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World harvest extends far and wide. The farming of deer species for their velvet antler has been occurring for a long time in China and Russia. The Asian industry raises a predominant amount of sika, aka. spotted deer, on private and communal farms where they are well cared for by private owners. Quality of a this profound botanical is of utmost importance. Farms in Asia it is also both industry and government regulated for quality, safety, and the welfare of the animals.
A growing trend in western medicine is the proliferation of influences from ancient eastern medicine. Over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese were administering deer antler velvet to treat conditions ranging from serious illnesses to lack of sexual desire. After closely examining the wide range of health benefits deer antler velvet promotes, it's no wonder why the Chinese used it as a medicine for thousands of years.
A 2014 study published in Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine tested whether or not deer antler extract would have an effect on fatigue in mice who were led to swim distances. The findings suggested that deer antler “might increase the muscle strength through the upregulation of genes responsible for muscle contraction and consequently exhibited the anti-fatigue effect in mice.” Deer antler seems to have a positive effect on genes involved in nine different signaling pathways that affect muscles, endurance and fatigue. These include GnRH signaling pathway and insulin signaling pathways, in addition to levels of troponins. (8) Deer antler may contribute to increases in muscle strength by increasing Tpm2 expression. This affects how muscles take up proteins and repair themselves. Other studies show some evidence that deer antler extract helps prevent muscle fatigue by activating the lactate dehydrogenase activities and reducing the levels of blood lactic acid and serum urea nitrogen.
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.
Velvet antler in the form of deer antler spray has been at the center of multiple controversies with professional sports leagues and famous athletes allegedly using it for injury recovery and performance enhancement purposes. In mid-2011 a National Football League (NFL) player successfully sued a deer antler velvet spray manufacturer for testing positive for methyltestosterone in 2009 for a total amount of 5.4 million US dollars. In August 2011, Major League Baseball (MLB) added deer antler spray to their list of prohibited items because it contains "potentially contaminated nutritional supplements." 
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).
In Russia, Korea and China, deer antler velvet is widely used by athletes to enhance performance. In the United States, more and more athletes are looking to deer antler velvet as a training aid, a promoter of recovery after physical activity and injury, and possibly an injury preventative. Deer velvet could improve athletic performance in many ways, for example by assisting strength and endurance, by supporting the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, by facilitating minor tissue damage, and by boosting the immune system.
A study conducted in rowers given 560mg Velvet Root for 10 weeks of training has failed to find improvements in rowing performance or other parameters of strength (bench press and leg press) in both sexes. 1350mg of Velvet Antler twice daily (daily dose of 2,700mg) for 10 weeks was noted to increase leg strength (assessed via leg press) more than placebo with no differences in the bench press; this study had a 44% dropout rate and conclusions that can be drawn are limited.
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:
Data is limited. Two studies (n=40 and 168) investigating the efficacy of elk velvet antler supplementation on rheumatoid arthritis found no effect, while a study conducted in people with osteoarthritis (n=53) reported symptomatic relief among participants. The small sample sizes may result in the trials being underpowered to detect effects.25, 28, 29
In a randomized, placebo controlled test in 2004, researchers at the University of Alberta, Canada, placed 18 males from the Edmonton Police Force into a 9 week strength training program. The results showed that deer antler velvet increased the strength and endurance of the subjects relative to the control group. The researchers found that use of deer antler velvet significantly increased blood plasma testosterone levels.
According to modern research, deer antler velvet has shown gonadotropic activity. Studies by both Fisher and Wang indicate that deer antler velvet may increase testosterone levels in men and can help prevent some conditions associated with aging. The estrogen hormone most affected by deer antler velvet is estradiol. Estradiol is a precursor to testosterone.
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.
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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.
In Chinese medicine, deer velvet has been used to treat impotence, female disorders, urinary problems, skin ailments, and knee weakness. It is also employed as a tonic in children with learning disabilities or insufficient growth.16 Koreans use antler velvet to treat anemia and impotence and to stimulate the immune system, treat impotence, improve heart function, muscle tone, lung efficiency, and nerve function.17
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.