Deer antler spray — a supplement commonly used in the fitness and sports industries that has a long history of use in Eastern medicine — is pretty much as strange as it sounds. Derived from the tissue found inside deer antlers, it’s reported to work by providing IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), a natural growth hormone found inside the human body that has potential to increase muscle mass and support recovery from injuries.
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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.
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.
From cave people to you and me. Deer antler is easily consumed as a nutritional source for over 2000 years of recorded history, and no doubt long prior to the written word. Old school energy for modern stress. Used as a trophy from hunters, deer antler has been used as a superfood high in unique protein that will strengthen tissues and increase resistance to physical stress. Later, you'll see more about how that has become science today.
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.