Velvet antler has been used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that classifies many similar substances from a variety of species under the simplified Chinese name 鹿茸; (pinyin Lu Rong) and the commercial name Cervi Cornu Pantorichum. The two common species used within the TCM system are sika deer and red deer which are thought to be useful for treating yang deficiency syndromes.
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Even sellers of deer antler products doubt that the products could deliver IGF-1. "IGF-1 is very unstable," Dean Nieves of Florida-based Bio Lab Naturals told the Baltimore Sun. "It could not exist outside of a very controlled environment." Nieves' company therefore markets the product as a nutritional supplement. "It is just packed with nutrients," he said.
Being a former collegiate athlete, I’m no stranger to working out. When a former teammate of mine started talking about this new, state of the art, health product and the effects he was getting from it, it peaked my interest needless to say. I remember him continually saying that I’d have to try it to believe what it does for you. Wow, I must now say that I know what he means (and then some)! First of all, this IGF-1 Plus™ Formula did have some impressive results for me in my workouts. It’s not only helped my strength, but it seems that I especially notice a difference in my joints and my recovery time. Since I lift with heavy weights, my joints used to ache after working out, but they no longer do! My endurance also has really improved as well. I’ve actually doubled the time and distance that I was doing before (and I’ve only been on it for a little over a month)! An unexpected (but much welcomed) improvement that has been incredible is in how clearly I’ve been able to think and I feel very little stress anymore. It almost like someone put a micro-computer chip in my brain that makes it work much more efficiently without trying nearly as hard. It’s one of those things that you have to try to really believe it (trust me, it has done much more than I expected it to). I look forward to turning a friend of mine on to it, since he’s a personal trainer and trains professional athletes! Thanks, Dr. Duarte. I plan to use your IGF-1 Plus™ from now on, and will stock up so I don’t run out!
S.W.A.T.S. Fitness and Performance was a dietary supplement company that sold deer antler spray and other products. The owners began distributing their products to NCAA and NFL athletes in 2008. The controversy initially started in March 30, 2009 when Alabama athletic officials sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company's owner that stated: "Refrain from using current student-athletes to endorse products. Refrain from contacting current student-athletes. Refrain from giving or selling products to current student-athletes."  The letter was then sent again in 2012.
Other uses include treatment of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, migraines, muscle aches and pains, asthma, indigestion, weak bones (osteoporosis), headache, liver and kidney disorders, cold hands and feet, soreness and weakness in the lower back and knees, chronic skin ulcers, and overactive bladder. It is also used to promote youthfulness, sharpen thinking skills, protect the liver from toxins, stimulate production and circulation of blood, and increase the number of red blood cells.
Deer antler velvet is supposed to help you build muscle. It allegedly elevates levels of IGF-1, an important hormone that helps you pack on mass. As “side effects” you also should see improvements in strength and endurance. And some products even claim it speeds recovery, which is why it was linked to Ray Lewis who earlier suffered an apparent season-ending injury, and yet has played and performed at a high level in the playoffs.
As this supplement is derived from 'deer', the two most commonly used species of deer in mainland China include the Sika deer Cervus nippon Temminck and Red Deer Cervus elaphus Linnaeus; these species may be relevant. 'Farming' of deers for antlers includes raising deer and sawing off the antlers under analgesia, the annual yeild appears to be 120-150 tonnes and deer are not usually killed as antlers are capable of full regeneration.
A systemic review on human interventions makes note of a study conducted on patients of osteoarthritis (Edelman et al. 2000; cannot be located online) which found improvements in joint pain symptoms relative to baseline in the Velvet Antler group and not placebo, although a lack of information on blinding and randomization precludes results that can be drawn from this study.