Articles

Deer Antler Velvet

Introduction

This unique supplement was first used by the Chinese more than 2,000 years ago. A silk scroll recovered from an ancient Chinese tomb describes the use of deer antler velvet for more than 50 diseases.

Deer antler velvet is the soft growing antler tissue that is cast off every year and re-grown by several species of deer. Antler velvet is removed at the midpoint of the antler growing cycle (about 55-60 days). At this point, the antlers are composed of cartilage filled with nutrient rich tissue, which is covered with fine velvet like hairs. Removal of this tissue is humanely done with no harm to the deer. The antlers are then frozen and sent to a processing lab where they are made into supplements.

Today, deer farming for the harvesting and processing of antler velvet has become a significant industry; farmers in China, New Zealand, America, Canada and Russia are involved in the trade. There is also a significant demand for deer antler products. For many years, deer antler velvet has been the second most popular product in traditional chinese medicine, second only to ginseng.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

Difficult to determine because dosages vary depending on age, type of product being used, and route of administration.

Most Common Dosage

Difficult to determine due to the multiple dosage forms available.

Dosage Forms

Tablets, capsules, powder packets, teas, extracts, injection, drops, and drinks.

Reported Uses

While many of the clinical trials for deer antler velvet have not been formally published, non-peer reviewed studies and historical use of the supplement suggest it may have several medical applications. First, one of the components in deer antler velvet may improve athletic performance. Unreviewed studies further suggest that deer antler velvet may enhance aerobic ability and muscle strength. (1) , (2)

One of the most common historical uses of deer antler velvet products has been for the treatment of male impotence and female infertility. One unpublished Canadian study suggests that deer antler velvet may increase testosterone levels, thereby enhancing sexual function.

Additionally, deer antler velvet is rich in glucosamine and chondroitin, which may have benefits in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Deer antler velvet’s collagen content may offer benefit for those with rheumatoid arthritis. (3)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

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General

While there is no reported toxicity associated with deer antler velvet, scientists agree that more research on the subject is necessary for this dietary supplement.

Side Effects

Occasional side effects reported with very large doses of this dietary supplement include a mild stomach upset. Tell your doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

This supplement should not be used in children unless recommended by your physician.

References

  1. Yudin AM, Dubryakow YL. Academy of Sciences of USSSR, Far East Science Center. Vladivostock. 1974:25-27.
  2. Gerrard DF, et al. Clinical evaluation of New Zealand deer velvet antler on muscle strength and endurance in healthy male university athletes. Agsearch Invermay. New Zealand. 1989:31.
  3. View Abstract: Barnett ML, et al. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with oral type II collagen. Results of a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum. Feb1998;41(2):290-7.