If we begin to look carefully at recent scientific analysis of antler, we see that there may be a correlation between some of the traditional claims about the use of velvet antler and current understanding about natural components, particularly hormones and anti-inflammatory components of deer antler velvet.
Antler does contain a variety of complex elements including minerals, enzymes, amino acids, sterols, lipids (fats), particularly nerve protective lipids, hormones, prostaglandins, and a very potent growth-promoting factor known as IGF-1. In fact, realize that during the rutting season the IGF -1 growth factor, as well as growth stimulating hormones, wind up in the antler itself and are responsible for its rapid development. Dr. Peter Fennessy of the Invermay Research Center in Otago, New Zealand, has determined the time to harvest the velvet is during the two-week window of opportunity peaking at about 50 to 60 days following the initial pedicle growth of the antler itself. This insures the antler is still in a cartilaginous state which imbues it with many medicinal qualities which we will discover later.
Researchers have concluded from many scientific studies that deer antler velvet contains very powerful anti-inflammatory agents which assist in reducing the pain and inflammation of a variety of degenerative diseases, including arthritis and other diseases that cause pain. In fact, if we look at the anecdotal reports of individuals having used antler, we find that arthritis and inflammatory diseases that induce pain are perhaps the most commonly controlled disorders with the use of velvet antler.
Once scientific claims for antler have been made, we tend to view the product as a medicine, not just a food, and it is in this area that science searches for credibility. Certainly the gap between West and East looms largest when users begin to make medical claims. However, recently James Suttie Ph.D. of the Invermay Research Center has just closed the gap considerably.
Western doctors are very skeptical about a medicine which is accompanied by the Yin and Yang concept and doctrines reminiscent of astrology. However, as we will now see, scientific research is substantiating some of the traditional claims that have been made traditionally for over 2,000 years. For instance, scientific studies in Russia have shown that extracts of velvet deer antler have hypotensive, erythropoietic (red blood cell producing), anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, gonadotropic (sexual growth), and metabolic effects. At the same time, we do have to recognize that the medical properties of velvet antler were originally discovered well before the principles of medicine and science were developed in the West. The mythology that accompanies velvet, in most probability, evolved as a means of explaining the various functions of this remarkable product rather than the other way around. It is also very hard to dismiss unsolicited testimonials of people in New Zealand, Korea, Russia, China, and now the United States, who have discovered velvet antler and are receiving health benefits. Also, we realize that when a health tonic works on a particular problem, the person receiving relief usually couldn’t care less if the scientific research supports his or her positive experience – the person primarily cares about whether or not the product works.
An Example of Deer Antler Velvet’s Anti-inflammatory Properties
Manufacturers of consumer-ready velvet products report dramatic increases in sales and reorder rates and bundles of unsolicited letters from happy customers using this remarkable product. As a case in point, a popular lay publication in New Zealand, The Deer Farmer, centers around velvet antler farming, and in that periodical, in April 1990, appeared the unsolicited testimonial of one of the happy users of velvet antler, a visitor to New Zealand from San Diego, Virginia Walker. Virginia apparently had been trying to get through the winter of 1990 in southern California, which was colder than usual, and suffered through it with a bad case of arthritis and rheumatism. However, with the use of velvet antler, the pain, inflammation, and stiffness subsided and she reordered eight bottles of velvet antler to ensure that she would not run short of this almost miraculous medicinal food.
While she was thrilled with the results she had obtained, she did run into one problem. As she explained, when she tried to relate how this particular product was so beneficial to her, people had a hard time grasping the idea that something that came from the rack of antlers on a stag could have any medicinal value. Regardless of this, she continues to use the product with success. Fortunately, Ms. Walker, and other Americans, can now buy velvet antler from New Zealand, Korea, China, Russia, and now the United States. Regardless of where antlercomes from, a cold processed antler extract is by far the most effective, especially if only the tips of the antlers are used.
Excerpt adapted from: Velvet Deer Antler: The Ultimate Antiaging Supplement by Dr. Alex Duarte, 2000.