Principal Proposed Uses
Deer velvet is the common name of a product made from growing antlers of deer, during a stage when they are covered in soft velvety hair. New Zealand is a major exporter of deer velvet, shipping tens of millions of dollars worth to Asia and the U.S. each year.
According to Asian tradition, deer velvet has “tonic” properties, meaning that it tends to enhance energy and vitality. More recently, it has been called an “ adaptogen .” This term, invented by early Soviet scientists, 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, sleep deprivation, toxic exposure, radiation, infection, or psychological stress. Furthermore, an adaptogen should cause no side effects, be effective in treating a wide variety of illnesses, and help return an organism toward balance no matter what may have gone wrong.
The only indisputable example of an adaptogen is a healthful lifestyle. By eating right, exercising regularly, and generally living a life of balance and moderation, you will increase your physical fitness and ability to resist illnesses of all types. The herb ginseng is widely said to have adaptogenic properties. However, there is no reliable evidence that any herb or supplement actually has adaptogenic properties, and the term is not accepted by conventional medicine.
What is Deer Antler Used for Today?
In the 1960s, an injectable 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? )
A typical dosage of deer antler is 1 gram daily, taken all at once or divided throughout the day.
Another set of risks derives from the proposed effects of deer velvet: raising male hormone levels. If deer velvet did in fact increase male hormones as it is advertised to do, this could lead to a range of potential problems; however, as noted above, there is no real evidence that deer velvet actually does raise such hormones.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -