Deer antler velvet is now being used by athletes around the world to improve their exercise and recovery experience. This unique substance is the tissue that covers growing antlers on all Cervidae, which include species such as deer, elk, and moose. The velvet has been used for centuries in traditional far-eastern medicine. Today western health practitioners are including this as a whole food nutritional supplement to help their patients in a wide variety of ways. Athletes are also looking to this supplement to improve performance and recovery from exercise and injury. Cervidae velvet gained national attention with athletes after Ray Lewis’s (Baltimore Ravens) alleged use and then rapid recovery from an injury prior to his Super Bowl win.
Deer Antler Velvet and Its Effect on Athletic Performance
So does this stuff actually live up to the hype? What effect does it have on the body? Research suggests that it has a positive effect on athletic performance in the following ways:
- increased blood flow
- increased energy
- increased endurance
- improved flexibility
- quicker muscle recovery
- anti-aging effects
- improvement in general health
How Does It Work?
Deer antler velvet’s main active component is a growth hormone called “insulin-like growth factor 1”, or IGF-1. IGF-1 directly affects how the body heals and repairs itself. Initially, the hormone assists in building up a matrix (crucial building block of protein) that’s needed for cell growth. Then the substance increases the number of new cells that accumulate on the base which, in turn, get busy healing the injury. Thus, you see overall improvement from the ground up due to the cells more efficient operation at its core levels of functioning. Simply put, because the cell operates better, the body operates better.
In a random, placebo controlled test in 2004, researchers at the University of Alberta placed 18 males from the Edmonton Police Force into a 9 week strength training program. The researchers found that use of deer antler velvet significantly increased blood plasma testosterone levels. Overall, the results showed that regular use increased the strength and endurance of the subjects relative to the control group.
In Russia and China, deer antler velvet is widely used by athletes to enhance overall performance. Here in the west, more and more athletes are looking to this supplement as a promoter of recovery and possibly as an injury preventative. IGF-1 (the main active compound found in antler velvet) could also improve athletic performance by assisting strength and endurance, by supporting the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, by facilitating minor tissue damage repair, and by boosting the immune system.