Deer Antler Velvet: Powerful Supplement Or Major Hoax?

Posted on March 1st, 2014 at 11:27 pm by

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 photo dt_common_streams_StreamServer_zps07ee9f7d.jpgBaltimore Ravens linebacker, Ray Lewis, was having a tough time getting past a torn triceps muscle, so he turned to SWATS (Sports With Alternatives To Steroids) for advice.  The company sent Lewis something that would soon be at the center of discussion in college and professional football locker rooms nationwide: deer antler velvet spray.

The names of those who have used the performance-enhancing product read like a Who’s Who of sports.  SWATS touted their spray as an acceptable replacement for steroids, to the dismay of team coaches, owners, and leagues – who really couldn’t do much about it. After all, what could be more natural than the velvet from a deer antler?

But, there’s a catch: IGF-1

The NFL, NCAA, PGA and like organizations DO have a ban against ingesting a substance known as IGF-1, a hormone similar to insulin that can enhance muscle growth.  It turns out that deer antler velvet is largely composed of IGF-1.  Athletes didn’t see any harm in spraying a little deer antler velvet under the tongue, but regulators took issue with the practice, once the nature of the product became better known.

Can you imagine an athlete doping by eating velvet from a deer antler?

Why in the world would anyone want to consume deer antler velvet anyway?

Every year, male deer and elk grow antlers.  Every year, they shed those antlers, then sprout them again the following year.

How can a magnificent set of antlers grow so quickly?  The secret is in the velvet.  It is packed with super nutrients in addition to the growth enhancer that raised eyebrows in the NFL.

The market for deer antler velvet has grown to the point where it is a booming industry in New Zealand, with velvet (the fuzz on antlers during the growth stage) in demand globally, but especially in Korea and China.

In New Zealand, the deer are not killed to harvest the antlers.  Rather, they receive an anesthetic and the antlers are sawed off at the base.  Still not a pretty picture, but definitely a renewable resource.

Does deer antler velvet provide nutritional advantage for non-athletes?

The general consensus from the scientific world is that IGF-1 is not stable enough to be freeze-dried and put into spray or pill form.  Lab tests confirm minimal or no IGF-1 in deer antler spray.  Some research studies do show improved athletic performance, others do not substantiate the claim. Scientifically, there is no firm conclusion either way.

Many athletes, however, swear by the stuff.  CBSSports.com interviewed NFL players in January of 2013 and determined that up to one-fifth of all professional football players are using deer antler velvet spray or some form of the product.

Should you try deer antler velvet?  That’s up to you.  Whether you want spray or another form of the rather intriguing velvet, many products are available.  You can find it as a stand-alone supplement or in conjunction with other substances meant to make you run faster, get stronger, and think with more clarity.  You can even make velvet tea.

One warning: many North American deer are afflicted with chronic wasting disease.  You should not harvest deer antler velvet from a sick deer and should be careful about the source you choose.  New Zealand is a good bet.  Ranchers there have perfected the process.

If you know of prime sources of deer antler velvet or have tried it yourself, please let us know in the comments below.

License : Creative Commons image source

About the Author

Abel Cane writes on topics related to natural health. You can contact Able via Twitter @getgonegut.

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