troponins. (8) Deer antler may contribute to increases in muscle strength by increasing Tpm2 expression. This affects how muscles take up proteins and repair themselves. Other studies show some evidence that deer antler extract helps prevent muscle fatigue by activating the lactate dehydrogenase activities and reducing the levels of blood lactic acid and serum urea nitrogen.
In an ovalbumin sensitized mouse model, 4 weeks of Velvet Antler at 2.5-10mg total (weight of mice not given, assuming 20g this equals 125-500mg/kg or 10-40mg/kg for humans) was able to reduce total Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and Ovalbumin-specific IgE at 14, 21, and 28 days. When challenged with methacholine and subsequently having their airway power measured, it appeared that Velvet Antler exert anti-asthmatic effects in regards to allergies.
Bottom line: Rogol says it’s “extremely unlikely” that deer antler in any form could offer athletes a boost. “Deer antlers do contain growth factors,” he explains. But it’s a huge leap of faith to talk about an extract doing anything beneficial for human beings, whether it’s slowing aging, developing muscle, or repairing tendons, he adds. Opinions like Rogol’s are one reason the FDA and anti-doping agencies haven’t yet taken steps to ban deer antler products that contain IGF-1.
Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.
Currently, IGF-1 is banned by both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, deer antler spray seems to provide only very small amounts of IGF-1. This is why it’s no longer considered illegal. Insulin-like growth factor is also naturally found in other animal-derived foods, including eggs, milk and red meat. Some experts believe that the amount of IGF-1 obtained from using deer antler products is really not much more than from eating these foods.
In Asia, velvet antler is dried and sold as slices, or as a powder which may be boiled in water, usually with other herbs and ingredients, and consumed as a medicinal soup. In the traditional commercial trade of Korea and China, whole stick antler velvet is divided into three sections based upon their supposed properties. Although there is an absence of uniform standardization, these sections are known as the wax piece (uppers or tips), the blood piece (middles), and the bone piece (bottoms): the wax piece may be marketed as a growth tonic for children, the blood piece supposedly for joint and bone health, and the bone piece supposedly for calcium deficiency and geriatric needs. Early commercial activity in Russia between the 1930s and 1980s led to the production of an alcohol extract from deer antler velvet marketed under the Russian drug trade name Pantocrin (also pantocrine or pantokrin).