Deer antler velvet is used for its purported ability to raise testosterone levels to treat decreased libido (low sex drive), infertility, and erectile dysfunction in men. It is used in combination with other herbs to treat sexual dysfunction and hormonal dysfunction in men and women. It is used to treat conditions resulting from deficient kidneys. Some people use it because of its reputed benefit as an aphrodisiac and muscle strength enhancer. It is also sometimes prescribed to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in the treatment of morphine addiction.
First, the following disclaimer: Products that are sold as supplements (as opposed to medications) are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration so they are not tested for safety, efficacy or standardization. In other words, when you buy a supplement, there is no guarantee that what is in the bottle has been tested to see if it even contains the ingredient in question, let alone whether the ingredient actually does what it claims to. (That’s not a value judgment, just the facts.)
In a randomized, placebo controlled test in 2004, researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada, placed 18 males from the Edmonton Police Force into a 9 week strength training program. The results showed that deer antler velvet increased the strength and endurance of the subjects relative to the control group. The researchers found that use of deer antler velvet significantly increased blood plasma testosterone levels.
Deer antler spray products are not cheap. Expect that buying a high-quality product will set you back about $60–$100 per bottle. When taken as directed, each bottle should last you about one month. You don’t need to refrigerate the spray. However, keep it away from very hot temperatures to preserve the chemical composition of the product. Manufacturers claim that you can start experiencing benefits within 3–4 days. However, results definitely differ from one person to the next.
Assuming that deer antler velvet is the next biggest thing in muscle building and athletics isn’t just a massive leap of faith, it’s something that can’t be supported by science in any way, shape, or form. So why is it illegal? Because it’s still a synthetic, man-made growth hormone precursor. Those are illegal, according to most professional sports.
In a study on diabetic mice given topical wounds (scalpel and scissors to create a cricle; diabetes tends to reduce wound healing rates and thus diabetic rats are a good research model for wound closure rates) where either a control cream or one containing 400mcg Velvet Antler (Elk; water soluble extract) noted that there was less angiogenesis and a trend towards less inflammation assocaited with Velvet Antler cream while on day 7 wounds treated with the Antler cream were significantly smaller than control. One 3.2kDa protein has been noted to possess wound healing properties, which are dose-dependent and have been noted to improve wound healing induced by burns at 0.05-0.1% of solution and in vitro at 10-40mcg/mL.
Research has been conducted on the potential use of deer antler velvet for healing of wounds. In Russia (Arapov, 1969), Pantocrin was administered to patients with surgical and internal wounds. The study reported that there were a number of positive effects, including the normalization of arterial pressure, reduction in surgical complications, and becoming active quicker. In tests on rats (Wang, 1985), bone fracture repair was accelerated. A recent study by Bubenik found that antler helped heal epidermal wounds in rats. In another study by Takikawa, et al., researchers reported observing new bone formation following experimental whiplash injuries in rabbits. Pretreatment in rats reduced cell degradation and improved recovery times from extreme temperature and electric shock exposure.