Deer antlers grow at incredible speed and, after several weeks, as the antlers reach their final size, the cartilage within them gradually converts into bone. In the final process, the antler’s blood supply and nerves are lost. When the antlers have fully hardened, the stags rub them against trees or rocks to remove the skin that remains. As a result of this rubbing, the deer develop sharp bony weapons for combat against threats to their harem of females during the autumn rut or mating season.
Each Spring the antler cycle begins anew and the skin around the pedicle expands and grows, initiating new antler growth. The hard antler from the previous season is cast off and the growth of the new season’s velvet crop begins. It is then that the velvet is harvested for its medicinal and performance qualities.
When the velvet deer antler has been removed, it is allowed to cool on tilted racks just before being frozen. It is then ready to be processed. If it is removed at the right time, while still in the cartilaginous state, almost all of the antler can be used for medicinal purposes.
The use of velvet antler was scientifically supported in compliance with FDA regulations for its beneficial effects in treating arthritis. Other therapeutically valuable actions include immune stimulation, antiaging, protective and rejuvenating effects, and beneficial effects in blood and circulation. A recent study used 2 to 6 capsules containing 215 mg of deer velvet per day.
Benefits Of Velvet Deer Antler
Reports from the Orient, Russia, and New Zealand indicate that velvet deer antler has been used for centuries to control blood pressure, increase hemoglobin levels, increase lung efficiency, improve recuperation from exertion, improve muscle tone and glandular functions, sharpen mental alertness, relieve the inflammation of arthritis, and heal stomach ulcers.
Chinese herbal doctors use deer antler as a balancing agent for the endocrine system and in the treatment of penile erection dysfunction in men. Oriental physicians claim it is especially beneficial for men suffering from enlarged prostate glands and watery semen. Oddly enough, velvet deer antler has also been used in the treatment of menstrual disorders. It contains both male and female hormones In addition to cartilage components, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and, in particular, IGF-1 (insulin- like growth factor)
How Much Deer Antler Velvet Should I Take
It is critical that one takes a minimum of 500 mgs daily to achieve optimal effect & benefit. Note: 1 milligram = 1,000,000 Nano grams. Many Igf-1 and deer antler velvet products use Nano grams as their measure, which ultimately misleads the customer to see high ingredient content. If a measure of Nano grams is noted in the ingredient content there is only trace elements of said ingredient. This in turn will not yield optimal results. 500 mgs is the optimal daily dose for best results. Contraindications have not yet been identified with deer velvet. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.
History Of Medicinal Use
The first documented evidence of the use of velvet deer antler as a medicine was found on a silk scroll recovered from a Han tomb in the Human Province in China. The scroll is believed to be about 2,000 years old and recommends medical treatments and prescriptions for 52 different diseases using deer antler.
Velvet deer antler product called Pantocrine is manufactured by a Russian state pharmaceutical company to assist in the treatment of many different medical conditions (in hospitals) in which post-operative recovery of patients is a key factor. Velvet deer antler has become an elite medicinal food in Asia, New Zealand, and Korea – the world’s largest consumer of the product.
The most important animal in oriental medicine is the deer because it is the animal with the most Yang energy. Dr. Peter Yoon of Seoul, Korea claims that velvet deer antler is especially important in increasing the quality and quantity of blood production in the treatment of kidney disorders, anemia, high blood pressure, and even the elevation of low blood pressure.
Dr. Yoon and other doctors use velvet deer antler to treat impotence in men. Dr. Lee Sangin of Kyung Hee University in South Korea uses velvet deer antler to treat infertility in women and for liver problems and high cholesterol in both sexes. The medicinal use of velvet deer antler has been going on for 2,000 years, but it is only recently that scientific evidence has been developed to document its health benefits.
Growth Hormone Factors
In scientific studies analyzing the medical properties of velvet doer antler, Dr. Peter Fennessy, General Manager of the Invermay Research Center in pncOtago, New Zealand found that antler extracts improved cell growth and also produced anti-tumor and anti-viral effects. During an investigation into the factors that make antlers grow, the fInvermay group measured a natural hormone factor called “Insulin-like Growth Factor-1″ or “IGF-1″ High levels of IGF-1 were found in deer blood during the antler growth period as well as IGF-1 receptors in the antlers. Dr. Fennessey’s team also discovered that the IGF-1 and IGF-2 (a related hormone) promoted growth in laboratory cell lines from mice.’
When we are young, we have a relatively healthy concentration of human growth hormone. In our teenage years, most of us are slim and lean, with low body fat and good musculature. The reason human growth hormone generates lean body mass is its influence on IGF-1. As we age, our growth hormone levels decrease along with IGF-1, which causes muscular atrophy. Velvet deer antler is a natural source of growth factors, which can improve muscular development.
Accelerated Wound Healing
Scientists can only speculate about Dr. Fennessey’s findings, which may explain (to some degree) the anabolic properties of velvet deer antler. If there are high concentrations of hormone like substances in blood, tissues, and bone, accelerated tissue repair after trauma such as intense exercise can be induced by velvet deer antler. But the most important consideration is the cartilaginous concentration of the antler itself. Researchers such as Dr. John F. Prudden discovered (more than 35 years ago) that cartilage contains an element called N-Acetyl-Glucosamine, which has been demonstrated to accelerate wound healing significantly.2~5
Cartilage also contains glycosaminoglycans, the up-regulators of cartilage production and turnover.6-7 It is also a very powerful regulator. of synoviocytes, which regulate the integrity of the joint fluid.8-9 Perhaps this is the primary reason that arthritics are helped so much by shark cartilage and velvet deer antler.
In 1974, two Russian doctors found that Pantocrine (the Soviet version of velvet deer antler) improved the performance of average, healthy sportsmen (athletes). Unadministered athletes on the exercise cycle performed 15 kg/m of dynamic work, whereas those given Pantocrine increased dramatically to 74 kg/m of dynamic work. This is truly a remarkable increase in performance. Another Russian scientist, Dr. Taney, showed in 1964 that the mental capacity of young men (as indicated by a mathematical test) improved significantly following the administration of velvet deer antler.10
Another ingredient found in velvet deer antler cartilage is Chondroitin Sulfate A, an extremely powerful anti-inflammatory agent shown by Dr. Lester Morrison (over 10 years ago) to reverse atherosclerosis and dramatically improve circulation. Dr. Morrison conducted a six year study demonstrating that Chondroitin Sulfate A reduces the incidence of fatal heart attacks and strokes by more than 400%!
Modulating The Immune System
One of the most important discoveries about cartilage in the last 30 years comes from the work of Dr. Arthur Johnson of the University of Minnesota in Duluth. Dr. Johnson discovered that cartilage contains a small molecular weight protein which has the unique ability to modulate the immune system. This means that, if the immune system is depressed, this particular protein can dramatically improve it. And, if the immune system is overactive, it can reduce its activity until it reaches the normal range. Velvet deer antler has been shown to be capable of modulating the immune system.
Dr. Koltun’s Findings
For twelve years, Dr. Arkady Koltun, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman of the Medical Committee for the Russian Bodybuilding Federation, conducted research into anabolic agents that can improve performance, strength, and musculature in Russian athletes. In studies with Russian kayakers, weigh/lifters, bodybuilders, and power lifters, Dr. Koltun found that velvet deer antle is myotropic (increases muscular strength). He also found that it has powerful neurotropic (nerve strengthening) properties and is beneficial in treating infectious diseases, fatigue, and hypertension.
Dr. Koltun revealed that Pantocrine has induced significant increases in endurance in his athletes. After using Pantocrlne in the pre-Olympic festival in Russia, two of Dr. Koltuns’ top kayakers and a world-recordholder in canoeing achieved remarkably improved results. These sportsmen not only stabilized their racing time one week before competition, but dramatically increased their speed in rowing. All received gold medals and established new world records. Dr. Koltun went on to describe an interesting phenomenon that occurs in athletes that are overtrained, even in young athletes. He explained that when athletes train too hard they develop an electrolyte imbalance in the heart muscle, in which there is a loss of recovery and endurance. He calls this condition “Myocardial Dystrophy”and explained that electrocardiograms show dysphasic and extreme negative T-wave readings, which is an image of ventricular repolarization of the cardiac ventricles.
Improving Recovery Time
Dr. Koltun contends that sportsmen (and women) with myocardial dystrophy have a problem with myocardial repolarization and that this, in turn, significantly limits their performance. But there is a good prognosis for them if they lay off their training activity for two weeks. When Pantocrine was given along with inosine and vitamin B-6, he was able to decrease the time of recovery to ten days. In other words, the athletes’ recovery time was dramatically reduced. This allowed the athletes to participate in many competitions, with short recuperation periods in between.
Dr. Koltun also mentioned that one of the most significant attributes of velvet deer antler is the discovery of Dr. Ivan Kinia, who co-authored several studies from the Siberian institution known as Blagoveshemska in 1989. It was shown that among the main bioactive substances in deer antler are the anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, which are especially effective in people who suffer from arthritis.
Toxicity studies of deer antler powder in rats demonstrated no mortality or adverse events on a short term basis.
Deer antlers are the only mammalian bone structures to regenerate completely every year. Deer antler velvet is the epidermis covering the inner structure of the growing bone and cartilage, which develops into antlers. This tissue grows each spring on male Cervus sp . (North American elk and red deer) and should be removed by a veterinarian or certified farmer. The ethics, including use of local anesthetics, and procedures of harvesting antler velvet have been reported. Velvet yield depends on several factors, including season, parasites, or injury. After removal of the deer velvet, it is collected and then frozen or dried prior to its manufacture into various “medicinal” forms including powders, extracts, teas, capsules, and tablets. Each part of elk velvet contains varying compounds, but the deer antler velvet contains the largest concentrations of those found to be beneficial. (Antler also has been sold by the slice). Heating during processing may reduce or destroy the purported beneficial effects of velvet antler. Various preparation methods, including freeze-drying and non-heat-producing methods have been reported.
Ten dogs were examined before and after injections of deer antler extract. While heart rate, general cardiac output, pulse pressure, and arterial pressure were not effected, stroke volume was consistently increased in a significant manner during observation of the animals under study. Talk about a virility factor! In babies and young children, velvet deer antler has been known to strengthen a faint heart sound and a weak pulse as well as elevating low blood pressure (Chang 1986). Indeed, when researchers in China added velvet deer antler to the diet of mice, there was an invigorating effect. Protein and RNA levels were increased in the rodents’ livers, offering strong evidence that their overall liver function was increased in a positive manner (Wang 1990). Velvet deer antler may also be able to ease the degeneration of connective tissue as the body grows older. Research has shown that disorders of sugar metabolism have an important role in rheumatic and degenerative joint diseases. Usually, corticosteroids as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are given to arthritis patients. However, there are side effects that accompany these drugs, including ulcers and immune impairment. Yet, Z.Q. Zhang published evidence in 1994 that deer antler has strong anti-inflammatory tendencies–without the negative side effects of traditional anti-arthritis medicine! German research has also supported that key components such as glucosamine sulfate, glucuronic acid, and glycosarninoglycan in deer antler have an anti-inflammatory effect on cartilage and body tissue (Setnik 1001). More arthritis research is needed, but the evidence is intriguing. Antler extracts may one day become accepted in the West as an alternative treatment for degenerative joint and cartilage conditions. Aging does not have to be dreaded. Velvet deer antler is a potent anti-aging medicine that I have begun to recommend to clients. I’ll provide further updates in a future report. If you start using velvet deer antler, please let me know how it has helped you. Write to me in care of the Journal of Longevity Research.