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:
Blood Pressure: Almost 30% of Americans (28.7%) have high blood pressure. If you’re 60 years of age, 65.4% of your age group has it. If you’re black, 33.5% vs. 28.7% of whites, have high blood pressure. It’s a very common problem-and only gets worse as we age. So why should you worry about your blood pressure? Because high blood pressure is the cause of heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and failure and death to name a few reasons. Did you know that 5 million people in US have high blood pressure, including those getting treated for it? But wait-almost 40 million people don’t know they have it, aren’t getting it treated or can’t control it adequately! Are you one of them? Ask your doctor. Deer Antler Velvet has been shown to reduce high blood pressure naturally, without side effects and without interfering with any medication you’re already on.
Deer antler velvet is used for its purported ability to raise testosterone levels to treat decreased libido (low sex drive), infertility, and erectile dysfunction in men. It is used in combination with other herbs to treat sexual dysfunction and hormonal dysfunction in men and women. It is used to treat conditions resulting from deficient kidneys. Some people use it because of its reputed benefit as an aphrodisiac and muscle strength enhancer. It is also sometimes prescribed to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in the treatment of morphine addiction.
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.
Unfortunately, the potential problems with IGF would seem to negate any of these theoretical benefits. It has been shown that improper use of hormones such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, and human growth hormone may increase the risk for development of prostate cancer or promote the growth of existing prostate cancer by raising IGF-1 levels. Therefore, men who are taking supplements with IGF in it (or those that raise IGF levels) could theoretically be putting themselves at an increased risk for prostate cancer. Again, it hasn’t been rigorously studied so it’s impossible to know for sure, but if you have any risk factors for prostate cancer, it’s probably best to avoid taking this supplement.
L-Arginine: An amino acid usually found in red meats that is important for the body’s ability to manufacture proteins. L-Arginine has been used to treat conditions like high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, blocked arteries, and erectile dysfunction. L-Arginine is safe for most people, however it should not be taken by women that are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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Currently, IGF-1 is banned by both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, deer antler spray seems to provide only very small amounts of IGF-1. This is why it’s no longer considered illegal. Insulin-like growth factor is also naturally found in other animal-derived foods, including eggs, milk and red meat. Some experts believe that the amount of IGF-1 obtained from using deer antler products is really not much more than from eating these foods.
However, calcium and phosphorus levels (which are important for bone growth) did not differ among groups. Overall, the researchers concluded that “our results seem to support a role for dietary supplementation of EVA on growth and bone development in this model.” (9) However, it’s important to point out that this is a very high dose. It’s significantly above what most would take in supplement form.
Deer antler velvet's effects on cell growth and repair have been investigated in several areas. Deer antler velvet may be a natural source of hormones for those seeking aid to muscle growth and development. Research has identified various growth factors in deer antler velvet including IGF-1 (insulin–like Growth Factor-1), IGF-2 (insulin–like Growth Factor-2), and EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor).