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

 

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