Velvet Antler Research
A recent study of American weight-lifters taking velvet antler supplements showed positive results. The subjects in the Benedictine University study were 34 men from 18 to 35 years of age. Each had at least four years of weight lifting experience.
In this double-blind study, the experimental group was given 1,350 mg of velvet antler powder twice a day while the placebo group was given an inert substance. Before and immediately after the ten-week experiment, the subjects were put through a series of tests and measurements.
At the end of the research trial, the weight lifters that had been taking the velvet antler had:
- Less fat on their torsos
- Lower LDG cholesterol levels
- Greater aerobic capacity
- Less muscle damage
- Greater strength
- Greater stamina
The researchers found that by the end of the trial, the athletes on velvet antler had reduced the trunk to limb fat rato from 104.7 to 101.0. There was no measured effect on weight or body mass indices. The significance of this, according to Dr. Craig Broeder the lead researcher, lies in the influence of fat deposition patterns on the risk of heart disease. Increased fat around the trunk is a major cardiovascular risk factor.
The group taking velvet antler also showed a significant decline in LDL cholesterol concentrations by 12.2 per cent. As a result, the LDL/HDL (good/bad cholesterol) ratio also declined 8.4 per cent. This would reduce the groups risk of cardiovascular disease. There was also some evidence that the velvet antler was effective in lowering blood pressure. There were no negative effects observed for the liver and kidney enzyme markers.
In terms of muscle strength, the group taking the velvet antler showed a significant improvement in bench press (4.2 per cent) and squat exercise (9.9 per cent) performance. The placebo group showed no change.
The peak power of the velvet antler group reduced only 0.5 per cent during the anacrobic trials, compared with 3.2 per cent reduction in the placebos. Their average power reduced by 2.1 per cent compared with 5 per cent. They were also about 60 per cent quicker in reaching peak power.
A particularly interesting result was the effect of velvet antler on aerobic capacity. In absolute terms and relative to body weight, it increased significantly 9.8 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively. There was no change in the placebo group. Additionally, during a maximal treadmill test, most subjects in the velvet antler group had a reduced heart response of 5 to 8 beats per minute.
Other benefits of velvet antler were reduced muscle damage and a dramatic improvement in the rate of repair of any muscle damage that did occur. Muscle damage was measured by blood levels of creatine kinase (CK). CK is an enzyme found in cells which helps them source energy during exercise. During an aerobic exercise, some muscle cells break open and their contents find their way into the bloodstream. A rise in CK levels in the blood indicates that muscle damage has occurred, or is occurring. In the velvet antler group, CK levels were 25 per cent lower than the baseline, compared with 11 per cent with the placebos. Two days later, CK levels in the experimental group were 45 per cent below the baseline.
A side finding of this study was that velvet antler may have a potential for the prevention of osteoporosis. The placebo group appeared to lose bone density during the study, which indicated they were over-training. The experimental group retained bone density.
Dr. Broeder says that all the results are very significant differences, especially for athletes who were already extremely fit and training at a high level. Although it was a double-blind study, the ones taking velvet antler knew within two or three weeks that they were taking something really different.
According to Dr. Broeder, more studies are needed to confirm these benefits in athletes and average adults. He is particularly interested in seeing whether velvet antler could help reduce weight and risks of cardiovascular diseases among middle-aged couch potatoes and non-athletes.
(Source: NZ The Deer Farmer April 2004)