Velvet antler, elk antler, Cervus elaphus, Cervus nippon
- Indications with proven efficacy:
- Also used for these other indications, but with no proof of efficacy:
Improving blood flow
Improving sports performance
Pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
To stimulate the immune system
- Risk of Drug Interactions: Low
- Adverse Effects: Low
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.
Direction of use
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.
- Side effects
Adverse effects are uncommon when taking deer velvet. Transient and mild intestinal upset may occur.
In theory, women with a history of breast or cervical cancer should avoid taking this product.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Because safety data are lacking, pregnant and breast-feeding women should not take this product.
There are no known interactions with other drugs.
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.
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2010
- Pierce Andrea, Practical Guide to Natural Medicines, 1999
- Passeportsanté.net. Bois de velours. www.passeportsante.net
- Sleivert G, Burke V, Palmer C, Walmsey A, Gerrard D, Haines S, Littlejohn R. The effects of deer antler velvet extract or powder supplementation on aerobic power, erythropoiesis, and muscular strength and endurance caracteristics. Int J Sport Nutr Metab. 2003 ;13: 251-65
- Conaglen HM, Suttie JM, Conaglen JV. Effect of deer velvet on sexual function in men and their partners: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Arch Sex Behav. 2003 ; 32: 271-8
- The Review of Natural Products, 6th Edition, 2010
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