To be clear, some doctors and researchers have stated that they feel deer antler spray is unlikely to cause any significant benefits. This is because it only provides very small amounts of IGF-1, some of which may not even be fully absorbed. However, studies do show that higher doses, or using very high-quality supplements, may contribute to some improvements in performance, body composition, etc. IGF-1 itself has been studied extensively. It can certainly change the way the body looks and operates. Whether or not the role of IGF-1 in the body will translate into any real benefits when obtained from deer antler products will depend on the specific person and dosage used.
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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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.
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.
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Using deer antler velvet benefits sexual functions and libido by helping to increase gonadotropin hormones which include luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone are hormones that stimulate the sex glands. The stimulation of the sex glands is pivotal for sexual reproduction. Without the presence of the gonadotropin hormones, the sexual organs will fail at their purpose and the individual will be considered infertile. As the deer antler velvet promotes an increase in LH, the LH causes the testes to produce more testosterone.
The movie The Raging Bull was inspired by the true life story of boxing legend and middle weight champion of the world, Jake Lamotta. He was known as the Raging Bull and the Bronx Bull. His character was depicted by Academy award winner Robert Deniro and went on to win 2 oscars under the direction of Martin Scorsese. Jake Lamotta was known as one of the toughest fighters in the world. He fought Sugar Ray Robinson 6 times in his career, the last fight being remembered as the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
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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.
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.