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).
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.
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The word antler is derived from the Latin Anteoculae, meaning "in front of the eyes." Antlers are present in almost all members of the deer family Cervidae. The first documented evidence of deer velvet as a medicinal was found on a scroll recovered from a tomb in Hunan China dating back 2000 years. The use of antler dates back to the Han Dynasty 206 BC to 220 AD. A 16th century medical text, Pen Ts'ao Kang Mu, lists several antler preparations including pills, tinctures, and ointments. In traditional Chinese medicine, velvet antler has been used for over 2000 years as a tonic, to improve bone health, to nourish the blood, reduce swelling, and to treat impotence. Later research on deer antler dates back to the 1980s in Russia. Hundreds of articles have since been published including those documented by Chinese, Korean, and Japanese scientists.14, 15
Research in Korea, New Zealand and China has shown that deer antler velvet can stimulate the immune system. Extracts of deer antler velvet were variously shown to increase macrophage activity, stimulate the production of lymphocytes and increase the number of red and white blood cells. Each of these effects may directly complement the body’s ability to resist or fight disease and so promote and maintain health and an associated feeling of well being.
From cave people to you and me. Deer antler is easily consumed as a nutritional source for over 2000 years of recorded history, and no doubt long prior to the written word. Old school energy for modern stress. Used as a trophy from hunters, deer antler has been used as a superfood high in unique protein that will strengthen tissues and increase resistance to physical stress. Later, you'll see more about how that has become science today.
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.
Deer antler Velvet Spray – the name is already quite intriguing. This may have caught the attention of those who’ve come across the spray. And when some of them saw that this covers joint care, then those who suffer from regular pains must have wanted to try it out. And like its name, the main component comes from powdered deer antlers. This may shock some consumers, but if you will visit the website, you’ll find that the manufacturers ensure that no animals are harmed.
Deer antler velvet is supposed to help you build muscle. It allegedly elevates levels of IGF-1, an important hormone that helps you pack on mass. As “side effects” you also should see improvements in strength and endurance. And some products even claim it speeds recovery, which is why it was linked to Ray Lewis who earlier suffered an apparent season-ending injury, and yet has played and performed at a high level in the playoffs.

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Performance - Borrowing the scientific research, its mandatory use by the Soviets has shown increased blood circulatory benefits, liver protective attributes and nerve strengthening effects of the aqueous alcohol extract.* This means it increases nervous innervation, easily known as the contractile capacity of muscle groups.* This leads to short burst style athletic performance increases found in weightlifting, bodybuilding, and similar sports.*
World harvest extends far and wide. The farming of deer species for their velvet antler has been occurring for a long time in China and Russia. The Asian industry raises a predominant amount of sika, aka. spotted deer, on private and communal farms where they are well cared for by private owners. Quality of a this profound botanical is of utmost importance. Farms in Asia it is also both industry and government regulated for quality, safety, and the welfare of the animals.

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Data is limited. Two studies (n=40 and 168) investigating the efficacy of elk velvet antler supplementation on rheumatoid arthritis found no effect, while a study conducted in people with osteoarthritis (n=53) reported symptomatic relief among participants. The small sample sizes may result in the trials being underpowered to detect effects.25, 28, 29

All groups experienced a significant improvement in strength. But the deer antler powder group showed the greatest increase in isokinetic knee extensor strength and endurance. However, it’s possible that this was due to exercise program rather than using the deer antler powder. None of the men in any group showed evidence of endocrine, red cell mass or VO2max changes. Therefore, researchers concluded that the “findings do not support an erythropoetic or aerobic ergogenic effect of deer antler velvet.” (12) On the other hand, this was a small study, with only 12-13 men in each group. This means that further testing is needed to confirm the validity of the results.


People with osteoarthritis take chondroitin sulphate as an anti-inflammatory and velvet antler contains a high concentration of this compound, as well as significant amounts of glucosamine sulphate. Both appear to inhibit the depletion of bone and cartilage. The use of velvet antler in treating rheumatoid arthritis is being studied at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta.
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Deer antler spray is a supplement. It’s made from the immature tissues surrounding bone and cartilage found inside the tips of live deer antlers. The antlers naturally contain IGF-1. This helps them to grow rapidly. The tissue is taken from the deer antlers before they fully grow and harden. Then it’s flash-frozen to make supplements. (3) Farmed North American elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) and the European red deer (Cervus elaphus) are the main sources of antler for commercial use. The animals are not harmed in the process of extracting the substance from their antlers. Deer antler products are found in pill, powder or spray forms.
One study[14] (duplicated in Medline[15]) that used a water extract of Velvet Antler at 50-200mg/kg failed to inhibit the pain killing effect of Morphine yet reduced the rate at which rats became tolerant to Morphine over the course of 6 days when taken an hour prior to Morphine each day.[14] Rats who were given Velvet Antler prior to Morphine also experienced 26.6-36.6% less withdrawal (dose-dependent) and reduced reverse tolerance and dopamine receptor supersensitivity relative to morphine control.[14]
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Assuming that deer antler velvet is the next biggest thing in muscle building and athletics isn’t just a massive leap of faith, it’s something that can’t be supported by science in any way, shape, or form. So why is it illegal? Because it’s still a synthetic, man-made growth hormone precursor. Those are illegal, according to most professional sports.


An acute dose of 2,000mg/kg Deer Velvet Antler to rats (human equivalent dose of 320mg/kg) has failed to show toxic signs over 14 subsequent days of observation, and a 90 day trial with daily dosing of 1,000mg/kg did not show any significant toxicological symptoms of haemotological signs; a decrease in liver weight was noted in males, but under histological examination it appeared to be benign.[38] Another rat toxicological study using 10% of the diet as Deer Velvet Antler during gestation and after birth noted that there were no apparent teratogenic effects on the rat pups and that serum AST (indicative of liver damage) was actually decreased 50% relative to control with no effect on γ-GT (another liver enzyme).[30]
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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Fat Metabolism* -Besides containing a plethora of nutrition, such as peptides, growth factors and important minerals, which may help to prevent cravings, deer antler velvet also contains ursolic acid, which may be beneficial for increasing fat metabolism, we can, with a little effort and motivational boost, achieve a leaner and firmer physique.* Additionally, research in other fields suggests that it may be responsible for a smaller waist.*
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Deer antler, or more specifically ‘velvet antler”which refers to the soft, newly grown antler before it hardens, not just the velvet skin’has been used in Chinese medicine for 2000 years. Often prescribed as a tonic, it is reputed to boost the immune system, improve stamina and reduce swelling. It is also prescribed to promote wound healing and strengthen bones and said to be an aphrodisiac and to enhance fertility. In China, velvet antler is seen as second only to ginseng in its restorative powers.

S.W.A.T.S. Fitness and Performance was a dietary supplement company that sold deer antler spray and other products. The owners began distributing their products to NCAA and NFL athletes in 2008.[19] The controversy initially started in March 30, 2009 when Alabama athletic officials sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company's owner that stated: "Refrain from using current student-athletes to endorse products. Refrain from contacting current student-athletes. Refrain from giving or selling products to current student-athletes." [25] The letter was then sent again in 2012.[26]

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.
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
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