It is well-known that in the Northeast of China there are 3 treasures – deer antler velvet (Lu Rong), Ginseng (Ren Shen), and carex meyeriana grass (Wu La Cao). Among them deer velvet antler is one of precious traditional Chinese herbs, which has long been viewed as a nourishing tonic of curing all deficiency syndromes, especially deficiency of the kidney. Others include weak constitution, premature aging, deficiency of qi, blood, and semen, and so on. Reportedly, deer antlers contain 25 kinds of amino acids and a variety of vitamins that can improve the body’s immune system and promote hematopoietic function. In his famous medical work of “Compendium of Materia Medica”, Li Shizhen reviews that this herb is good at reinforcing kidney to strengthen yang, promoting essence production, enriching blood, supplementing marrow, and invigorating bone. To put it simply, the tender deer horn is one of the best bets on speeding up the energy recovery process.
What is deer antler velvet?
It mainly refers to the young, non-ossifying, and pilose antler on the head of Cervus nippon Temminck or Cervus elaphus L., which are animals in the family Cervidae. Hence, it is also known as Elk horn, Elk Antler Velvet, Velvet Antler, Deer Horn, cartialgenous, young pilose antler of a stag, cornu cervi pantotrichum, pilose deer horn, Antler Velvet, Velvet of Young Deer Horn, Elk Antler, Velvet Dear Antler, and more. In China it is mainly produced in Jilin, Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai and other places. Medicinally it is usually cut with knife or sawed during summer and autumn when the bucks’ newly sprouting antlers haven’t been ossified yet. When it is used medicinally, it should burn the hair off, slice, and then dry in the shade or at the fire. As far as the quality is concerned, the best deer antler velvet comes from cervus nippon, and in turn followed by Manchurian Wapiti and wapiti in northwest.
Cervus nippon is a medium-sized deer, about 1.5 meter in length and 90cm in shoulder height. Bucks are with a horn and the intact one has 4 forks in total. Hind is hornless. Obvious infraorbital gland looks like crack. Large ears are erect. Neck is slender. There is long hair beneath neck and chest. Tail is short. Buttocks are with obvious spots. Most of them now are reared in captivity. And habitat in the wild includes mingled forest, mountain, steppe, and the edge of forest.
In terms of chemical constituents, estradiol, cholesterol, etc. can be isolated from the fat-soluble components. Estradiol and estrone, its metabolites in the body, are the main ingredients that generate estrogen-like effects in antler. Among amino acids, glycine is the most abundant one. It still contains neutral sugars and glucosamine. And its ash contains calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, etc. In addition, its water extract has large amounts of gelatin.
Deer antler velvet benefits
Does deer antler velvet work? Yes if it is used properly. As a commonly used tonic, it is suitable for both young and old. To begin with, it can enhance immunity, increase body resistance to disease and aging, sharpen the brain, and strengthen memory. This makes lots of sense to the elderly since they are generally with kidney deficiency, chills, fatigue, impotence, frequent urination, enuresis, etc. Then, it is helpful to women, in particular in the cases of infertility, deficient cold, postpartum body weakness, and metrorrhagia and metrostaxis. Furthermore, today too many young and middle-aged people are listless, lacklustre, weak, panting, bleary-eyed, and with dry and withered hair and obvious eye bag. With the help of deer antler, they can instantly become energetic, radiant, and physically healthy. Finally, under the guidance of doctors it can be used to treat pediatric liver and kidney deficiency, slow growth, delayed walking, delayed eruption of teeth, delayed closure of the anterior fontanelle, soft bone condition, and more. And today in the market you can buy deer antler velvet products easily, including spray, supplement, extract, and more.
Modern pharmacological actions of deer velvet antler
1. Large dose of pantocrine can narrow the amplitude of the heart contraction, result in peripheral vasodilatation, and lower high blood pressure;
2. Moderate doses of antler extract can significantly enhance the activity of isolated heart, increase the cardiac contraction amplitude, speed up heart rate, and thus increase the cardiac output;
3. It has obvious anti-lipid peroxidation and anti-stress effect.
Selected deer antlers herbal remedies
The Chinese Materia Medica tells that it is sweet or salty in flavor and warm in properties. And it covers meridians of kidney and liver. Essential functions include tonifying kidney yang, boosting essence and blood, strengthen bones, and expressing toxin and outthrusting pus. Main indications are deficiency of kidney yang, ED (erectile dysfunction), spermatorrhea, womb cold causing infertility, emaciation due to consumptive disease, fatigue, chills, dizziness, tinnitus, deafness, soreness in back and waist, soft bone, five pediatric retardations, uterine bleeding, gynaecological diseases, and dorsal furuncle. Recommended deer antler velvet dosage is from 1 to 3 grams in powder or pills.
1. Lu Rong San from Gu Jin Lu Yan Fang (Recorded Prescriptions in Ancient and Modern Times). It works with Dang Gui (Dong Quai), Gan Di Huang (Rehmannia), Dong Kui Zi (Musk Mallow Seeds), and Pu Huang (Cattail Pollen) to treat hematuria.
2. Xiang Rong Wan from Bai Yi Xuan Fang (Precisely-selected Prescriptions). It joins hand with She Xiang (musk) to treat diarrhea.
3. Bai Lian Wan from Ji Sheng Fang (Life-saving prescriptions). It combines Bai Lian (radix ampelopsis), Gou Ji (Cibotium Barometz), and Ai Ye (Mugwort Herb) to treat unmarried girls’ cold and deficiency of Chong and Ren Channels and clear leucorrhea.
4. Lu Rong Wan from Tai Ping Sheng Hui Fang (Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief). It couples with Long Gu (Dragon Bones), Sang Piao Xiao (Ootheca Mantidis), Jiao Hong (Chilli red), Fu Zi (Prepared Aconite Root), and Shan Zhu Yu (Asiatic Cornelian Cherry Fruit) to cure small intestine deficient cold and large amounts of urine.
5. Lu Rong Jiu from Pu Ji Fang (Prescriptions of Universal Relief). It matches with Shan Yao (yam) for the treatment of weakness, impotence, dark complexion, frequent urination, and loss of appetite.
Deer antler velvet side effects and contraindications
Is deer antler velvet safe? Well, it really depends. The hormone substances contained will stimulate gastrointestinal mucosa and thus cause gastrointestinal reactions, which include abdominal pain, nausea, cold sweat, and even upper gastrointestinal bleeding in severe cases. In addition, the injection of antler extract (pantocrine) may also result in allergies, pale complexion, palpitation, shortness of breath, chest tightness, sweating profusely, shock, and even death.
As for drug interactions, its active ingredients will be destroyed by reacting with tannic acid in fruits and vegetables. And it shouldn’t be used in people who has sudden onset of severe pain and are newly infected and accompanied with fever. In addition, deer velvet antler may also do harm to sturdy people who don’t need it and people who take too much of it. The regular adverse reactions are feeling of fullness or pressure in the head, chest tightness, epistaxis, and so on. If the above-mentioned symptoms occur, stop the drug immediately to observe.
And relevant deer antler velvet studies show that taking lactobacillus simultaneously can tremendously reduce the gastrointestinal reactions. And the result will be much better if taking fermented extract liquid of lactobacillus and antler. What’s more, it can bring out the best in each other if combined with yi-complementing herbs, which include Tie Pi Shi Ke (Dendrobium officinale), Yu Zhu (radix polygonati officinalis), Mai Dong (Radix Ophiopogonis), Nan Sha Shen (adenophora tetraphylla), etc.
So, the best way of consuming this herb is starting from small dose and then slowly increasing it. Otherwise, using large dose all of a sudden is prone to dizziness, red eyes, and epistaxis.