Velvet deer antler is the common name of a product made from deer antlers growing during a period in which they are covered with a soft velvety hair. New Zealand is the largest exporter of velvet deer antler, carrying tens of millions of dollars to Asia and the United States each year.
According to Asian tradition, the velvet deer antler has "tonic" properties, which means it tends to increase energy and vitality. More recently, it has been called an " adaptogen ". This term, invented by a Soviet scientist, refers to a hypothetical treatment that can be described as follows: An adaptogen should help the body adapt to stresses of various kinds, whether heat, cold, exertion, trauma, lack sleep, toxic exposure, radiation, infection, or psychological stress. Furthermore, an adaptogen should cause no side effects, effective in treating a wide variety of illnesses and help return an organism toward balance no matter what may have gone wrong.
In the 1960s, an injectable form of deer antler velvet was used by Japanese physicians to treat male sexual dysfunction and now very much popular in the form of spray (BioAntler Spray). The deer antler velvet started to become popular in the United States beginning in the late 1990s. Nowadays, numerous books and websites claim that deer antler velvet can enhance sexual performance by increasing levels of male hormones. However, these statements are based on extremely preliminary investigation. Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can actually prove a treatment effective, and the only study of this type reported for deer antler failed to find evidence of benefit.
In this study, 32 healthy men aged 45-60 years received either deer antler velvet (1 gram daily) or placebo for 12 weeks. The results showed no significant change in sexual function or hormone levels male in the treated group compared with the placebo group.
Deer antler also contains cartilage. Based on this, it has been promoted as a treatment for osteoarthritis; however, the cartilage is not a proven treatment for this condition. Numerous other proposed benefits of deer antler velvet are based on test tube or other forms of evidence that are too preliminary to rely upon at all. These include prevention of cancer, drug addiction support, immune support, liver protection, treatment for osteoporosis, pain management, sports performance, and increase in body muscles. Typical dose of deer antler is 1 gram daily, taken all at once or divided throughout the day.