One double-blind study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism tested whether or not deer antler velvet powder or extract had an impact on aerobic performance, endurance and “trainability of muscular strength” compared to a placebo. The subjects were adult males. They were given either a placebo, or deer antler extract or powder supplementation over a 10-week period while undergoing a strength-building routine. The men were measured for muscular strength, endurance, and VO2max before and after using deer antler. These results were determined by measuring circulating levels of testosterone, insulin-like growth factor, erythropoietin, red cell mass, plasma volume, and total blood volume.
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A study by Chen found that deer antler velvet inhibits monoamine oxidase activity in the liver and brain tissues of aged mice. Monoamine-oxidase inhibitors prevent breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and serotonin. Antler apparently allows these vital neurotransmitters to be available longer to the brain structure, enhancing mood.
Deer antler products contain mostly amino acids (that form proteins) along with growth factors, which are poly-peptide bonded amino acid chains. (4) The most abundant growth factor is IGF-1. However, it isn’t a factor found in these products. Depending on the specific brand, deer antler spray/powder/capsules may contain amino acids and growth factors including: (5)
The first question to ask, is why? Why are you considering this supplement? A supplement is not intended to fix a crappy diet or poor exercise program. A supplement is intended to be just that, a supplement to your existing good diet/good exercise program. And if you’re eating a well-rounded diet, then there’s really no need for supplementation at all.
Elk velvet antlers have been shown to contain chondroitin sulfate. This has a growth-promoting effect on cells throughout the body, which helps with recovery. This includes cells in the gut. It is believed that cartilage proteoglycans regulate water retention and differentiation and proliferation of chondrocytes inside cartilage tissue. Four types of collagen (I, II, III, and X) have also been identified in deer antlers. The collagen may provide benefits including rebuilding damaged parts of the GI tract, skin and joints. This might be beneficial for preventing or helping to treat leaky gut syndrome, which contributes to widespread symptoms.
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.
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.
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:
“I've been taking deer antler since 2012 so I've been taking it for years and I definitely believe in it. And for recovery after hard, intense workouts, deer antler is a must. Go to AntlerFarms.com, definitely get the [deer antler velvet extract tablets] and the [deer antler velvet capsules]. Take those two in combination and you will feel great.”*
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.
Deer antler spray — a supplement commonly used in the fitness and sports industries that has a long history of use in Eastern medicine — is pretty much as strange as it sounds. Derived from the tissue found inside deer antlers, it’s reported to work by providing IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), a natural growth hormone found inside the human body that has potential to increase muscle mass and support recovery from injuries.
Chondroitin sulfate is a compound of connective tissues that are usually found in cartilage. Glucosamine sulfate is a natural building block for the growth and maintenance of healthy cartilage. Since osteoarthritis is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage in the bone joints, a daily supplement of deer antler velvet can help to stimulate the repair of deteriorated bone cartilage with healthy doses of chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate.
All male members of the deer family, including elk, moose and reindeer (caribou), grow a new set of antlers each year’from scratch, in just a matter of months’then shed them at the end of the annual mating season. The ability to regenerate such large appendages each year is unique to this family among mammals and rare in the animal kingdom as a whole (horns, in contrast to antlers, are permanent and cannot be regrown). Understanding how it happens could have significant implications for human medicine, particularly in the fields of wound healing and organ regeneration.
The word antler is derived from the Latin Anteoculae, meaning "in front of the eyes." Antlers are present in almost all members of the deer family Cervidae. The first documented evidence of deer velvet as a medicinal was found on a scroll recovered from a tomb in Hunan China dating back 2000 years. The use of antler dates back to the Han Dynasty 206 BC to 220 AD. A 16th century medical text, Pen Ts'ao Kang Mu, lists several antler preparations including pills, tinctures, and ointments. In traditional Chinese medicine, velvet antler has been used for over 2000 years as a tonic, to improve bone health, to nourish the blood, reduce swelling, and to treat impotence. Later research on deer antler dates back to the 1980s in Russia. Hundreds of articles have since been published including those documented by Chinese, Korean, and Japanese scientists.14, 15
When you are born, your body has massive amounts of IGF-1. This hormone helps you grow and enhances basic functions of your body. As you get older, your IGF-1 levels decrease, which can lead to less energy, decreased immune functions, and diminished health overall. IGF-1 Plus supplements can help regain some of that vitality! By helping to enhance your body's functions with this all-natural supplement, you can help boost muscle mass, help enhance your immune system, and help work towards improving your health.
"This mountain bike loop that I do almost everyday usually takes 48-50 minutes. After a few weeks of Antler Farms®, I saw that number continually go down. I am at basically an average of 4 minutes shaven off every time that I do that loop. Faster recovery also. I have more energy later on in the afternoon. Just all around really good results. Good stuff. Highly recommend it."*
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.
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.