New Zealand research reports that although the mechanism is unknown, deer antler velvet shows strong anti-inflammatory effects. Recent clinical tests suggest oral ingestion of glycosaminoglycan-peptide complex, or components such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate — both found in deer antler velvet — may help stimulate cartilage repair.
"I am 60 years old and had polio when I was six months old. Throughout my childhood I had 7 orthopedic surgeries to correct the damage leftover by polio to my left hip, leg and foot. I am battle scarred and a Post Polio Syndrome Survivor. I cannot praise your product enough! Its difficult for me to walk. I normally use a battery powered scooter in malls and airports. The least amount of physical exertion walking and standing creates days of agony afterwards. This past Saturday I walked the mall, went for a movie and dinner. I was active all day and well into the night without tiring. I kept waiting for the intense painful spasms and muscle contractions from my polio atrophied muscles in the left leg and also my hips. Usually late at night is when the pain and spasms are the most intense. But guess what? I am not hurting anywhere near the level I use too. I am not fatigued. I used Antler Farm's Deer Antler Velvet a couple of years ago when traveling to Machu Picchu, Peru. I am still amazed I climbed the ancient Inca Trail unaided with just my cane. Antler Farm's Deer Antler Velvet has improved my quality of life significantly."*
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.
According to an article published by Business Insider, between 20 to 40 percent of professional MLB and NFL athletes admit to purchasing and using deer antler spray (also called “deer antler velvet”). They hope to benefit from its performing-enhancing effects. (1) Some famous athletes turn to deer antler spray in hopes of promoting growth of new tissue cells or gaining strength due to more easily putting on lean muscle mass.
IGF-1 is currently on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list due to how it gives athletes an unfair advantage in terms of building strength and muscle mass. (7) However, it’s still legal to use supplements that may provide IGF-1 or similar effects. Most of the studies that show positive results from using deer antler supplements have used high doses. And some have tested the product on animals (mice or rats) rather than humans.
In rats undergoing left coronary artery ligation, those with heart failure were given either Velvet Antler (Deer) or Captopril as active control for 4 weeks with a third group given water. No significant changes in cardiac structure was noted with either Velvet Antlers or Captopril (with the heart tissue being enlarged after heart failure) although left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and fractional shortening (LVFS) appeared to be improved in both treatment groups to approximately the same degree and the increase in serum Brain Natiuretic Peptide (BNP) that occurred with heart failure was attenuated the same degree in both interventions.
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.