Can Velvet Deer Antler Boost Testosterone?

I was in Singapore at a zoo in 2011.  We passed by the rhinoceros cages.  The guide stopped our trolly and explained that the Asian and African rhinos are endangered for a very peculiar reason.  It’s not that their habitats are being destroyed, or their meat is delicious, or some virus is wiping them out.  The reason is those damn Chinese.

Thanks to some dumb surviving wives tales, Rhino horns go for thousands of dollars on the Chinese black market.  The Chinese erroneously believe that consuming rhino horn cures impotence, increases testosterone, and makes you piss manliness, when in reality it does no such thing.  In fact, rhino horn is made out of keratin, the exact same material that your hair and nails are made of.

Velvet deer antler consumption is reminiscent of the rhino story above.  Some NFL players and other performance athletes began consuming velvet deer antler for the same reasons as the Chinese and are getting roughly the same results: none.

A little history

The use of velvet deer antler dates back to the Han Dynasty in China and is part of traditional Chinese medicine.  Deer antler gospel spread to Russia then to other neighboring Asian countries like Korea and Japan. By the year 1999, the FDA took notice. It did not take long before this herbal supplement became known globally.

Velvet Deer Antler and its Effect on Testosterone

Back in the 16th century, velvet deer antler was recognized in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a cure to impotence.  Please note that this recognition doesn’t mean much, as blood letting was once a cure for everything.

Proponents of deer antler say that the antler itself contains testosterone.  If this is true, then it’s an artificial source and should carry the same consequences as all exogenous testosterone sources: testicular shrinkage, man boobs, etc.  A certain study wanted to determine the amount of testosterone in the antler’s bone, skin and blood. They found out that testosterone levels were higher in the antler’s blood than in its bone and skin.  The antler contained only trace amounts.  Then another study tested the effect of the antler’s testosterone levels on men. A given dose of 25 mg antler and 250 mg maca, an herbal supplement (read maca’s impact on testosterone), were given to men in oral form to be taken with food. This was a daily regimen for two weeks which showed a definite increase in testosterone levels.  This is kind of a questionable study with two supplements and some sheisty methodology, so I am not buying it.  However, another study observed the effect of velvet deer antler on sexual function in men and their partners. The participants took four capsules of 250 mg dried high quality deer antlers with their breakfast for 12 days. The results showed no significant change in their normal hormone levels and sexual function.  If you’re taking 1000 mg daily of a supplement and not seeing an effect, chances are it’s bunk.

Velvet deer antler does not seem to increase testosterone levels. It may have other therapeutic effects that may boost your health and function in general.

Ok, Will It At Least Help Me Work Out?

People swear by this stuff, although no credible studies exist to demonstrate that it actually works.  You will find a lot of glowing reviews on forums, though. Check out these reviews for yourself.

Hmmm, are there at least any Health Benefits

Arthritis

Rheumatoid and osteoarthritis are inflammatory diseases that affect our collagen. An autoimmune reaction breaks down collagen causing loss of articular surfaces and joint motion. Velvet deer antler was experimented in this study. It is believed that velvet deer antler has an anti-inflammatory effect which can effectively treat chronic arthritis. Doses ranging from 10-100 mcg/kg were administered in rats and showed an improvement in their symptoms. It meant less edema, decrease in osteoclast numbers and improvement in bone mineral and strength.

Nerve growth and repair

Antlers are bone organs from male deer which regenerate yearly. Aside from its bone, supporting tissues such as nerves and collagen also regenerate. Studies have shown that velvet deer antler can also improve nerve growth and repair.  A protein called neurotrophin-3 is a relevant growth factor necessary for neurons in our nervous system. A study found neurotrophin-3 in the different tissues of the antler. Perhaps deer antler can assist in nerve repair.

Anemia

Anemia is the most common hematologic condition and symptom of an underlying disease. Your blood has few red blood cells and hemoglobin causing decreased oxygen circulation.  This study tested its effect in patients with this disease. Several months of treatment showed an increased platelet count and hemoglobin concentration and an improved quality of life.

Side Effects

Velvet deer antler has no known side effects.

Verdict

Doesn’t live up to the hype.  It’s not dangerous or anything, but chances are it does about as much as rhinoceros horn.

 

ADD Versions

  • Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Won’t boost testosterone or change your hormone balance in any way
  • Won’t improve libido or cure impotence
  • Won’t improve physical performance
  • Offers some possibility of bone, nerve, and tissue repair

 

Horny Goat Weed and Testosterone

Horny goat weed is known by many names.  Believe it or not, scientists don’t actually call it horny goat weed, but rather epimedium.  Other names are  rowdy lamb herb or yin yang huo in Chinese. It is a flowering plant found mostly in Southern China, Southern and Eastern Asia and in Europe. This plant is popular for its aphrodisiac effect. Now, we’re talking business.  But will it actually increase your testosterone levels?

Horny Goat Weed and Testosterone

Looks like it will!  According to this study by some Chinese scholars in 2003, Horny Goat weed has both androgenic and anti-estrogenic properties.  That’s one hell of a double-whammy.  You can have very high testosterone levels but if your estrogen levels are equally disproportionately high, it will negate the positive impact all that testosterone was supposed to have.

In this cruel study, rats were injected with a chemical to damage their genitals and gonads.  Ouch.  The control group was left alone and one of the experimental groups was exposed to icariin, an extract of epimedium.  There was also a 3rd experimental group being injected with testosterone but who cares?  That’s like totally not fair and they’re disqualified.  The rats treated with icariin had higher levels of testosterone circulating in their blood, and better restoration of sexual function.

There is definitely a shortage of studies on this, but it really looks like horny goat weed/epimedium/icariin is worth taking to increase testosterone levels and potentially decrease estrogen.  It’s officially getting my thumbs up and I am going to add it to my testosterone challenge supplements regimen.

This NOW Brand Horny Goat Weed is the one I use.

 

Will Horny Goat Weed Really Make You Horny?

In Chinese traditional medicine, epimedium is widely used as a sexual stimulant. Legend has it that a goat herder in China observed his goats setting up mood lighting and popping Barry White records after eating epimedium. These goats indeed got horny, hence the name.

Horny goat weed is named as such because it has properties similar to other PDE5 antagonists such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra. Antagonists to PDE5 cause an increased blood flow to the penis during sexual activity by increasing nitric oxide upon stimulation. Nitric oxide relaxes the smooth muscles of penile tissue giving men an instant hard-on. This was evident in the study performed in a rabbit’s corpus cavernosum. Strips of this tissue were immersed in organ baths with extracts of Epimedium brevicornum Maxim (EbM). It instantly relaxed the smooth muscles in the corpus cavernosum.  Erection inducing indeed, and fairly useful to men with ED I might add.

A doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine from Shanghai, China, Dr. Diao Yuan Kuang, confirmed horny goat weed as an effective sex enhancer.  Decades of practice have proven this herb as an effective sexual tonic for both men and women.

Epimedium Benefits

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a really dangerous cardiovascular disease characterized by hardened arteries. Plaque develops in hardened arteries and blocks vital blood blow. Since horny goat weed has a vasodialating effect, which essentially means it increases blood flow, it might help in Atherosclerosis. It is also useful in recovering from stroke. A certain study on the angiogenesis of Chinese herbal medicines proved that horny goat weed has properties that demonstrate its strong angiogenic activity.

Osteoporosis

A study confirmed that flavonoid extract from epimedium given orally to rats can enhance the development of osteoblasts, a cell necessary for bone formation. This finding showed the possibility of using horny goat weed to prevent osteoporosis.

Antitumor

An extract of horny goat weed, icariin, was found to have an anti tumor effect. This study observed leukemic cells after induction of icariin. After treatment, it showed differentiation of cells and exhibited great potential as an antitumor property. This other study also showed promising results in inhibiting tumor growth.

Weight Loss

The same horny goat weed extract was used in a mixture utilized in the study to prove its effect on weight loss. It was proven effective in this study along with other medicines.

Horny Goat Weed Side Effects

With its manipulation on nitric oxide levels, horny goat weed extracts can be dangerous to your blood vessels causing an increase risk in cardiovascular problems. In long term use, your blood vessels will get accustomed to its vasodilating effects in turn causing low blood pressure.  I don’t know exactly how much horny goat weed you need to take for this to become an issue, so definitely see your doctor.

There have been reports of  tachyarrhythmia and hypomania but no sufficient scientific evidence supports this claim.

Availability

Horny goat weed is sold as a health supplement in the form of a raw herb, capsule, tablet, powder or in a mixture of other supplements. Various brands have different potencies ranging from 5 to 60% of active ingredient. The required dosage to achieve pleasing results still remains undetermined especially since this supplement is not yet regulated by the FDA.  However, according to Dr. John B. Bassett a typical dose of 250 to 1000 mg of horny goat weed daily can give you a satisfying effect.

A.D.D. Version of this post

  • Horny Goat Weed is an ancient Chinese libido booster
  • Alternative Names: Epimedium, Icariin (Epimedium Extract)
  • Strong reason to believe it can boost testosterone and lower estrogen
  • Will definitely make you horny
  • Will expand your blood vessels and increase nitric oxide
  • Might help vs. osteoperosis
  • Might help vs. certain cancers
  • Might help prevent you from becoming a fat goat
  • Has some possible side-effects, check with doc
  • Available in extract from up to 60%
  • Here is the one I use: http://www.amazon.com/Horny-Goat-Extract-Tablets-Foods/dp/B009K6Y448

 

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