Deer antler velvet is a supplement commonly found on nutritional and pharmaceutical store shelves today.
It’s been used for thousands of years by cultures around the world, including traditional Chinese medicine, for the treatment of a number of medical conditions.
In recent years, use of the product has become more popular in the West for its potential to increase testosterone levels, enhance muscle growth and development, and to increase athletic performance.
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Deer antler velvet remained a relatively obscure supplement on shelves until a few years ago.
When most hear the name it’s common to envision that fuzzy velvety growth that covers the antlers of young male deer.
However, the term velvet antler refers to more than just that fuzzy coating on young ones, but refers to the entire antler in its pre-calcified growth stage.
It’s defined as a cartilaginous antler. They also grow on elk, caribou, and moose.
First, it’s important to note that animals are not hunted in the wild for their antlers or the collection of deer antler velvet.
For example, in New Zealand, deer farming is extremely prevalent, with some farmers owning and raising thousands of mainly Red Deer as well as elk, and hybrids of the two.
New Zealand ranchers produce one of the most popular products on the market today – New Zealand Red Deer velvet.
Before the velvet is collected, certified veterinarians or experienced farmers give the deer a local anesthetic, not because scraping the velvet off the horns causes pain, but to minimize potential stress on the animal.
One of the world’s biggest manufacturers of deer antler velvet is New Zealand, who exports millions of dollars worth of the product to countries around the world including the United States and Asia.
One of the most beneficial components found in them is a growth hormone; insulin-like growth factor 1, more commonly known, and sold on nutritional and sporting supplements shelves as IGF-1.
Growth hormones are important components in human growth and development and promote replication and synthesis of new cell growth.
For this reason, the product has grown increasingly popular among athletes in its ability to accelerate healing processes such as for the repair of strained muscles, torn tendons or ligaments, and in its potential ability to increase stamina and endurance.
IGF-1 has been studied for its effect to promote synthesis of new cellular development, division (mitosis), and healing.
The IGF-1 hormone enhances the formation of protein, the foundation that all cells need for synthesis, growth, and replication.
IGF-I increases the number of cells that form the base of protein synthesis, which is a positive component in healing processes.
While studies have determined that IGF-I and supplements that contain IGF-I, including deer antler velvet, can be effective in healing tendon and cartilage injuries and improving damage to joint cartilage caused by repetitive trauma movements.
Widespread clinical studies regarding use are still lacking.
Too much of anything can be detrimental to health though.
Unfortunately, a number of athletes and bodybuilders take more than recommended deer antler spray dosages.
Be aware that too much IGF-1 in the body has the potential to tighten tendons and may cause a disruption in the metabolism of fats and sugars.
Hormones have a huge impact on numerous body organs and even entire body systems. An imbalance of hormones can act much like a domino effect, influencing other hormone synthesis and function, as well as organ function.
Always follow recommended dosage and recommendations for use as provided on the label.
While there have been few deer antler velvet side effects it is still recommended that no more than two to six capsules containing 215 mg per day be taken.
It has been reported in deer antler velvet studies that it may interact with morphine (in mice). When starting out with any new supplement, start at the lower end of the dosage range to see how your body reacts to it.
If unsure about dosage recommendations, safety, and effects of the supplement, discuss its use with your physician, especially if you have a medical condition for which you’re taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs.