Velvet Antler - A Gift From Nature
by Cindy Ewashkiw & Dr. Marion Allen
A recently published booklet, titled Velvet Antler - A Gift From Nature, has already sold over 5,000 copies. This publication was co-authored by Dietary Technologist Cindy Ewashkiw and University of Alberta Professor of Nursing Dr. Marion Allen, provides a wealth of information about velvet antler and its uses. The following excerpt (taken from Issue 7 Volume 2 of the Wisconsin Commercial Deer & Elk Farmers Association) from the booklet describes the physical composition of velvet antler and some of the possible benefits from its use. The booklet's forward clearly states that it is not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of any advice given by health professionals. It does, however, provide answers to many of the common questions regarding the use of the elk velvet antler products. This booklet is an ideal reference for alternative health care providers and marketers of velvet antler products.
What is the composition of velvet antler?
Active ingredients found in velvet antler include a variety of minerals, trace elements, protein, fatty acids, gylcosaminoglycans, growth hormones, and growth factors. These ingredients and their use in the body are outlined in the following tables.
Mineral and Trace Elements
(including all essential amino acids):
Growth Hormones and Growth Factors
What benefits can be expected?
The list of benefits demonstrated by research and noted through anecdotal evidence on velvet antler is lengthy: Though investigation has only just begun in North America, research findings and medical accounts from Asia and New Zealand are already convincing. The reports suggest that velvet antler stimulates the body's metabolism and protects and restores damaged organ tissues by accelerating healing. Velvet antler is also thought to help the body battle invaders that produce inflammation by increasing phagocytic functions. Phagocytic cells, such as white blood cells, surround, eat, and digest cell waste and microorganisms. There is also some suggestion that blood pressure is lowered with velvet antler consumption and enhanced thyroid function.
Velvet antler has gonadotrophic function, which means it enhances the hormone that causes the testes and ovaries to do their work. Historical accounts from Korea refer to velvet antler being used for infertility, miscarriage prevention, and helping pregnant women have an easier delivery.
Research findings, clinical trials, and anecdotal evidence certainly demonstrate the value of velvet antler for health issues. Four key areas of investigation as the effects of velvet antler are: immune system, energy and stamina, arthritis and inflammation, and the aging process.
Help for the Immune System
Having and maintaining a strong immune system is essential to good health. Eating sensibly, getting proper rest, and exercising are all very important factors in staying healthy. Think of your immune system as your own little internal army. Tiny soldiers are fighting off any invaders that dare to enter their territory. The stronger the soldiers are in that army, the better the chances are of stopping invaders before they can cause any damage. This is why constantly nurturing and supporting the immune system is so important to staying healthy.
Researchers in New Zealand investigated velvet antler's effect on human white blood cells because of its long history of being taken for immune system support. Studies demonstrated that aqueous extracts of velvet antler were highly potent in causing an increase in human white blood cell count. This, of course, is a good thing as white blood cells are one of the immune system's first lines of defense when invaders come attacking.
Increasing Energy and Stamina
Easing the Symptoms of Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Disorders
Some of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include joint pain, heat, and swelling, particularly in the morning and after long periods of inactivity. As the disease progresses, the cartilage, joints, ligaments, and tendons begin to breakdown, causing further loss of joint function. Further advancement can affect one's daily activities such as work, social functioning, and eventually even personal independence.
While rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory type of disease, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. Actual breakdown of the cartilage that covers the ends of bones occurs. Osteoarthritis also causes bones to become brittle which, of course, increases the risk of the bones cracking or breaking. It can be a hereditary disease and affects three times as many women over the age of 60 as men.
Many of the nutrients found in velvet antler are important for arthritis sufferers. Glucosamine, chondroitin, sulfate, essential fatty acids, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, growth hormones, and growth factors are all vital for growth and maintenance of joints, tissues and synovial fluids.
Compliance has been met with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations to allow a claim to be made about velvet antler products. The specific claim substantiated by scientific evidence, states that the velvet antler "provides nutritional support for joint structure and function."
Modern research studies continue as people suffering with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis claim relief from painful and swollen joints.
Inhibiting the Aging Process
One of the growth hormones in velvet antler is IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor). A study conducted at Oxford University in England lead researchers to believe that the IGF-1 contained in velvet antler has medicinal value for humans. IGF-1 was shown to promote muscular development, prevent muscular atrophy (breakdown), and slow the deteriorating effects of aging. Further research on the anti-aging effects to velvet antler need to be done.