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Deer velvet might have an effect due to the hormones it may contain, including testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone. Research in rats, using elk velvet antler, suggested the substance may have an androgen-like effect. The antlers are ground into powder, which people take by mouth. Dosage varies by brand, but a recent study used 215 mg per day. Some distributers, though, recommend dosages ranging from 250 mg to as high as 3000 mg (3 g) per day. So talk with your doctor before you start using deer velvet.
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.
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Deer antlers are the only mammalian bone structures to regenerate completely every year.1 Deer antler velvet is the epidermis covering the inner structure of the growing bone and cartilage, which develops into antlers.2 This tissue grows each spring on male Cervus sp. (North American elk and red deer) and should be removed by a veterinarian or certified farmer. The ethics, including use of local anesthetics, and procedures of harvesting antler velvet have been reported.3, 4, 5, 6 Velvet yield depends on several factors, including season, parasites, or injury.7 After removal of the deer velvet, it is collected and then frozen or dried prior to its manufacture into various "medicinal" forms including powders, extracts, teas, capsules, and tablets. Each part of elk velvet contains varying compounds, but the deer antler velvet contains the largest concentrations of those found to be beneficial. (Antler also has been sold by the slice). Heating during processing may reduce or destroy the purported beneficial effects of velvet antler. Various preparation methods, including freeze-drying and non-heat-producing methods have been reported.8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
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.
While Lentini admits sales have picked up, he says he's been hurt by the perception in the recent baseball letter, which told players that deer antler velvet could be contaminated with methyltestosterone, a banned steroid. The connection is based on the fact that David Vobora tested positive for the steroid after using antler spray. He won a $5.4 million judgment against the company that made the spray.
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Currently, one study that induced a fracture unto a rat bone and injected 20mg/kg of Velvet Antler polypeptides into the area every other day for 7 weeks noted that fracture healing rate was dose-dependently increased at weeks 4-7 relative to control and that the bone loading weight was increased following rehabilitation with 10mg/kg (60.7%) and 20mg/kg (93% more than control) after 7 weeks. An in vitro study suggested that this was due to a concentration-dependent mitogenic activity on osteoblastic precursors and chondrocytes.
An ethanolic extract has been noted to, following oral ingestion of 100mg/kg, suppress nitric oxide secretion from peritoneal macrophages while stimulating phagocytic activity secondary to calcium mobilization, and has been noted to increase macrophage cell count in a concentration dependent manner up to 171.5% at 150mcg/mL with a water extract (and 132.4% for splenocytes). This immunostimulation appears to be related to phosphatidylcholine molecules with saturated fatty acid acyl chains and is thought to underlie an anti-infective effect in mice infected with Staphylococcus aureus when Velvet Antler is ingested at 500mg/kg.