When antlers fall off, they leave wounds that heal quickly, without forming a scar. Researchers have found that velvet antler contains substances that encourage healing, and could be of use to humans. Of particular interest are 3 hormones known to promote growth of skin tissue: insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), epidermal growth factor (EGF) and transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). In a recent study, an ointment made from velvet antler, containing these compounds, enhanced healing when applied to the skin of rats. IGF-1 was a hot topic in the media in the winter of 2013 when a football player, Ray Lewis, was accused of using a banned spray containing IGF-1.
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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:
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Although previously found on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances, Deer Antler Spray was removed in 2013 when it was deemed completely safe and legal to consume prior to athletic activity. Deer Antler Spray has been known to speed up the rehabilitation process of injuries, especially injuries effecting cartilage. It has also been known to boost endurance and strength, increase muscle mass, decrease fat, and raise one's testosterone levels, thus increasing libido. The use of Deer Antler Velvet Spray has been linked to several athletes, including football star Ray Lewis, who is rumored to have used it following an injury to his tricep in 2013.
There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence supporting the benefits of deer antler velvet from decades of research carried out in Russia, Korea, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. This research has given credibility to deer antler velvet’s traditional usage and validated recommendations for its inclusion as an everyday health supplement. Almost 250 papers have been published since 1930 on the manufacture, composition and biochemical effect of deer antler velvet. Studies on deer antler velvet and the corresponding findings are described below.
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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).