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What is Deer Antler Used for Today?
In the 1960s, an injectible form of deer velvet was used by Japanese physicians to treat male sexual dysfunction . Deer velvet first began to become popular in the U.S. beginning in the late 1990s. Today, numerous books and websites claim that deer velvet can enhance sexual performance by increasing levels of male hormones. However, these claims are based on extremely preliminary research. Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can actually prove a treatment effective, and the one study of this type reported for deer antler failed to find evidence of benefit. (For information on why double-blind studies are essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies? )
In this study, 32 healthy men age 45–60 were given either deer velvet (1 gram daily) or placebo for 12 weeks. 1 The results showed no significant change in sexual function or male hormone levels in the treated group as compared to the placebo group.
A 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 168 people with rheumatoid arthritis failed to find that elk velvet antler enhanced the effectiveness of conventional treatment for rheumatoid arthritis . 2 Deer antler contains cartilage . On this basis, as well as one study in dogs, it has been promoted as a treatment for osteoarthritis 3 ; however, cartilage is not a proven treatment for this condition. Numerous other proposed benefits of deer velvet are based on test-tube studies or other forms of evidence that are too preliminary to rely upon at all. These include cancer prevention , drug addiction support , immune support , liver protection , osteoporosis treatment , pain control, sports performance , and bodybuilding enhancement. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
- 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. 32(3):271-8.
- Allen M, Oberle K, Grace M, et al. A randomized clinical trial of elk velvet antler in rheumatoid arthritis. Biol Res Nurs. 2008;9:254-261.
- Moreau M, Dupuis J, Bonneau NH, Lécuyer M. Clinical evaluation of a powder of quality elk velvet antler for the treatment of osteoarthrosis in dogs. Can Vet J. 45(2):133-9.
- Ivankina NF, Isay SV, Busarova NG, et al. Prostaglandin-like activity, fatty acid and phospholipid composition of sika deer ( Cervus nippon ) antlers at different growth stages. Comp Biochem Physiol B Biochem Mol Biol. 1993;106:159–162.
- Price JS, Oyajobi BO, Oreffo RO, et al. Cells cultured from the growing tip of red deer antler express alkaline phosphatase and proliferate in response to insulin-like growth factor-I. J Endocrinol. 1994;143:R9–R16.
- Zhou QL, Guo YJ, Wang LJ, Wang Y, Liu YQ, Wang Y, Wang BX. Velvet antler polypeptides promoted proliferation of chondrocytes and osteoblast precursors and fracture healing. Zhongguo Yao Li Xue Bao. 20(3):279-82.
- Kim HS, Lim HK, Park WK. Antinarcotic effects of the velvet antler water extract on morphine in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 66(1):41-9.
- Kim HS, Lim HK. Inhibitory effects of velvet antler water extract on morphine-induced conditioned place preference and DA receptor supersensitivity in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 66(1):25-31.
- Chen X, Jia Y, Wang B. Inhibitory effects of the extract of pilose antler on monoamine oxidase in aged mice. Chung Kuo Chung Yao Tsa Chih. 1992;17:107–128.
- Kim DH, Han SB, Yu KU, et al. Antitumor activity of fermented antler on sarcoma 180 in mice. Yakhak Hoeji. 1994;38:795–799.
- Zhang ZQ, Wang Y, Zhang H, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of pilose antler peptide. Zhongguo Yao Li XueBao. 1994;15:282–284.