In 1989, fitness expert John Abdo, who trained numerous Olympic and world class athletes, visited the Institute of Physical Culture in Moscow to investigate Russian training routines. At that time, Russian athletes underwent a dramatic increase in the success in weightlifting competitions. John met with former Soviet weight-lifting champion Victor Sheynkin and training expert Yuri Verhoshansky. John learned that their athletes had experienced considerable improvement in performance with deer antler velvet. Dr Arkady Koltun, Chaiman of the Medical Committee for the Russian Bodybuilding Federation, and an expert on anabolic agents confirmed that deer antler velvet increases muscular strength and speeds recovery after exercise.
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I know of no scientific evidence to support any of the marketing claims made for these supplements. I discussed your question with Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements and women’s health, and an authority on botanical medicine. She explains that IGF-1 in the velvet promotes rapid growth of the antler. Dr. Low Dog notes that the two studies examining the effects of deer antler velvet supplements taken by athletes have yielded conflicting results. One showed some improvements in endurance and knee strength in weightlifters, but the other found no differences in rowers after 10 weeks of supplementation.
More recent tests (Slievert, 2003) confirm deer antler velvet’s effects on muscle strength and endurance. In a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled experiment, 18 males entered a 10 week strength training program. Those who took deer antler velvet showed an increase in maximal aerobic capacity, an increase in strength in the bench press and leg squat, and decrease in body fat relative to the placebo group.
Endurance athletes have shown increases in red blood cell count and greater aerobic capacities, but this benefit takes time to ripen. More energy for you. But we need a certain amount to get real results, more on dosage below. Many receive metabolic benefits that increase overall energy and well-being. A specific group of those who supplement with our extract prefer it as a natural alternative.
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.
Deer antlers are the only mammalian bone structures to regenerate completely every year.1 Deer antler velvet is the epidermis covering the inner structure of the growing bone and cartilage, which develops into antlers.2 This tissue grows each spring on male Cervus sp. (North American elk and red deer) and should be removed by a veterinarian or certified farmer. The ethics, including use of local anesthetics, and procedures of harvesting antler velvet have been reported.3, 4, 5, 6 Velvet yield depends on several factors, including season, parasites, or injury.7 After removal of the deer velvet, it is collected and then frozen or dried prior to its manufacture into various "medicinal" forms including powders, extracts, teas, capsules, and tablets. Each part of elk velvet contains varying compounds, but the deer antler velvet contains the largest concentrations of those found to be beneficial. (Antler also has been sold by the slice). Heating during processing may reduce or destroy the purported beneficial effects of velvet antler. Various preparation methods, including freeze-drying and non-heat-producing methods have been reported.8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
The IGF-1 in deer antler velvet can help increase the body's natural healing by affecting cell repair and growth. When an injury or surgery occurs that leaves a wound on the body, the wound is healed naturally by the cells which line the wound. Those cells multiply and rejoin over time. Using deer antler velvet can help promote faster cell repair and growth so that the wound can heal at a faster rate which means less time being injured or sore.
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).
IGF-1 is currently on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list due to how it gives athletes an unfair advantage in terms of building strength and muscle mass. (7) However, it’s still legal to use supplements that may provide IGF-1 or similar effects. Most of the studies that show positive results from using deer antler supplements have used high doses. And some have tested the product on animals (mice or rats) rather than humans.
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.
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.
The latest and greatest performance enhancer, if you've been living under a rock, is deer antler velvet. On the surface, it seems like it could make sense. The coating on the antlers of young male deer that contribute to the growth of that part of their body could help athletes. First, the NFL prohibited Oakland Raiders coach Hue Jackson from endorsing it. Now, according to SI.com, Major League Baseball is warning players about using it.
Deer antler velvet has been used in China for over 2,000 years. More recently, Soviet scientists in the 1980s tested the effects of deer antler velvet on the performance of elite Russian athletes, and the results were astonishing. Deer antler velvet helped increase the strength and muscle mass of Russian athletes, and speed their recovery time from exercise.
Yes, the Soviets had even been involved in extensive research to ascertain the performance benefits of deer antler velvet. But they've been using it for awhile. In their country it was known in Russian folk use to be a warming and vitalizing food several hundred years ago, but with the advent of modern history, they began research nearly 90 years ago.
Other studies reported an increase in heart strength and volume of blood pumped, while cardiac output, heart rate, mean arterial pressure, pulse pressure, central venous pressure and other parameters remained unchanged. Researchers suggest that the polysaccharides in antler may reduce the blood’s tendency to clot, improving circulation, decreasing stroke risk and boosting general cardiovascular health. Researchers theorize that the deer antler velvet may improve blood supply to muscles or act as an anti-inflammatory, allowing athletes to recover faster from training sessions.