Studies have shown that deer antler velvet can help increase workout stamina and help reduce recovery time from intense workouts.
In a Russian research paper, the effects of liquid velvet antler extract in athletes running 3,000 meters were tested. Fifty men between the ages of 18- and 23-years-old ran 3,000 meters and the time that each took to complete the event was recorded. A single administration of 20 milliliters of velvet antler extract 30 minutes before the next race contributed to help lower the completion time from 14 minutes and 48 seconds to 14 minutes and four seconds. In many track and field events the improvement in time run can be a fraction of a second, let alone an improvement of 44 seconds. In a second experiment, the liquid velvet antler extract was administered for 12 days and the race was rerun 24 hours after the last treatment. Significant improvement was noted in all runners regardless if they were top, middle, or lower categories of runners. This shows that liquid velvet antler extract can help improve performance for above, as well as below, average athletes.
Perhaps one of the most astounding scientific studies was conducted once again by Yudin and Dubryakov (1974) which graphically demonstrates the profound improvement in endurance that velvet antler can help engender. In this particular Russian study, control athletes exercised on cycles to the point of sheer exhaustion. Following the period of time cycled, the average amount of work generated from these athletes was 15 kilograms per meter dynamic work. Those athletes, on the other hand, that received the liquid velvet antler extract helped lead to an increase in the amount of work to 7.4 kilograms per meter (kg/m) dynamic work. A second preparation, also a liquid antler extract, helped lead an increase to an amazing 103 kilograms per meter dynamic work.
During an interview with Dr. Arkady Koulton, he indicated that velvet antler had helped encourage athletes to increase muscular strength, endurance, and also had led to a neurotrophic (nerve strengthening) property. He also went on to state that researchers have isolated antifatigue, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, heart-strengthening, and testosterone-promoting properties that could potentially be found in liquid velvet deer antler.
One of the very first effects that I noticed in taking concentrated velvet deer antler was a potential increase in my workout stamina. Normally I would workout between one to one and one-half hours doing high intensity, high volume weight training. However, after just four days on the liquid velvet antler concentrate, I was up to two to two and one-half hours. I believe I was recuperating much faster than I had previously, too. My gains were absolutely enormous in terms of strength and endurance.
Once having accumulated research from around the world, I noticed a study by S. Fulder in 1980. Dr. Fulder had discovered a series of anti fatigue substances that could be found in velvet antler. These biologically active components were described as glycosides. These particular compounds are proteins hooked to sugar molecules and the primary site of action appeared to be in the brain in the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. Remember that the pituitary is responsible for producing growth hormone, which in turn makes the liver produce IGF-1, which is one of the primary muscle growth stimulants. Another possible site of action is the heart muscle.
Another glycoside that you might be familiar with is called digoxin (originally isolated from the herb known as Foxglove). This is a medically accepted and very potent cardiac stimulant. Could it be the possible anti fatigue benefits of velvet antler stemmed from these glycosides?
Nothing beats a double blind, placebo-controlled study in which neither the investigator nor the participant knows whether they are receiving a placebo pill or the real thing. The first double-blind, placebo-controlled study on human athletes was a collaborative trial conducted by the Ag Research Invermay and the School of Physical Education at the University of Otago in Dunedin.
Unlike these other studies, however, this particular trial used freeze dried antler powder and unfortunately the study did not explain if the antler powder was cold-processed or heated. It is well known that in the heating process the growth factors of velvet antler are destroyed. The study involved 24 male volunteers with an average age of 21.4-years-old. By the time the study was finished, there were 11 athletes in each group - the therapeutic group and the placebo group. Both were given only 70 milligrams of velvet antler for about 10 weeks. Now realize, this is an exceptionally small dose especially compared to animal studies where significantly greater amounts were used. All of the subjects were tested twice during the pre-training and twice after the 10 weeks strength training sessions. Strength performance tests were carried out using resistance training apparatus. Muscular endurance tests were conducted using a Biodex Isokinetic Dynamoneter.
The results demonstrated a strong trend. The increase in total work done by extension muscles which were specifically trained during the study of the extract group was thought to be twice that of the placebo. This supports the claim that velvet antler can help work towards boosting muscle activity and reduce body fat. It is my opinion that, once again, the amount of antler taken was exceptionally small.
The New Zealand researchers also postulate that antler extract may act as an anti-inflammatory, which allows athletes to recover faster from training by focusing bloodflow within the muscles. Because of the small number of participants in each group and a large standard deviation score, the statistical improvements of this study were not considered significant. (Gerrard, D.F., G.G. Sleivert, A.Goulding, S.R. Haines, and J.N. Suttie. Clinical Evaluation of New Zealand Deer Velvet Antler on Muscle Strength and Endurance and Healthy Male University Athletes.) If one looks at the amount of antler given to laboratory animals in their studies compared to the amount of antler given in this study, there is an enormous difference.
Obviously, if you are a runner, cyclist, swimmer, or an athlete engaging in any endurance competition, the prospect of using velvet antler to help improve performance becomes very significant, especially if we consider the next study.
On the 21st day of February in the year 2000 the New Zealand Game Industry Board made public the results of a new study. This study involved New Zealand deer velvet antler on athletes to measure improvement in strength and recovery. The study was conducted at the University of Otago Human Performance Centre and it demonstrated the possibilities of a link between improved athletic performance and New Zealand velvet antler. This included improved strength and endurance during training.
In the initial study, scientists looked at how muscle developed in endurance and strength. They took two different groups of men taking the velvet and looked at their muscle strength compared to a placebo group. Over the 12 weeks, the men taking the deer antler velvet showed better improvement compared to the placebo group.
The next study analyzed the role that deer antler velvet had in helping athletes recover from injuries. In the study, a substance known as creatine kinase was used to show any muscle damage. The greater the levels of present creatine kinase, the greater the muscle damage.
The athletes in the second study were placed on treadmills and induced conditions which would simulate downhill running. This would help create safe muscle damage located in the thighs. After the run, muscle biopsies were performed and blood samples were taken. Athletes on deer antler were shown to have less creatine kinase present in the blood compared to the control group. Within 24 hours, the deer antler group also had less muscle soreness than the control group.
This research was commissioned by the Velvet Antler Research of New Zealand, a joint venture between the New Zealand Game Industry Board and Ag Research.
Excerpt adapted from: Velvet Deer Antler: The Ultimate Antiaging Supplement by Dr. Alex Duarte, 2000.