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Updated 18 February 2013

Deer velvet

Deer velvet, also referred to as antler velvet, refers to antlers that have been removed during the growth stage, when they are covered with soft velvet-like hair. After removal, the antlers are dried and ground. In Western countries, the ground powder is sold as a dietary supplement that purportedly improves sexual function and overall energy, decreases stress, and strengthens the body. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), deer velvet has been used as a yang tonic for the endocrine and immune systems, energy metabolism, growth, and sexual function.

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RELATED TERMS

Androstenedione, anti-complementary polysaccharide (DWA-2), antler, antler velvet, ash, bone, Cervidae (family), calcified cartilage, cartilage, Cervus elaphus, Cervus nippon, chondroitin sulfate, deer (Cervus elaphus), deer velvet, dehydroepiandrosterone, dermis, elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), estradiol, European red deer (Cervus elaphus L.), lipids, pantocrin, pilose antler of Cervus nippon, progesterone, protein, red deer, Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), rulondin, Sika deer, Temminck, testosterone, velvet antler, velvet deer antler.

BACKGROUND

Deer velvet, also referred to as antler velvet, refers to antlers that have been removed during the growth stage, when they are covered with soft velvet-like hair. After removal, the antlers are dried and ground. In Western countries, the ground powder is sold as a dietary supplement that purportedly improves sexual function and overall energy, decreases stress, and strengthens the body. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), deer velvet has been used as a yang tonic for the endocrine and immune systems, energy metabolism, growth, and sexual function.

There is currently insufficient available clinical evidence to support the use of deer velvet for any medical use. High-quality clinical studies are needed before safety can be assessed and firm conclusions can be made.

EVIDENCE TABLE

Conditions

Uses
disclaimer: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Grade*

Aerobic fitness

Historical uses of deer antler include enhancing energy, stamina, and strength. Preliminary human research showed that deer antler powder may increase some measures of strength and endurance. Additional research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.

C

Sexual function / libido / erectile dysfunction

In both traditional and popular use, deer velvet has a reputation as an aphrodisiac that may improve sexual energy by potentially strengthening and balancing the body and restoring overall energy. Preliminary human research showed a lack of effect of deer velvet on sexual functioning in middle-aged men. Additional research is required before conclusions can be drawn.

D

*Key to grades: A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).

TRADITION

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below. Aging, anti-inflammatory, aphrodisiac, arthritis, circulation, digestion enhancement, energy enhancement, growth, hormone-related problems, hypertension, immune function enhancement, memory enhancement, metabolic enhancement, rheumatism, sexual vigor, stamina enhancement, strength enhancement, stress reduction.

DOSING

disclaimer: The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

For sexual function in men, four 250-milligram capsules of ground deer velvet have been taken by mouth daily for 12 weeks.

Children (under 18 years old)

There is no proven safe or effective dose of deer velvet in children.

SAFETY

disclaimer: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to deer velvet, its constituents, or members of the Cervidae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

Although not well studied in humans, deer velvet may have possible androgenic effects. Use cautiously in patients in whom an androgenic effect is contraindicated, as deer velvet may contain small amounts of androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone, and testosterone.

Use cautiously in patients in whom supplemental estradiol is contraindicated, as deer antler has been reported to contain small amounts of estradiol.

Use cautiously in patients in whom supplemental progesterone is contraindicated, as deer antler has been reported to contain small amounts of progesterone.

Use cautiously in patients taking sexual-enhancing agents, as, based on secondary sources and traditional use, deer velvet may enhance sexual function and libido. Based on animal research, deer velvet may have possible androgenic effects.

Use cautiously in patients taking energy-enhancing or muscle-strengthening agents, as, based on secondary sources and anecdote, deer antler may increase energy and muscle strength.

Use cautiously in patients taking hepatotoxic agents.

Avoid in pregnant and lactating women, due to a lack of available safety information.

Avoid in patients with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to deer velvet, its constituents, or members of the Cervidae family.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Deer velvet is not suggested in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to lack of available scientific evidence.

INTERACTIONS

disclaimer: Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

Deer velvet may interact with androgens, energy-enhancing agents, estrogens, hepatotoxic agents, muscle-strengthening agents, progesterone, and sexual-enhancing agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

Deer velvet may interact with antiandrogens, energy-enhancing agents, hepatotoxic herbs, muscle-strengthening agents, phytoestrogens, and sexual-enhancing agents.

ATTRIBUTION

This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

  • Bubenik GA, Miller KV, Lister AL, et al. Testosterone and estradiol concentrations in serum, velvet skin, and growing antler bone of male white-tailed deer. J Exp Zoolog A Comp Exp Biol 2005;303(3):186-192. View abstract
  • Conaglen HM, Suttie JM, Conaglen JV. Effect of deer velvet on sexual function in men and their partners: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Arch Sex Behav 2003;32(3):271-278. View abstract
  • Hemmings SJ, Song X. The effects of elk velvet antler consumption on the rat: development, behavior, toxicity and the activity of liver gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol 2004;138(1):105-112. View abstract
  • Kropotov AV, Lisakovskaia OV, Khotimchenko IuS. [Seasonal features of the effect of adaptogens on sex behavior of experimental animals]. Eksp Klin Farmakol 2001;64(6):60-62. View abstract
  • Sleivert G, Burke V, Palmer C, et al. The effects of deer antler velvet extract or powder supplementation on aerobic power, erythropoiesis, and muscular strength and endurance characteristics. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2003;13(3):251-265. View abstract
  • Wang BX, Zhao XH, Qi SB, et al. Stimulating effect of deer antler extract on protein synthesis in senescence-accelerated mice in vivo. Chem Pharm Bull.(Tokyo) 1988;36(7):2593-2598. View abstract
  • Zhang H, Wanwimolruk S, Coville PF, Schofield et al. Toxicological evaluation of New Zealand deer velvet powder. Part I: acute and subchronic oral toxicity studies in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2000;38(11):985-990. View abstract
  • Zhao QC, Kiyohara, H, Nagai T, et al. Structure of the complement-activating proteoglycan from the pilose antler of Cervus nippon Temminck. Carbohydr Res. 6-16-1992;230(2):361-372. View abstract
disclaimer: Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions. disclaimer: While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy. disclaimer: The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)



Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
 
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