In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVII we’ve heard a lot about deer antler velvet and the question of whether or not Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker Ray Lewis used an extract of it (in spray form) to help heal the triceps muscle he tore in October 2012. This could be a problem for Lewis, since deer antler velvet contains a substance that is banned by the National Football League (NFL).
In September, 2013, the headquarters of S.W.A.T.S. was raided and ordered to be shut down by Alabama's attorney general citing "numerous serious and willful violations of Alabama’s deceptive trade practices act". Among the violations were "claims that the company made about a number of products that were unsupported by scientific research. Some of these products were marketed as 'dietary supplements.'"  The assistant Alabama attorney general "says that Deer Antler Spray is dangerous and its sellers are law-breakers." 
Adaptogen: Adaptogens are natural metabolic regulators that increase a person’s ability to adapt to environmental factors-like pollution, smoke, stress, toxins etc. and to avoid damage from those factors. In other words, adaptogens literally help your body “adapt” to the environment without any side effects. If you’re living in the real world, with external or internal stressors, adaptogens help your body change in order to cope with the stressors.
No direct reports of chronic wasting disease (CWD) related to deer velvet supplementation have been published. However, several Web sites contain disclaimers mentioning the possibility of the disease being present in antler products. The CDC has not yet found a relationship between CWD and any neurological disease that affects humans with deer velvet use.
In rats undergoing left coronary artery ligation, those with heart failure were given either Velvet Antler (Deer) or Captopril as active control for 4 weeks with a third group given water. No significant changes in cardiac structure was noted with either Velvet Antlers or Captopril (with the heart tissue being enlarged after heart failure) although left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and fractional shortening (LVFS) appeared to be improved in both treatment groups to approximately the same degree and the increase in serum Brain Natiuretic Peptide (BNP) that occurred with heart failure was attenuated the same degree in both interventions.
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Unfortunately, the potential problems with IGF would seem to negate any of these theoretical benefits. It has been shown that improper use of hormones such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, and human growth hormone may increase the risk for development of prostate cancer or promote the growth of existing prostate cancer by raising IGF-1 levels. Therefore, men who are taking supplements with IGF in it (or those that raise IGF levels) could theoretically be putting themselves at an increased risk for prostate cancer. Again, it hasn’t been rigorously studied so it’s impossible to know for sure, but if you have any risk factors for prostate cancer, it’s probably best to avoid taking this supplement.
World harvest extends far and wide. The farming of deer species for their velvet antler has been occurring for a long time in China and Russia. The Asian industry raises a predominant amount of sika, aka. spotted deer, on private and communal farms where they are well cared for by private owners. Quality of a this profound botanical is of utmost importance. Farms in Asia it is also both industry and government regulated for quality, safety, and the welfare of the animals.
But when it comes to sprays or pills, there’s little evidence that deer antler offers performance enhancing benefits of any kind, says Alan Rogol, M.D., an endocrinologist at the University of Virginia. Rogol is also part of a small team of doctors that assists anti-doping agencies in determining if and when athletes can use certain controversial substances.
L-Arginine: An amino acid usually found in red meats that is important for the body’s ability to manufacture proteins. L-Arginine has been used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, blocked arteries, and erectile dysfunction. L-Arginine is safe for most people, however it should not be taken by women that are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Physical Vigor and Stamina: You don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate more energy and stamina. You may have long hours at the office, at home with kids, or at school, in training or partying. Without the energy you need to get through the day, nothing is fun-even the fun stuff. Unlike caffeine or energy boosting drinks which give you a temporary boost, Deer Antler Velvet changes you from the inside out, making increased vigor and stamina a part of your body’s natural response to the demands you place on it.
This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.
It is recently gaining popularity in the USA as seen with the deer antler spray controversy a couple years ago concerning several professional athletes. Oh yeah, I heard its a performance enhancer. They were consuming it for its natural growth factors, extracted via cold water, which are known to promote growth and regeneration capacities. Natural? Yes, and healthy. Where does this stuff come from?
The truth? While research is limited, there’s nothing to suggest that deer antler velvet (or deer antler spray in the supplement form) actually does what it claims. In fact, there are two published studies (in real scientific journals, you can see them here and here) that suggest deer antler velvet does not (I repeat, does not) even elicit a hormonal response. What’s more, it also did not increase muscular strength or aerobic power.
Indeed, within weeks you may begin to notice less extra weight around the waist and a firmer belly (a.k.a. a smaller "spare-tire").* We tell them, "That is because your hormones are working better and why you are looking and feeling better from all that hard work exercising." We get a spare-tire because our body gets tired, Your new thing to do with your nutrition and fitness program will remove that spare-tire and replace it with a lean and solid waist that you and others can be proud of.
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.
One study in men given 1.5g Velvet Antler for 11 weeks noted that intake of Velvet Antler was associated with a greater improvement in peak torque (30+/-21% more than baseline vs. placebo increasing 13+/-15%) and average power (21+/-19% vs. 7+/-12%) as assessed by leg extension; the authors noted that other parameters suggestive of power improvement (such as endocrine improvements or erythropoesis) did not occur and noted that replication is needed. The lack of aerobic improvement noted in this study is contrasted by another study using 2,700mg of Velvet Antler (two doses of 1,350mg daily for 10 weeks) which improved VO2 max by 9.8%, although this study had a remarkably high dropout rate of 44% which precludes conclusions that can be drawn.
On to the Deer Antler Spray and it’s positive effects this has had on my wife and I. Starting with me: In 2005 I had a titanium cage put into my L4-L5 lumbar region. My left leg was always numb and slept very little until a great neurosurgeon repaired it. Then 1 day I was on my 2 mile walk, and all of a sudden I felt this horrible left side pain. By that night my son, who was 16 at the time, said that my left side was all swelled up. It was hell all over again for me. I went to many doctors, stopped many in the halls of the University of Iowa Hospitals and asked if they could give me a tell. Of course none of them knew either. I was on hydrocodone for 4 years and also put on Lyrica. After hearing about Ray Lewis making this remarkable comeback from his tricep injury, which was really damaged and at his age should have retired, he came back for the playoffs. This blew me away because I also know much about sports injuries being I am an ex-athlete.
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.