Research has been conducted on the potential use of deer antler velvet for healing of wounds. In Russia (Arapov, 1969), Pantocrin was administered to patients with surgical and internal wounds. The study reported that there were a number of positive effects, including the normalization of arterial pressure, reduction in surgical complications, and becoming active quicker. In tests on rats (Wang, 1985), bone fracture repair was accelerated. A recent study by Bubenik found that antler helped heal epidermal wounds in rats. In another study by Takikawa, et al., researchers reported observing new bone formation following experimental whiplash injuries in rabbits. Pretreatment in rats reduced cell degradation and improved recovery times from extreme temperature and electric shock exposure.
Bottom line: Rogol says it’s “extremely unlikely” that deer antler in any form could offer athletes a boost. “Deer antlers do contain growth factors,” he explains. But it’s a huge leap of faith to talk about an extract doing anything beneficial for human beings, whether it’s slowing aging, developing muscle, or repairing tendons, he adds. Opinions like Rogol’s are one reason the FDA and anti-doping agencies haven’t yet taken steps to ban deer antler products that contain IGF-1.
Deer antler spray — a supplement commonly used in the fitness and sports industries that has a long history of use in Eastern medicine — is pretty much as strange as it sounds. Derived from the tissue found inside deer antlers, it’s reported to work by providing IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), a natural growth hormone found inside the human body that has potential to increase muscle mass and support recovery from injuries.
Deer Antler Velvet Extract: This moss-like substance has been used in Chinese medicine for years and is thought to contain a number of compounds that can help with tissue regeneration and repair. The antlers are removed safely and without harm to the animal, and the velvet is thought to have applications for improving circulation, strengthening bone density, and improving male libido. There is very little clinical data regarding the effects of deer velvet, and not much is known about its side effects. Some conditions that may potentially be related to deer antler velvet include:
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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.