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.
As men and women get older, they naturally start producing less Human Growth Hormone (HGH). So levels of IGF-1 also decline with age. The liver produces IGF-1 when HGH is released. HGH is converted to IGF-1. Aside from someone’s age, IGF-1 levels will vary depending on a person’s sex (men generally have more), level of activity, their diet, genetics and lifestyle.
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.