Deer and elk shed and regrow their antlers every year. Antlers are the only tissue in mammals that can regenerate. During the growth phase, antlers lengthen by up to 1 cm each day.
The immature, growing deer antler is what is known as deer antler velvet.
The name comes from the soft, velvet-like protective layer covering the growing bone and cartilage. The soft velvet wears away as the antlers harden, exposing the hardened antler bone. It takes about 90 to 120 days for deer antlers to reach maturity, where they become hardened through a process known as ossification.
All the immature deer antler, not just the soft velvet layer, is what makes deer antler velvet.
For safety reasons, deer farmers remove immature deer antlers during the growth phase. In certain countries, including New Zealand and Australia, antlers are removed under anesthetic and only by veterinary surgeons or people certified to do so. A subsequent and valuable byproduct is deer antler velvet.
Deer antler velvet has a long, 2000-year history of medicinal use. Many cultures and traditions, including Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), have historically used deer antler velvet. Deer antler velvet continues to play an important role in TCM. With its regenerative capacity, deer antler velvet is an important animal medicine that is inspiring investigation into its chemical composition, bioactive components, and pharmacological effects in Western Medicine and across the globe.
Despite long held differences in philosophy of TCM and Western Medicine, there is a slow but increasing interest in TCM by western communities. This is particularly evident as more people look to therapies and treatments that are natural (non chemical) non prescriptive, relieve symptoms and balance body functions to allow healthy lifestyles.
Available data clearly shows the significant research on deer antler that continues to be undertaken around the world and provides strong support to the growing acceptance that deer antler velvet is a substance with significant future medical application potential.
Deer Antler Velvet Components
The complexity of deer antler velvet formation is attributed to an assortment of key compounds and active ingredients. Over 200 compounds including proteins, hormones, lipids, enzymes, minerals, and trace elements are found in deer antlers during their growth phase. In addition, deer antler velvet contains 13 growth factors, 21 amino acids, and 20 glycosaminoglycans.
Synergistic Effect of Components
It is believed that the unique combination of beneficial components promote health better than the separate use of each individual constituent. In other words, the benefits of the complete product are greater than the sum effect of all components. These include repairing and regenerating tissues, growth stimulation, and performance enhancement. These actions are due to naturally occurring hormones in deer antler velvet that aid growth and development.