Sports performance has become increasingly competitive at the elite and recreational levels, and as such athletes are seeking any advantage they can get over their competitors, often turning to substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) such as deer antler velvet.
Deer antler velvet has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years with health claims ranging from enhanced immune system function, improved athletic performance, enhanced sexual and cardiovascular function, testosterone production, and muscle recovery.
More recently, it became popular after being used by professional baseball players to help recover from injury and created such an uproar that it was quickly added to the banned substances list.
Deer antler velvet is the soft growing antler tissue which is cast-off every year and re-grown by several species of deer.
Deer antler velvet is thought to have substantial quantities of biologically active substances such as amino acids, collagen, glucosamine, growth hormones, and much more.
Although a number of health and human performance effects have been attributed to deer antler velvet, the scientific rationale behind these beliefs is ambiguous and the claims are not supported by rigorous scientific research.
This study says ’These findings do not support an erythropoetic or aerobic ergogenic effect of deer antler velvet. Further, the inconsistent findings regarding the effects of deer antler velvet powder supplementation on the development of strength suggest that further work is required to test the robustness of the observation that this supplement enhances the strength training response and to ensure this observation is not a type I error.’
In fact, all of the meta-analysis and randomized controlled trials involving real people say roughly the same thing. From rheumatoid arthritis to aerobic power to testosterone boosting effects and everything in between, deer antler velvet appears to be useless when it comes to human health benefits.
And this study suggests that deer antler velvet may actually contribute to increased cancer risk.
As far as research involving real people there is insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for:
But it’s not all bad!
It appears that deer antler velvet does have beneficial effects on fatigue and muscle strength…in mice. You can learn more about it here.
While deer velvet antler does appear to be safe, it also appears to be ineffective for its most commonly touted health claims.
However, if you’re looking for a safe and effective way to support optimal testosterone levels you can find it here.