Reports claim deer antler helped Ray Lewis overcome his recent triceps tear, and Vijay Singh has admitted to using a spray supplement. University of Alabama football players also allegedly used deer antler sprays leading up to the 2013 BCS National Title Game. Whether or not those reports are true, one thing is certain: There’s not much proof that deer antler is a performance enhancer or a miraculous healer.
The truth? While research is limited, there’s nothing to suggest that deer antler velvet (or deer antler spray in the supplement form) actually does what it claims. In fact, there are two published studies (in real scientific journals, you can see them here and here) that suggest deer antler velvet does not (I repeat, does not) even elicit a hormonal response. What’s more, it also did not increase muscular strength or aerobic power.
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.
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The movie The Raging Bull was inspired by the true life story of boxing legend and middle weight champion of the world, Jake Lamotta. He was known as the Raging Bull and the Bronx Bull. His character was depicted by Academy award winner Robert Deniro and went on to win 2 oscars under the direction of Martin Scorsese. Jake Lamotta was known as one of the toughest fighters in the world. He fought Sugar Ray Robinson 6 times in his career, the last fight being remembered as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
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.