After about 55-60 days of growth the velvet antler is removed painlessly from the deer in less than 60 seconds so that it may be done as humanely as possible. These deer are not harmed and experience no pain in the removal of their velvet antlers for our consumption. The antler is then scraped of its fuzzy velvet and then cleaned before it is sanitized and pasteurized for safety, and then inspected for quality grading.
The growing market has bred plenty of competition. A company called Now Foods is now making deer antler velvet lozenges. GNC just started selling deer antler velvet capsules called New Vigor from a company called Vitalast and Amazon.com has more than 30 products will deer antler velvet in it including the raw powder from New Zealand, where the most coveted deer velvet is harvested.
In what might be the most important study done in the United States, a group of scientists took 32 male weight lifters and gave half of them New Zealand Deer Antler Velvet and half of them a placebo for 10 weeks. While the placebo group didn't show any difference in bench or squat tests, those given deer antler velvet saw an increase of 4 percent on the bench press and 10.1 percent on the squat test as compared to the placebo group. The scientists also reported that there was a "significant improvement in aerobic capacity" with the group that was taking deer antler velvet.
Velvet Antler is a supplement derived from powdered or crushed antlers, most commonly from deer (and thus referred to as Deer Velvet Antler) although Elk have also been used. They have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The base of the antler is referred to as Cervus (in reference to deers), Lu Jiao Pan, Zhen Zhu Pan, as well as Lu Hua Pan and appears to have been traditionally used for cardiovascular disease, gynecological problems, immunological deficiencies, blood cancers, tissue repair and health promotion. The specific part used is the antler base; when the antler is sawed off the base temporarily remains until the regeneration of the new antler pushes it off which occurrs occasionally in the wild. Traditional usage involves using the base and macerating it in wine or decocting it with water for oral consumption.
Other studies reported an increase in heart strength and volume of blood pumped, while cardiac output, heart rate, mean arterial pressure, pulse pressure, central venous pressure and other parameters remained unchanged. Researchers suggest that the polysaccharides in antler may reduce the blood’s tendency to clot, improving circulation, decreasing stroke risk and boosting general cardiovascular health. Researchers theorize that the deer antler velvet may improve blood supply to muscles or act as an anti-inflammatory, allowing athletes to recover faster from training sessions.
Even sellers of deer antler products doubt that the products could deliver IGF-1. "IGF-1 is very unstable," Dean Nieves of Florida-based Bio Lab Naturals told the Baltimore Sun. "It could not exist outside of a very controlled environment." Nieves' company therefore markets the product as a nutritional supplement. "It is just packed with nutrients," he said.
Tanejeva also tested the effect of deer antler velvet in athletes running three kilometer races. In the experiment, 50 men ran the distance and their completion time was recorded. Deer antler velvet extract was administered to half of the runners and the participants repeated the race. The group receiving the Pantocrin completed the subsequent race in a faster average time.
A study (Yudin and Dobyrakov, 1974) on the effect of deer antler velvet extract on the static load-bearing capacity of subjects found that those who took the extract increased the time of work by 2-4 seconds compared to the control group. In tests of dynamic work using a veloergometer, the subjects who took the extract increased the work output 4 to 5 times more than the control group.
Even more intriguing is how the stags manage to regrow their antlers. Scientists have found stem cells at the bases of antlers’essentially ‘blank’ cells that can develop into many different types of cell, such as a skin cell or a cartilage cell. If they could find out what triggers the stem cells and controls their development into antlers, the knowledge could be applied to the regeneration of human limbs and organs. Scientists know that the shedding is initiated by a fall in the hormone testosterone, a change linked to an increase in day length, and they think oestrogen may be a key cellular regulator. However, much more research on a molecular level is required to unravel what is clearly an intricate process.
S.W.A.T.S. Fitness and Performance was a dietary supplement company that sold deer antler spray and other products. The owners began distributing their products to NCAA and NFL athletes in 2008. The controversy initially started in March 30, 2009 when Alabama athletic officials sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company's owner that stated: "Refrain from using current student-athletes to endorse products. Refrain from contacting current student-athletes. Refrain from giving or selling products to current student-athletes."  The letter was then sent again in 2012.
The truth? While research is limited, there’s nothing to suggest that deer antler velvet (or deer antler spray in the supplement form) actually does what it claims. In fact, there are two published studies (in real scientific journals, you can see them here and here) that suggest deer antler velvet does not (I repeat, does not) even elicit a hormonal response. What’s more, it also did not increase muscular strength or aerobic power.
For those of you in your teens and 20’s, if you take this type of supplementation your body will begin to stop producing this naturally; and that right there is NOT a good thing. If you really believe you are getting some benefit from using this supplement than you will need to take more and more as your body stops making it completely (at an early age), and will most very likely have complications later, if not sooner, due to having to increase your dose. Therefore when it is found, and it is known that IGF-1, the active ingredient of why Deer Antler Velvet is used, can cause cancer, especially prostate cancer and the enlargement of other vital organs in the body, not muscles.
Velvet antler is the whole cartilaginous antler in a precalcified growth stage of the Cervidae family including the species of deer, elk, moose and caribou. Velvet antler is covered in a hairy, velvet-like "skin" known as velvet and its tines are rounded, because the antler has not calcified or finished developing. Velvet antler preparations are sold in China as part of Traditional Chinese medicine, and in the United States and some other countries as a dietary supplement.
Deer Antler Velvet Spray has been tested and results show that this is safe. It doesn’t contain the controversial Human Growth Hormone, but it offers the same benefits. This doesn’t need a prescription. However, the site states that some have experienced mild stomach pains. While this is considered a supplement, doctors still advise you to go in for consultation because this product is surrounded with controversy and isn’t well accepted by the medical community.
Other uses include treatment of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, migraines, muscle aches and pains, asthma, indigestion, weak bones (osteoporosis), headache, liver and kidney disorders, cold hands and feet, soreness and weakness in the lower back and knees, chronic skin ulcers, and overactive bladder. It is also used to promote youthfulness, sharpen thinking skills, protect the liver from toxins, stimulate production and circulation of blood, and increase the number of red blood cells.
Both a lack of sexual desire and sexual performance issues like erectile dysfunction can be traced back to a low testosterone level. Deer antler velvet can help increase the production of hormones related to sexual functions, including testosterone and its metabolites. In this way, deer antler velvet can help as not only an aphrodisiac but also as a possible treatment for erectile dysfunction.
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In another randomized, double blind, placebo controlled experiment (Broeder, 2004), 38 males, all of whom were experienced weightlifters, entered a 10 week strength training program. Those who took deer antler velvet experienced an increase in peak torque and average power relative to the placebo group. They also experienced unexpected improvements in aerobic performance.
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.
In a study on diabetic mice given topical wounds (scalpel and scissors to create a cricle; diabetes tends to reduce wound healing rates and thus diabetic rats are a good research model for wound closure rates) where either a control cream or one containing 400mcg Velvet Antler (Elk; water soluble extract) noted that there was less angiogenesis and a trend towards less inflammation assocaited with Velvet Antler cream while on day 7 wounds treated with the Antler cream were significantly smaller than control. One 3.2kDa protein has been noted to possess wound healing properties, which are dose-dependent and have been noted to improve wound healing induced by burns at 0.05-0.1% of solution and in vitro at 10-40mcg/mL.
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).