One double-blind study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism tested whether or not deer antler velvet powder or extract had an impact on aerobic performance, endurance and “trainability of muscular strength” compared to a placebo. The subjects were adult males. They were given either a placebo, or deer antler extract or powder supplementation over a 10-week period while undergoing a strength-building routine. The men were measured for muscular strength, endurance, and VO2max before and after using deer antler. These results were determined by measuring circulating levels of testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, erythropoietin, red cell mass, plasma volume, and total blood volume.
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.
Elk velvet antlers have been shown to contain chondroitin sulfate. This has a growth-promoting effect on cells throughout the body, which helps with recovery. This includes cells in the gut. It is believed that cartilage proteoglycans regulate water retention and differentiation and proliferation of chondrocytes inside cartilage tissue. Four types of collagen (I, II, III, and X) have also been identified in deer antlers. The collagen may provide benefits including rebuilding damaged parts of the GI tract, skin and joints. This might be beneficial for preventing or helping to treat leaky gut syndrome, which contributes to widespread symptoms.
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.
Studies have found that deer antlers themselves contain a highly concentrated amount of essential trace minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and growth factors that can all support the immune system. This includes the gastrointestinal tract, where the majority of the immune system is found. Antlers contain minerals such as: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, potassium and sodium in addition to numerous minor components.
In Asia, velvet antler is dried and sold as slices, or as a powder which may be boiled in water, usually with other herbs and ingredients, and consumed as a medicinal soup. In the traditional commercial trade of Korea and China, whole stick antler velvet is divided into three sections based upon their supposed properties. Although there is an absence of uniform standardization, these sections are known as the wax piece (uppers or tips), the blood piece (middles), and the bone piece (bottoms): the wax piece may be marketed as a growth tonic for children, the blood piece supposedly for joint and bone health, and the bone piece supposedly for calcium deficiency and geriatric needs. Early commercial activity in Russia between the 1930s and 1980s led to the production of an alcohol extract from deer antler velvet marketed under the Russian drug trade name Pantocrin (also pantocrine or pantokrin).