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).
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When antlers fall off, they leave wounds that heal quickly, without forming a scar. Researchers have found that velvet antler contains substances that encourage healing, and could be of use to humans. Of particular interest are 3 hormones known to promote growth of skin tissue: insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). In a recent study, an ointment made from velvet antler, containing these compounds, enhanced healing when applied to the skin of rats. IGF-1 was a hot topic in the media in the winter of 2013 when a football player, Ray Lewis, was accused of using a banned spray containing IGF-1.
Strength and Bodybuilding: If you’re already a bodybuilder Deer Antler Velvet is as much a part of what the sport is about as protein drinks and workouts. The reason muscles get bigger, harder and stronger is because weight training and bodybuilding tears them down through a micro shredding of the fibers-and then builds them back up. Deer Antler Velvet has been proven in scientific studies to promote faster healing, faster tissue growth, faster nerve tissue, cartilage and muscle repair. You don’t change your workout. You just heal faster and better after each workout.
Even more intriguing is how the stags manage to regrow their antlers. Scientists have found stem cells at the bases of antlers’essentially ‘blank’ cells that can develop into many different types of cell, such as a skin cell or a cartilage cell. If they could find out what triggers the stem cells and controls their development into antlers, the knowledge could be applied to the regeneration of human limbs and organs. Scientists know that the shedding is initiated by a fall in the hormone testosterone, a change linked to an increase in day length, and they think oestrogen may be a key cellular regulator. However, much more research on a molecular level is required to unravel what is clearly an intricate process.
Deer antler velvet can help slow the aging process and possibly even increase longevity due to the IGF-1 present in deer antler velvet. Aging occurs because our DNA becomes damaged throughout our lives and the damages accumulate over time. The damaged nuclear DNA can either directly cause the aging process by increasing cell dysfunction or it can indirectly cause the aging process by increasing programmed cell death (apoptosis) or increasing the number of cells which are unable to divide any further (cell senescence).
Even sellers of deer antler products doubt that the products could deliver IGF-1. "IGF-1 is very unstable," Dean Nieves of Florida-based Bio Lab Naturals told the Baltimore Sun. "It could not exist outside of a very controlled environment." Nieves' company therefore markets the product as a nutritional supplement. "It is just packed with nutrients," he said.
According to an article in Sports Illustrated, Lewis spoke by telephone after his injury with Mitch Ross, co-owner of the supplement company S.W.A.T.S. (Sports with Alternatives to Steroids) to ask about treatments that could speed his recovery. Sports Illustrated reported that among Ross’ recommendations were deer antler pills to “rebuild your brain via your small intestines.” In addition to recommending the pills, Ross reportedly also told Lewis to spray deer antler extract under his tongue. Lewis has denied following this advice, and Ravens’ management has said that the star player has never flunked a drug test.
Speed Exercise Recovery - Depends which way you look at, but in general it really depends on why you would need it. If you think this works like synthetic anabolics that helps you recover quicker and train more you are grossly mistaken. But if you have joint issues, or desire the benefits of increased blood flow assisting and conversion in the liver, or need a boost to tissue regeneration than this is smarter thinking on your part.
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. 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.
A 2015 study published in Evidenced Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine fed mice a diet containing 10 percent elk velvet extract (EVA) to test its effects on physical growth and bone development. Researchers measured the mice’s body weights, blood chemistry, kidney and testis/ovary functions, and bone traits weekly. They found that “Mean body weights were higher in the EVA group at 4–8 weeks in males, and at 5 weeks of age in females.” The mice fed EVA also experienced changes in kidney function and increased femoral bone length by 5 weeks old. Levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP) increased in EVA group.
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.
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.
As men and women get older, they naturally start producing less Human Growth Hormone (HGH). So levels of IGF-1 also decline with age. The liver produces IGF-1 when HGH is released. HGH is converted to IGF-1. Aside from someone’s age, IGF-1 levels will vary depending on a person’s sex (men generally have more), level of activity, their diet, genetics and lifestyle.
Currently, one study that induced a fracture unto a rat bone and injected 20mg/kg of Velvet Antler polypeptides into the area every other day for 7 weeks noted that fracture healing rate was dose-dependently increased at weeks 4-7 relative to control and that the bone loading weight was increased following rehabilitation with 10mg/kg (60.7%) and 20mg/kg (93% more than control) after 7 weeks. An in vitro study suggested that this was due to a concentration-dependent mitogenic activity on osteoblastic precursors and chondrocytes.
After about 55-60 days of growth the velvet antler is removed painlessly from the deer in less than 60 seconds so that it may be done as humanely as possible. These deer are not harmed and experience no pain in the removal of their velvet antlers for our consumption. The antler is then scraped of its fuzzy velvet and then cleaned before it is sanitized and pasteurized for safety, and then inspected for quality grading.
Russian bodybuilders have claimed to benefit from deer antler velvet by increasing muscle and nerve strength in the late 1960’s. Earlier studies found similar results in laboratory animals and athletes given pantocrin, an extract of deer antler velvet. Several studies show a positive correlation between consistent use of deer antler velvet and cardiovascular health. Human subjects who used deer antler velvet were able to endure larger work loads and experienced a shorter recovery time between exercises.
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?
“Nutronics Labs Deer Antler Spray is an incredible product. After just a few days of using it, I noticed a significant decrease in the chronic knee arthritis pain I’ve suffered from for many, many years due to dancing and sports injuries. As an added bonus, my ENTIRE body suddenly felt lighter, and generally pain free…it wasn’t until taking the product that I realized most of my joints had been stiff and achey. I had been living in pain for years without even realizing it, having become accustomed to being constantly uncomfortable and sore. I was able to work out harder, recover faster, and noticed significantly increased flexibility and overall mobility. I noticed substantial improvement in muscle tone.
Researchers believe that the imbalance between cartilage erosion and regeneration in osteoarthritis suffers is caused by a lack of glycosaminoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans play a vital role in the structural integrity of cartilage. The compound appears to inhibit enzymes that deplete cartilage nutrition. Chondroitin sulfate molecules are long chains of sugars and sulfur that create tiny spaces filled with fluid. These spaces protect and cushion joints.
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Deer antler velvet is the tissue that covers the bone and cartilage that develop into deer (and elk) antlers. It has been harvested for centuries and used traditionally to increase strength, boost the immune system, and counter the effects of stress. Now it’s promoted to improve athletic performance; raise testosterone levels to increase sex drive, fertility and erectile function in men; as well as to reduce the signs of aging and treat problems ranging from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma and osteoporosis to migraine headaches, indigestion, and many more.