Deer Velvet Antler | Myths, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage and Warnings

Jessica Lewis
November 16, 2016

Deer velvet antler has been used for over 2000 years in traditional Chinese medicine and it continues to be an essential part of it. It is also used in countries from Europe, America and Asia as a beneficial treatment for various health conditions. Research has shown that it stimulates the body’s immune system, and it strengthens and restores its functions.

What is Deer Velvet Antler?

deer_velvet_antler_250x282Deer velvet antler refers to the growing antler in its pre-calcified state. Deer antlers are mainly used for mating purposes, in battle with other male deer in order to obtain the mating rights. Male deer grow the first set of antlers in puberty when they’re about one year old. When the antlers are growing, they have a soft and spongy texture and they’re organs, unlike deer horns which are keratinized tissue. Antlers have nerves, blood vessels, cartilage, skin and bone. The growing antler is covered in a hair-like layer of skin, and that’s why it’s called “velvet”.

Testosterone is extremely important for the antler cycle. The secretion of testosterone in males is controlled by the seasonal changes and the amount of daylight. The growth of antlers begins in spring and the growing rate is rough ¼ inch/day. Antlers are fully developed in 4 months. By summer the antlers reach their full size and the cartilage begins to calcify. When the deer’s testosterone levels drop the antlers are shed. Antler growth is one of the fastest growing tissues in mammals and it’s also the only one that is shed and re-grown every year.

Nutritional supplements made from deer velvet antler are used in human medicine as a treatment for various health conditions.[1]

Deer Velvet Antler Composition

deer_velvet_antler_250x250Deer antlers need a significant amount of energy and nutrients to grow. Chemical comparison of growing antler sections has found different concentrations of ingredients. The chemical composition of deer velvet antler is incredibly complex: 40 key compounds and 400 active ingredients.

From its tip to base, deer velvet antler is composed of 53% proteins, 3% lipids, 34% minerals, and 10% water. Its composition includes 21 amino acids, 13 growth factors, 20 glycosaminoglycans and various vitamins and trace minerals.

The combination of all the ingredients contributes to the benefits of deer velvet antler:

  • Proteins and growth factors (amino acids, insulin-like factors, collagen, epidermal growth factor)
  • Glycosaminoglycans (hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate)
  • Lipids (prostaglandins, phospholipids, glycosphingolipids)
  • Minerals (phosphorus, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium)
  • Trace elements (sulfur, selenium, copper, zinc, cobalt, iron)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (an enzyme which inhibits the oxidation of neurotransmitters, improving mood)
  • Erythropoietin (a hormone produced by specialized kidney cells, stimulating red blood cell production)

Deer Velvet Antler Benefits

Deer velvet antler can act as a natural adaptogen, and it restores homeostasis in an unbalanced body. Homeostasis refers to the body’s tendency to seek and maintain equilibrium within its internal environment. Deer velvet antler has beneficial effects on various systems of the organism due to its complex chemical composition of ingredients. It’s also an all-natural food which is safer than any drug.

The benefits of deer velvet antler include the following:

  • Improving the overall health
  • Increasing circulation and blood supply
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Increasing endurance and energy levels
  • Increasing strength and promoting muscular development
  • Improving flexibility and mobility in joints
  • Supporting a quicker muscle recovery
  • Preventing and reducing inflammation
  • Improving sexual health
  • Promoting a healthy growth of the skeletal system
  • Stimulating immunity
  • Improving mental health
  • Anti-aging effects

  1. Improved Athletic Performance, Endurance, Muscle Strength, and Recovery

Studies have proven that deer velvet antler has beneficial effects on overall athletic performance, increasing muscular strength and endurance, aerobic capacity and a better recovery time.

deer_velvet_antler_250x503In countries such as Korea, China and Russia, deer velvet antler is used by athletes to increase their performances and in the US more and more athletes are viewing it as a training aid, promoting a quicker recovery after intense physical activity or injury. Deer velvet antler can improve athletic performances by enhancing endurance and strength, by supporting the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen, by facilitating a less severe tissue damage and by boosting immunity.

Russian bodybuilders claim that deer velvet antler increases muscle and nerve strength and studies have shown that people who use it can actually endure more workload and to experience shorter recovery time between exercises.

A Russian study conducted in 1969 showed that athletes who consumed deer velvet antler had an increased work rate and a much faster average time in racing.

In 1989, John Abdo, a fitness expert who trained several Olympic and world class athletes visited the Institute of Physical Culture in Moscow to investigate training routines and there he learned that Russian athletes had experienced considerable improvement in their performance due to the use of deer velvet antler. The Chairman of the Medical Committee for the Russian Bodybuilding Federation, Dr. Arkady Koltun, and various experts in anabolic agents have all confirmed that deer velvet antler can increase muscular strength and to speed recovery after an intense workout.

Research has also reported an increased heart strength and volume of pumped blood while cardiac output, mean arterial pressure, heart rate, pulse pressure, and central venous pressure remained the same.

Studies suggested that the deer velvet antler’s composition reduces the blood’s clotting tendency, it improves blood circulation, decreases stroke risk and it boosts the general cardiovascular health. It can also improve the blood supply to muscles, and it has anti-inflammatory properties so athletes who use it can recover easier and faster from training. So, deer velvet antler is beneficial also for muscles repairing.

3 Deer Velvet Antler Myths Debunked

Myth #1: It Is a Steroid

Professional sports and colleges well known for their star teams have always been stigmatized with the fact that players are supposedly secretly using steroids. It seems that according to medical experts and professionals in this field, deer velvet antler hasn’t been scientifically proven to meet all the requirements that would categorize it as a steroid. Therefore it is not classified as one. Evidence suggests that although it operates as a performance-enhancer, it doesn’t do it in the same way as steroids.

Myth #2: Only Bodybuilders Use It

It’s true that bodybuilders turn to deer velvet antler to pack on muscles faster before a competition, but this is not the only group that recognizes its benefits. Chinese have understood the beneficial properties and they continue to use it to treat common conditions like muscle pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more. The anti-aging properties and its capacity to improve bone and muscle health lead to its consumption by older people as well as a dietary supplement.

Myth #3: It’s Banned in All Professional Sports and It’s Dangerous

Technically, deer velvet antler is only banned by a few professional sports leagues, not from all of them. If it had been dangerous to users, it would have been banned from all sports and also from being purchased by regular consumers, but this is not the case. It can be found anywhere online and in the local natural goods stores. Therefore it’s safe to say that anyone who is interested in its benefits could give it a try after also getting some medical advice. If it’s used according to the instructions on the product’s label, it shouldn’t pose any dangerous threats.[2]

  1. Increased Testosterone Levels and Growth Hormones

Studies have also investigated deer velvet antler’s effects on the growth and repair of cells and it seems that it may also be a natural source for hormones very beneficial for people who need muscle development and growth due to the growth factors from its composition. The amino acids also increase the levels of growth hormone.

Deer velvet antler supplementation can increase the levels of estrogen, testosterone and its metabolites and it can also build and tone muscles.

  1. Promoting Cell and Blood Vessel Growth and Fighting Cancer

Deer velvet antler improves cell growth due to its nutrient-rich and fast growing cartilage. Its components also have anti-tumor and antiviral properties. Stimulating cell growth is critical especially for athletes, and synthetic steroids are potentially harmful. Therefore a natural alternative is essential, and deer velvet antler is the safest option.

Research also studies deer velvet antler’s potential to heal wounds and various tests showed reduced cell degradation, new bone formation, and also improved recovery time after extreme temperatures.

A Russian study indicated that the compounds from deer velvet antler such as amino acids and polypeptides increased the survival rate of mice with cancer and the percentage was 40 percent.

  1. Joint and Bone Health: Arthritic and Rheumatic Pain

Osteoarthritis is a health condition caused by the loss of cartilage in bone joints. People with healthy joints have cartilage as a buffer between bones, and the healthy body will replenish it when it wears away. When osteoarthritis is present, the cartilage will deteriorate much faster and the body is not able to replace it. As a result, the bones are rubbing together and this causes pain, swelling and eventually loss of joint mobility. Most medicines for this health condition try to reduce pain sensation and to maintain joint functions, but they’re not always successful in restoring joint health.

Researchers have come to believe that such imbalance between the erosion of the cartilage and the regeneration is caused by a lack of glycosaminoglycans which play an essential role in the structure of the cartilages. These compounds seem to inhibit the enzymes which cause the depletion of cartilage nutrition.

Deer velvet antler has the property of reducing and even eliminating the symptoms that are associated with osteoporosis. Its anti-inflammatory effects and its ingredients (glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate) help the stimulation of cartilage repair. Patients who have been treated with deer velvet antler showed improvement in pain after 3 to 6 months of administering it.

Deer velvet antler also reduces swelling associated with injury and arthritis due to its anti-inflammatory effects. The cartilage is rebuilt and the mobility is improved. These excellent results were also noticed in the case of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis patients who were given deer velvet antler for three months. The results included less pain and swelling, and increased mobility and grip strength.

Because of all of these beneficial results, in 1999 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of deer velvet antler as a scientifically proven compliant treatment for the positive effects in treating arthritis in order to support healthy joint structures and an optimal functioning.

  1. Blood Pressure Control and Hypertension

Deer velvet antler can stabilize abnormal blood pressure. This was the result of research and various studies which confirmed that deer velvet antler supports the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood and that it facilitates healthy circulation and blood pressure. The blood pressure reduction is a result of the antler’s ability to dilate peripheral blood vessels.

Russian and Japanese researchers have conducted some studies in cases of both human and animal subjects to verify the deer velvet antler’s ability to optimize blood pressure levels. The results were very satisfying as in a test involving 32 subjects with hypertension caused by obesity, early onset of menopause or cardiac disease; the blood pressure was reduced by 81% of the cases. In another study involving 13 patients with hypertension caused by heart muscle activity issues, the blood pressure was lowered to 84% of the cases.

Other studies have proved that deer velvet antler can stimulate red blood cells synthesis and it can improve circulation, also reducing the blood’ clotting tendency, the risks for stroke, and improving the overall health of the cardiovascular system.

Research conducted by pharmacists and physicians have indicated that the use of deer velvet antler can also regulate heart arrhythmias.

  1. Promoting Health of Kidneys and Liver

Deer velvet antler may aid in treating kidney and liver related health issues in a manner which is similar to steroid-based pharmaceutics. Due to its activity which promotes the production of testosterone, deer velvet antler can help in the recovery of damaged liver tissue. The enzyme activity from deer velvet antler results in promoting protein formation in both liver and kidneys.

  1. Improving Mood, Mental Acuity and Anti-Stress Effects

Dr. Taneyeva, a Russian scientist, studied the effects of deer velvet antler on the mental capacity of students who used it prior a scientific test. The results showed that their mental performance was improved.

Another study conducted in New Zealand by Dr. Fennesey suggested that it can also protect against stress and shock so it seems that deer velvet antler also has the properties of an antidepressant and mood regulator.

  1. Increased Sexual Functions

The traditional use of deer velvet antler was for its features to help in case of sexual disorders in men which included impotence, watery semen and premature ejaculation. The estrogen hormone which is most affected by deer velvet antler is estradiol, a precursor of testosterone.

Newer studies have suggested that deer velvet antler has also shown some gonadotropic activity which means that it can stimulate growth and it can increase the weight of the seminal vesicles. It is also helpful for women, treating menstrual and menopause symptoms, also infertility.

  1. Anti Aging Effects

Deer velvet antler supplements have the ability to inhibit the activity of certain enzymes which are associated with aging.

Some recent studies from Japan have shown that deer velvet antler can significantly reduce signs which are associated with senility. This comes as a result of its hormonal effects. It has also demonstrated marked effects on biochemical parameters related to aging during some research in mice.

  1. Promoting Immunity

Deer velvet antler is a natural source of immunoglobulins which fight disease and infections, and this means it also has powerful effects of stimulating the immune system.

Studies from New Zealand, China and Korea, have proven that it increases macrophage activity, stimulating the production of lymphocytes (white cells) and increasing the number of red blood cells. These will result in an increased ability of the body to fight or to resist disease and to promote and maintain overall health which is also associated with a state of well-being.

Other uses in which deer velvet antler has proven itself to be very beneficial due to its composition include the following:

  • Treating high cholesterol
  • Fighting migraines
  • Treating asthma
  • Curing the symptom of cold hands and feet
  • Helping in case of overactive bladder
  • Healing chronic skin ulcers

Deer Velvet Antler Side Effects and Safety

There is not enough reliable research and information about the safety of consuming deer velvet antler during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so in these cases, it’s better to be avoided.

In case of hormone-sensitive conditions such as uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, or uterine fibrosis it’s best to avoid the use of deer velvet antler due to its estrogen-like acting.

If you have any health condition which might get worse by exposure to estrogen, do not take deer velvet antler.[5]

Who Can Benefit from Deer Velvet Antler?

deer_velvet_antler_500x523Deer velvet antler is a natural product which seems to be well tolerated and a nontoxic dietary supplement. Both men and women can benefit from it because it supports the organism’s ability to adapt and to resist disease, stress, toxins and degeneration. It can balance the body’s systems.

Athletes can take deer velvet antler supplements to increase their strength, muscle mass, endurance and recovery as part of their regular training programs.

In children, deer velvet antler is used as a tonic for problems such as failure to thrive, learning disabilities, mental retardation, slow growth or some bone health issues including rickets.

Older people can also take it due to its ability to support healthy joint structures and functions. The elder can improve their mobility and stability, and they can also enjoy its anti-aging properties.

Deer Velvet Antler Dosage

The appropriate dose for deer velvet antler depends very much on several factors including the user’s age and health condition. Unfortunately, for now, there is not enough scientific information to determine the appropriate range of doses.

It’s important to remember that not all natural products are necessary safe and the dosage is critical. Therefore it’s essential to follow the proper directions on the products labels and also to consult your doctor or pharmacist before using it.