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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).
A growing trend in western medicine is the proliferation of influences from ancient eastern medicine. Over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese were administering deer antler velvet to treat conditions ranging from serious illnesses to lack of sexual desire. After closely examining the wide range of health benefits deer antler velvet promotes, it's no wonder why the Chinese used it as a medicine for thousands of years.
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.
Velvet antler is the whole cartilaginous antler in a precalcified growth stage of the Cervidae family including the species of deer, elk, moose and caribou. Velvet antler is covered in a hairy, velvet-like "skin" known as velvet and its tines are rounded, because the antler has not calcified or finished developing. Velvet antler preparations are sold in China as part of Traditional Chinese medicine, and in the United States and some other countries as a dietary supplement.
"Unlike steroids, which are small, cholesterol-based hormones, protein-based hormones or growth factors can easily be destroyed," he wrote in an email. Cohen guesses that even if you consume high levels of IGF-1, most if not all of the substance would be destroyed after hitting the acid in our stomach and before entering the blood system, which is how compounds we ingest reach the muscles. "This is also why you have to inject insulin instead of just eating insulin pills," he added.
Deer antler velvet has made its way into the spotlight recently thanks to claims that Super Bowl winner Ray Lewis used it in spray form to recover from his October triceps injury. Lewis denied the claim, but had many people wondering if deer antler velvet, a substance that is banned by the NFL and claims to increase strength and boost muscle recovery, really works. The natural supplement, made from the fuzz that covers male deer antlers, is a growth hormone known as IGF-1, which supposedly can repair cartilege damage and increase strength and muscle mass.
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In another randomized, double blind, placebo controlled experiment (Broeder, 2004), 38 males, all of whom were experienced weightlifters, entered a 10 week strength training program. Those who took deer antler velvet experienced an increase in peak torque and average power relative to the placebo group. They also experienced unexpected improvements in aerobic performance.
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One study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found evidence that use of deer velvet antler may help strengthen joints and bones, reducing symptoms like joint pain associated with osteoarthritis. (10) After rats with osteoarthritic symptoms were given total velvet antler polypeptides from red deer (TVAPL) for 12 weeks, they showed signs of significant reversal in osteoporosis. The researchers found improvements in the rats’ bone weight coefficient (BWC), bone mineral density (BMD), and bone mineral content (BMC). They believe these effects were due to proliferation of cartilage and osteoblast-like cells, in addition to reductions in inflammation due to inhibition of interleukin-1 (IL-1).
Deer antler velvet may help to increase macrophage activity. Macrophages are a type of white blood cell (immunity cell) that digests cellular debris, foreign substances, cancer cells, and other microorganisms. Macrophages help to stimulate defense mechanisms in the body by recruiting immune cells such as lymphocytes. With this increased number of white blood cells, your immunity system becomes strengthened and will have a better chance at fighting off a sickness or infection.
There must be a reason to is use and a booming world industry that garners the attention of several researchers and scientist in many countries. Modern understanding has greatly advanced our knowledge of velvet antler. We know by its composition and the knowledge of the structure and function of the plenitude of constituents which work together, like a symphony, to create an efficacious supplement that yields a multitude of benefits.
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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.