1g of Velvet Antler taken daily for 12 weeks in otherwise healthy adult men has failed to significantly alter serum testosterone levels, either total or free testosterone. Another study in otherwise healthy men has also failed to find such an effect on the endocrine profile, with 11 weeks of 1.5g supplementation failing to alter serum testosterone and a lack of effects also noted after 10 weeks of 560mg in males and females who performed a consistent rowing regimen.
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The product smells like lemon-scented cleaner and bears a resemblance to murky pond water. I hesitantly tried the stuff and found it surprisingly palatable, with a lemon taste, but not too sour and slightly sweet. The directions say to take 14 drops under the tongue, three times a day, but I stopped after one dose — so I probably don't have a good chance of reaping the benefits, if there are any.
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.
Deer antler spray products are not cheap. Expect that buying a high-quality product will set you back about $60–$100 per bottle. When taken as directed, each bottle should last you about one month. You don’t need to refrigerate the spray. However, keep it away from very hot temperatures to preserve the chemical composition of the product. Manufacturers claim that you can start experiencing benefits within 3–4 days. However, results definitely differ from one person to the next.
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.
One study (duplicated in Medline) that used a water extract of Velvet Antler at 50-200mg/kg failed to inhibit the pain killing effect of Morphine yet reduced the rate at which rats became tolerant to Morphine over the course of 6 days when taken an hour prior to Morphine each day. Rats who were given Velvet Antler prior to Morphine also experienced 26.6-36.6% less withdrawal (dose-dependent) and reduced reverse tolerance and dopamine receptor supersensitivity relative to morphine control.
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.