Deer velvet might have an effect due to the hormones it may contain, including testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone. Research in rats, using elk velvet antler, suggested the substance may have an androgen-like effect. The antlers are ground into powder, which people take by mouth. Dosage varies by brand, but a recent study used 215 mg per day. Some distributers, though, recommend dosages ranging from 250 mg to as high as 3000 mg (3 g) per day. So talk with your doctor before you start using deer velvet.
Most of the world's supply of velvet antler comes from Sika deer, red deer and elk or wapiti, including a large deer ranching industry in New Zealand. New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of velvet, producing 450-500 tons of red deer velvet antler annually.[1] China produces 400 tons of predominantly Sika deer velvet antler annually. Russia produces 80 tons annually. United States and Canada each produce 20 tons annually.[2]
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.
A systemic review on human interventions[25] 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.