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.
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.
However, calcium and phosphorus levels (which are important for bone growth) did not differ among groups. Overall, the researchers concluded that “our results seem to support a role for dietary supplementation of EVA on growth and bone development in this model.” (9) However, it’s important to point out that this is a very high dose. It’s significantly above what most would take in supplement form.
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).
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.