Velvet antler, elk antler, Cervus elaphus, Cervus nippon
Deer velvet has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Deer velvet is a substance found on the antlers of red deer and elk at the beginning of their growth. The substance is harvested from the antlers before it becomes calcified. The part of the antler used depends on the problem that requires treatment. The substance is usually dried and reduced to a powder. Stores usually carry capsules containing this powder.
Deer velvet is made up of cartilage but its exact composition remains unknown. It appears to contain several possibly active components. The fact that the product contains all of these components may explain the beneficial effects of deer velvet. It is believed to contain 50 to 70% of proteins, amino acids, fatty acids and lipids. It also appears to contain chondroitin sulfate, collagen and other glucosamine-related substances.
Little information about proper dosages is available; typically, doses of 0.9 to 2.4 grams have been used. Stores usually carry products dosed at 200 to 250 mg of deer velvet powder.
In 2004, Canada adopted new regulations that control the manufacturing, packaging, labeling and importing of natural health products. The new regulations also include an adverse reaction reporting system. Products that conform to the regulation's criteria are identified with a natural product number (NPN) and can be legally sold in Canada. This number indicates that the product meets specific criteria for safety and purity, not that it is effective for any indication.
Medicinal plant contents vary naturally from plant to plant - just as fruits from the same package may vary in taste and texture. There is no standard to measure the active content of each plant. Thus, efficacy of natural products should be expected to vary from brand to brand as well as from bottle to bottle of the same brand.
For more information about the Natural Health Products Regulations, or to check if a product has been assessed, visit the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/prodnatur/index-eng.php.
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