Velvet Antler: Traditional Medicine Backed By Modern Research

By Frederick Obey

Velvet antler is a popular tonic that has been used mainly in the Orient for centuries. Velvet antler is deer horn that is cut from the deer after approximately 65 days of growth. Elk, Sika, Red Deer, and Reindeer are the common species from which the horn is cut. Traditionally, velvet antler is used for a wide variety of ailments. These include: anemia, arthritis, impotence, spermatorrhea, and menopausal complaints. Recently, there has been a renewed interest both in the East and West concerning the effect of velvet antler. This interest has developed into modern research investigating the pharmacology of velvet antler.

According to Oriental Medical Theory, velvet antler strongly builds the kidney. The kidneys, in Oriental medicine, are the storehouse for the body's deepest and most basic energies. These energies control growth, reproductive functioning, the skeletal system, and aspects of circulation and concentration.

Research on velvet antler has been conducted in eight general areas:

  1. Hormonal Effects. Velvet antler has been shown to boost testosterone levels. (This hormone promotes male characteristics.) It has also been shown to boost estrogen levels, (This hormone promotes female characteristics). The estrogen hormone most affected by velvet antler is estradiol. Estradiol is a precursor to testosterone.
  2. Blood Building Effects. Tests with preparations of velvet antler have shown it to increase production of both red blood cells (to a higher degree) and white blood cells (to a lesser degree). These facts are linked with velvet antler's ability to increase oxygen uptake to the brain, liver and kidneys.
  3. Protection Against Stress. Velvet antler helps the body to maintain homeostasis against heat, cold, and electric shock. This has been linked to velvet antler's ability to decrease mast cell degranulation.
  4. Protection from Liver Damage. In a controlled test, velvet antler helped to protect lab animals from liver damage by carbon tetrachloride.
  5. Stimulation of Growth. Velvet antler is an extremely rich, fast growing tissue that contains many growth factors. Elk can grow up to 50 pounds of new bone in approximately two months. Due to its fast rate of growth, deer antler is being looked at as a model for studies on osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, as a possible graft for healing fractures and as a model for cancer studies.
  6. Aging Retardation. Recent studies in Japan show that velvet reduced signs normally associated with senility. This is probably due to its hormonal effects.
  7. Recovery From Traumatic Injury. Antler, as in extremely fast growing tissue, is comprised of many cell types. These include: fibroblasts, chondroblasts, chondrocytes and others. All of these are required for healthy growing bones and tissue. Velvet antler is high in calcium and phosphates which aid in the healing of bones. Research has shown that velvet antler helps to heal neural (nerve) tissue. This mechanism can be explained by velvet antler's ability to enhance glycosis to nerve tissue. Velvet antler's relationship to recovery from traumatic injury could possibly explain its effectiveness against arthritis.
  8. Reduction of Blood Pressure. Blood pressure reduction is due to velvet antler's ability to increase dilation of the peripheral blood vessels. According to modern research, velvet antler has shown gonadotropic activity. This means that it can stimulate growth and increase the weight of both the seminal vesicles and prostate.

Velvet antler can boost hormonal activity, increase oxygen uptake to the brain, liver, and kidneys, decrease the rate of muscle fatigue, and promote muscular growth. It is extremely useful for both physical and mental activity as well is well as in promoting healing. Velvet antler should not be used, or should only be used cautiously, in people with prostate problems, heart conditions and lupus.

Fall 1994 North American Elk Farmer Magazine

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