Deer antler velvet has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Its purported benefits include improved athletic performance, muscle strength, endurance, and recovery. Deer antler velvet is available in supplement form and is often taken by mouth or applied to the skin.
There is some scientific evidence to support the use of deer antler velvet for improving athletic performance. In a double-blind study, 28 healthy men were given either deer antler velvet extract or a placebo for four weeks. Those who took the deer antler velvet saw an increase in skeletal muscle mass and a decrease in body fat, while those taking the placebo saw no change.
Similarly, a study involving 60 athletes found that those who supplemented with deer antler velvet had increased muscular strength and endurance, compared to those who did not. And in another study of rats, those given deer antler velvet showed an improvement in swimming performance.
Tanejeva conducted a clinical study in 1969 where participants were put on a stationary bike and their work rate was recorded. One half of the males received Pantocrin, while the other half took a placebo. The total amount of work completed by the individuals who got deer antler velvet extract increased more.)
Tanejeva also researched the impact of deer antler velvet in runners competing in three-kilometer races. In the study, 50 men ran the distance and their finishing time was recorded. Deer antler velvet extract was given to half of the participants, who then repeated the race. The Pantocrin group subsequently finished the race in a faster average time than the placebo group.
The beneficial effects of deer antler velvet on muscular strength and endurance have been scientifically demonstrated in recent studies (Slievert, 2003). In a 10-week strength training program, 18 males were randomized and blinded. Those who took deer antler velvet had greater maximal aerobic capacity, increased strength in the bench press and leg squat, and reduced body fat compared to the placebo group.
Athletes have also been known to use deer antler velvet as a way to hasten recovery from injuries. One study looked at the effect of deer antler velvet on wound healing in rats. The rats were divided into two groups: one that received an extract of deer antler velvet, and one that did not. The rats in the deer antler velvet group showed a significantly faster rate of healing, compared to the rats in the non-deer antler velvet group.
The bottom line is that there is some scientific evidence to support the use of deer antler velvet for improving athletic performance, muscle strength, endurance, and recovery. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects. If you are considering taking deer antler velvet supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor first.
While the above studies suggest that deer antler velvet may improve certain aspects of athletic performance, there is still not enough scientific evidence to recommend its use as a supplement. More research is needed to better understand its potential benefits and risks. If you are considering taking deer antler velvet, talk to your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it is right for you.