We are all about eating good whole food, but what about whole animals?Traditionally hunters used the entire animal for food, clothing, or for medicinal use. Now we tend to stick to the meat, fur/hide, and maybe we’ll go as far as to use the bones for broth. Even the organ meat is less popular in Western culture.
Antlers are often used in decoration, but most people wouldn’t think about eating these skeletal extensions. However, the deer velvet antler has been used in Chinese medicine for more than 2000 years. Velvet antler refers to the precalcified growth stage of the antler in the Cervidae family (deer, elk, moose, and caribou). It does not refer to just the outer skin of the antler, but the entire antler itself in this early, soft stage.
Benefits of Deer Antler Velvet
Antlers are a regenerative organ, and it is this regenerative property that has intrigued scientists to find its potential healing properties. In fact, deer velvet antler is the only continuously regenerating organ in the mammalia class of the animal kingdom. Deer velvet antler has the potential to help with many scientific breakthroughs including neuro, blood vessel, connective tissue, cartilage, and bone regeneration. It may also prove insight for organ degeneration, dysplasia, and the treatment of inflammation.
A substantial amount of research has found one of the greats benefits of velvet antler to be its bone development properties. Osteoporosis affects millions of people and can cause serious pain and brittle bones as we age. Adding velvet antler to your diet is a potential way to manage, and stop the harmful effects of osteoporosis.
Velvet antler helps to prevent bone loss. This is important because as we age, calcium will escape our bones, cling to arteries and organs, hardening them, and causing many life-threatening diseases. Vitamin K2 is one important nutrient to help prevent this, but supplementing deer or elk antler into your diet seems to be beneficial also.
Most of the studies looking at the possible health benefits of velvet antler were conducted on rats, but they are believed to have much of the same potential on the human body.
Total mass was increased in rats that had velvet antler supplemented into their diet. This may freak you out and have you thinking, “why would I want to take a pill that makes me put on weight?” Well, the weight gain wasn’t drastic, but it was potentially very beneficial. It wasn’t a gain in fat but increased skeletal density. By improving your bone density, you decrease your risk of breaking bones and reduce your risk of falls.
Velvet antler has shown signs of many additional benefits to its anti-osteoporosis affects. A 2013 review of the traditional Chinese medicine found it to possess, “immunomodulatory, anti-cancer, anti-fatigue, anti-osteoporosis, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-stress, anti-oxidant, hypoglycemic, hematopoietic modulatory activities and the therapeutic effect on mammary hyperplasia.”
These are major benefits, even if they are low-impact effects, to be able to boost the health of the body in these ways is too great to be ignored.
A 2014 study reviewed the bioactive structure of velvet antler and found it to have anti-fatigue, tissue repair, and health promotion properties.
So what makes up velvet antler? Studies have shown the main components are protein, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, barium, strontium, glutamate, and glycine.
Strontium is similar, but softer than calcium, and is found in the bone.
Glutamate is a key compound in metabolism. It helps break down dietary protein and uses it for energy. This is a great benefit of velvet antler. By increasing our energy output, we can burn fat more easily.
Depending on the portion of the velvet antler consumed, it will have different levels of water-soluble extracts, diluted alcoholic extract, amino acids, testosterone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1, and testosterone plus estradiol. Testosterone levels were higher in the middle of the velvet antler, while calcium was increased at the tip. A good velvet antler supplement should be comprised of a mixture of the antler to ensure a well-balanced supplementation. However, this is hard to guarantee and regulate. Overall, it still shows many amazing health benefits.
Velvet antler has natural medicinal properties that may be very beneficial, especially to the aging population. Its regenerative properties are impressive and may hold many keys to healing the body. This is one natural supplement you may want to consider adding to your diet.