While Lentini admits sales have picked up, he says he's been hurt by the perception in the recent baseball letter, which told players that deer antler velvet could be contaminated with methyltestosterone, a banned steroid. The connection is based on the fact that David Vobora tested positive for the steroid after using antler spray. He won a $5.4 million judgment against the company that made the spray.
First, the facts: Deer antler has been a popular element of Eastern medicine for centuries. And—like red meat, eggs, or milk—deer antler contains small amounts of insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, explains Oliver Catlin, president of the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG), which tests dietary supplements for illegal performance enhancers.
An acute dose of 2,000mg/kg Deer Velvet Antler to rats (human equivalent dose of 320mg/kg) has failed to show toxic signs over 14 subsequent days of observation, and a 90 day trial with daily dosing of 1,000mg/kg did not show any significant toxicological symptoms of haemotological signs; a decrease in liver weight was noted in males, but under histological examination it appeared to be benign. Another rat toxicological study using 10% of the diet as Deer Velvet Antler during gestation and after birth noted that there were no apparent teratogenic effects on the rat pups and that serum AST (indicative of liver damage) was actually decreased 50% relative to control with no effect on γ-GT (another liver enzyme).
A study (Yudin and Dobyrakov, 1974) on the effect of deer antler velvet extract on the static load-bearing capacity of subjects found that those who took the extract increased the time of work by 2-4 seconds compared to the control group. In tests of dynamic work using a veloergometer, the subjects who took the extract increased the work output 4 to 5 times more than the control group.
According to modern research, deer antler velvet has shown gonadotropic activity. Studies by both Fisher and Wang indicate that deer antler velvet may increase testosterone levels in men and can help prevent some conditions associated with aging. The estrogen hormone most affected by deer antler velvet is estradiol. Estradiol is a precursor to testosterone.
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.