Ingredient Review: Deer Antler Velvet
Common Name: Deer Antler Velvet
Source: Antler “velvet” harvesting from growing elk, deer, mouse, and caribou. It represents part of the animal that produces new cartilage and bone as the horns grow. It is important to note that no harm comes to the animal from this process.
Background: Originally used in Chinese traditional medicine for over 2,000 years, it has a broad spectrum of claimed health benefits.
Claims: Ok, there is a long list of conditions for which Deer Antler Velvet has been used to “treat” or increase: athletic performance (strength and endurance), stress, sexual desire, muscle aches and pains, immune system function, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, acne, and even some types of cancer.
Objective Information: Deer Antler Velvet contains a wide variety of active substances. These include female sex hormones estradiol and estrone, some prostaglandins, minerals like Calcium, Phosphorous, Sodium, Magnesium, and Potassium, and some amino acids. There is a fair amount of variation depending on the antler harvested, so the exact types and amounts vary. The hormones that are known to be in all formulations are Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 and 2 (IGF-1, IGF-2), Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), and erythropoietin (Epo). Trace elements including Selenium, Sulphur, Zinc, Copper, Iron, and Cobalt have also been identified. Studies to date have not been able to support the claims made regarding deer antler velvet, however, there are many individual stories of success in reducing the symptoms related with arthritis, with increasing athletic performance and recovery, and with boosting sexual desire. There have been relatively few studies and many of them represent only a beginning, so more information will become available as these compounds are studied in depth.
Some users have reported fantastic benefits by using deer antler velvet, others have not. In addition, it contains some substances that are regulated by professional sports and use at the collegiate or professional level may cause a failed drug test.
Side effects: Deer Antler Velvet has few reported side effects ... especially when taken for less than 12 weeks. HOWEVER, and I stress HOWEVER, it can act like an estrogen in your body and can make some cancers *worse* - or any condition which is sensitive to estrogen. Cancers that it *may* make worse include: breast, uterine, and ovarian cancer. It can also make endometriosis and uterine fibroids worse as well.
Subjective Information: Deer Antler Velvet has been in use for many hundreds of years and has been used to treat dozens of different conditions. Although there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the claims, it has been in use for a long time and there are thousands of anecdotal stories about its successes.
Recommendation: Outside of a few specific circumstances (perhaps if you're an older man with joint pains) I would suggest that you avoid this product if you can. The relatively few proven benefits, but potentially serious side effects -- especially in athletes and women with the above named cancers - make this a risky proposition. If you can avoid this dietary supplement, I would do it.
ALWAYS tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other healthcare providers about any and all dietary supplements that you take. Some supplements can interact or interfere with prescription medications so it is very important to let them know *all* of the supplements that you take – even if you don’t take them regularly.
Now you know, but as always, what you do with the information is up to you.
Dr. Nick has been practicing medicine for over 10 years. After finishing his MD he began his residency in Laboratory Medicine where he gained first hand knowledge of some of the effects of dietary supplements. Dr. Nick now specializes in gastrointestinal health, Over the years of vigorous study and in-depth experimenting with a variety of dietary supplements Dr. Nick found that there are few sources of clear, evidence-backed, honest information about what the supplements can help achieve - and what they cannot. There are many companies out there selling promises without providing results.
Dr. Nick's goal is to educate the general public and do his part to help the world get healthy again. The industry needed an honest educated practitioner to reveal the real benefits of specific dietary supplements and to unbiasedly dig into the formulas and companies selling these formulas to reveal the true Pros and Cons of each supplement and to educate the general public about these ingredients found in various dietary supplements. Dr. Nick promoting general health and proper use of nutritional supplements is step one of the goal. In order to get the best effects without wasting time and money, a proper understanding of chemistry and human physiology are critically important. Since not everyone has the time to master these topics, Dr. Nick hopes to help clarify otherwise complicated topics and give the best, clear, evidence-backed input to help each person select the most appropriate supplements.