Deer velvet is the coating that covers the growing bone and cartilage that develops into the antlers.
Typically extracted from the antlers of young bucks, deer velvet is experiencing a resurgence in wellness circles as a performance enhancer.
Plus, it’s believed to help heal cartilage and tendon injuries more quickly.
Deer antler velvet is not a new supplement, as it dates back 2,000 years to ancient China where it was used to promote youthfulness, strength and endurance.
Deer antler velvet was also used to manage conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma, and kidney disorders.
This article explains what deer velvet is, what scientific research shows about its health benefits, and how it may be useful to you.
Nothing distinguishes a North American deer more than its antlers. Deer antlers are the only known mammalian bone structures to regenerate completely every year.
Deer velvet is a soft fuzzy layer that covers the antlers of male deer for a small period of time every year. The velvet around the antlers supplies the blood, oxygen, and nourishment the antlers need to grow and mature. During this stage, the deer is said to be “in velvet.”
After the antlers are fully grown, the velvet is lost and the antler’s bone dies. At this stage, you’ll see deer rub their antlers on the barks of trees to get rid of the velvet.
Several communities still hunt for discarded deer velvet in the winter and early spring for use in traditional medicines. Today, you can find deer velvet farms in various places around the world, from China to New Zealand, where velvet is produced in a clean, green, free-range environment.
For those concerned about the safety of the deer involved, deer antler velvet is extracted from a stag’s antlers by certified veterinarians who place a premium on the health and well-being of the deer.
It is then processed into supplements that people consume for their health and well-being.
Ancient cultures were fascinated with the cycle of death and regrowth of deer antlers. They suspected deer velvet might hold the keys to slowing the aging process.
The first documented evidence of deer antler extract being used as medicine dates back 2,000 years ago—to Hunan China where it was used as a tonic to improve bone health, nourish the blood, and treat anemia and impotence.
In traditional Chinese medicine, deer velvet is classified as a yang tonic that fills the body with warm, positive energies. As such, it was used to treat illnesses characterized by weakness and coldness, as well as chronic energy depletion. It was believed to be a true tonic, capable of revitalizing the body and mind in many ways.
While the anti-aging benefits are still being researched, modern science has verified some of the medicinal benefits of antler velvet. Let’s break them down.
1. Athletic performance and endurance
Generally, researchers agree that deer antler has a stimulating effect on the body, leading to increased athletic performance, muscular strength and endurance. As a plus, taking deer velvet supplements also supports the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, boosting recovery time and facilitating minor tissue damage repair.
More and more athletes are looking to deer antler velvet as a performance and recovery aid. It’s a natural and safe alternative to anabolic steroids that increases work capacity by decreasing skeletal and muscular fatigue. Deer velvet is used to build strength and endurance and to promote recovery after strenuous physical activity or injury.
2. Potential to increase growth hormone and testosterone levels
Deer velvet contains a comprehensive nutritional profile of collagen, essential fatty acids, amino acids, and functional proteins that promote human metabolic function. When harvested at the peak time, antler velvet also contains anabolic substances like testosterone and somatomedin C (also called insulin-like growth factors or IGF). As a result, deer antler velvet is a natural source of hormones that aid muscle growth and development.
Deer velvet contains both IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) and IGF-2 (insulin like growth factor 2). IGF-1 in particular has several benefits for humans. It stimulates the growth of skeletal muscle, cartilage, bone, nerves and skin, making it very important for building muscle and reducing muscle loss due to aging or disease. The added boost in testosterone levels can also help build and tone muscle.
What’s more, IGF-1 speeds up cell repair and muscle regeneration, increasing your body’s ability to recover from injury, workouts and even major surgery.
3. Bone and joint health
Several studies indicate that antler velvet can aid in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Deer antler velvet contains chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate that may help stimulate cartilage repair. Since osteoarthritis is characterized by loss of cartilage in bone joints, consuming deer velvet may help replenish the cartilage that wears away, hence easing joint pain.
Deer velvet also shows strong anti-inflammatory effects, making this supplement useful in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
4. Stimulation of the immune and cardiovascular system
Because of its potent immune-modulating ability, deer antler velvet may be used to strengthen immune functioning and response. A compound in the deer velvet stimulates the production of lymphocytes and increases the number of red and white blood cells that aid in healing and recovery. For this reason, antler velvet is used to complement the body’s natural ability to fight disease.
Deer velvet also supports the oxygen carrying capacity of blood, facilitating healthy circulation. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. In addition, its ability to stimulate red blood cell synthesis improves general cardiovascular health.
Men and women of all ages may benefit from deer velvet. It’s a well-tolerated, non-toxic dietary supplement that can support your health and general well-being. Fitness and strength-training enthusiasts, bodybuilders and athletes often take deer velvet as part of their training programs, and many others take the supplements to support healthy bones, joints and muscles as well as for its numerous other health-promoting benefits.