Antler velvet supplements are used around the world for various applications. A medicinal extract taken from the antlers of deer, its use began thousands of years ago and is currently used as a powder-filled capsule or in hot tea. An antler velvet supplement might improve athletic and sexual performance as well as provide anti-inflammatory effects for overall body health.
The use of antler velvet has been documented on Chinese ancient scrolls that date as far back as 100 B.C. The Chinese believed that an antler velvet supplement in their diet increased blood circulation, which led to more energy. The consumption of antler velvet harmonized the balance between Yin and Yang, an intricate healing concept that was a fundamental idea of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). As a result, the extract was in high demand throughout Asia, with Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Russia and China as interested buyers.
The term "velvet antlers" refers to the early stage of the deer antlers when the texture of the horn is still soft. Antler velvet supplements are produced before the horn can calcify and become hard. A local anesthetic usually is applied to the location of the horn while an experienced individual extracts the antlers from the head of the deer. New Zealand is one of the largest suppliers of velvet antlers. After the horn is extracted, it is dried either by a hot water dip or by air-freeze drying and then ground into a powder-like substance.
A doctor might prescribe an antler velvet supplement to be taken as a capsule filled with the ground powder. Some people combine antler velvet with other medicinal herbs and steep it in hot water to make a tea or a broth. Koreans commonly make a tonic drink using antler velvet and imbibe it before the winter months to strengthen their immune systems.
An antler velvet supplement can have an effect on muscle endurance, strength and aerobic power. Researchers have found that consuming antler velvet might increase an athlete’s overall performance by improving his or her body’s ability to engage in physical activity. An antler velvet supplement also contains a significant amount of sex hormones such as testosterone, which could be the reason for anecdotal observations about increased sexual drive and performance when taking the supplement.
Some people also report additional health benefits, although none of them have been clinically tested and proved in scientific studies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that an antler velvet supplement might be beneficial for people who are suffering from osteoporosis and arthritis. It might also help individuals recover from injury or illness by boosting the immune system.