The IGF-1 found in deer antler spray is derived from deer antler velvet, the tissue found inside the deer's antlers before they fully harden. Since deer antlers grow incredibly fast, it is not surprising that the horns are rich in IGF-1. This is a naturally-occurring form of IGF-1, meaning it is not made in a lab. As a result, deer antler velvet is considered a dietary supplement by the Food and Drug Administration, and unlike synthesized drugs, the product does have to be proven safe or effective before it's sold to the public.
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.
In a double blind study (Edelman, 2000), 54 patients with arthritis in the knee were given deer antler velvet or a placebo and assessed at 1, 3 and 6 months. Patients treated with deer antler velvet showed improvement in pain and physical global assessment at 3 and 6 months. No significant improvement was observed for the placebo group for any of the parameters examined.
First, the facts: Deer antler has been a popular element of Eastern medicine for centuries. And—like red meat, eggs, or milk—deer antler contains small amounts of insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, explains Oliver Catlin, president of the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG), which tests dietary supplements for illegal performance enhancers.
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One study (duplicated in Medline) 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. 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.
One of the leading companies in the world that manufacturers deer antler spray is called Nutronics Labs. According to information posted on their website, they have been making deer antler supplements for two decades. They state that their deer antler products range in concentration/strength from about 25,000ng (nanograms)–200,000ng of IGF-1. According to studies done by Nutronics Labs, deer antler powders appear to be less concentrated with IGF-1. They also may be poorly absorbed compared to deer antler extract.
To determine the effects of deer antler velvet on maximal aerobic performance and the trainability of muscular strength and endurance, 38 active males were randomly assigned in a double-blind fashion to either deer antler velvet extract (n = 12), powder (n = 13), or placebo groups (n = 13). Subjects were tested prior to beginning supplementation and a 10-week strength program, and immediately post-training. All subjects were measured for circulating levels of testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, erythropoietin, red cell mass, plasma volume, and total blood volume. Additionally, muscular strength, endurance, and VO2max were determined. All groups improved 6 RM strength equivalently (41 +/- 26%, p < .001), but there was a greater increase in isokinetic knee extensor strength (30 +/- 21% vs. 13 +/- 15%, p = .04) and endurance (21 +/- 19% vs. 7 +/- 12%, p = .02) in the powder compared to placebo group. There were no endocrine, red cell mass or VO2max changes in any group. These findings do not support an erythropoetic or aerobic ergogenic effect of deer antler velvet. Further, the inconsistent findings regarding the effects of deer antler velvet powder supplementation on the development of strength suggests that further work is required to test the robustness of the observation that this supplement enhances the strength training response and to ensure this observation is not a type I error.
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
Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) is an anabolic molecule which appears to induce growth of the antlers themselves, although testosterone may be the primary growth factor. Currently, there is no evidence that serum IGF-1 is increased following Velvet Antler ingestion with one study using 1.5g of Velvet Antler for 11 weeks failing to increase serum IGF-1.
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Raise Only Male Hormones* - Seriously, what if you are a woman? This is once again incorrect as it does not directly raise only male hormones for a majority of the population, especially women. But if you have a lagging gladular system due to overwhelming stress and fatigue than the adaptogen capabilities may allow your lagging glandular system to function more appropriately, hence you may correct for proper hormone functioning.*
Russian bodybuilders have claimed to benefit from deer antler velvet by increasing muscle and nerve strength in the late 1960’s. Earlier studies found similar results in laboratory animals and athletes given pantocrin, an extract of deer antler velvet. Several studies show a positive correlation between consistent use of deer antler velvet and cardiovascular health. Human subjects who used deer antler velvet were able to endure larger work loads and experienced a shorter recovery time between exercises.
Improved Athletic Performance: Whether you’re a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or you just throw a ball around the front yard with your kids once in awhile, Deer Antler Velvet makes what you do better because it enhances the muscles, energy, stamina and circulation of your body. Think about the way you feel going into a sport or activity without warming up first, and how you feel after about 30 minutes or so into the activity. That smooth, loose, flowing feeling you have after you get “warmed up,” and get the blood flowing and the muscle temperature raised with activity makes a big difference in how you feel and how you play. It’s a subtle thing, but when you feel it you know it. Deer Antler Velvet does the same thing-provides a subtle, yet distinct sense that your body is ready to function at a higher level.