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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine September 1999

PRODUCTS

The Life Extension Foundation regularly profiles and evaluates important new products on the market, often making them available directly to you, as well as to Foundation members at a discount via the Life Extension Buyers Club.


Deer Antler
A Natural Phenomenon

The popularity and use of velvet antler consumption is on a rapid rise in the U.S. With its TV debut, this once "secret" and mysterious substance is no longer a stranger to the anti-aging and health industries. Since antler possesses a myriad of attributes, many are beginning to pay attention. Athletes are known to consume antler to boost strength, nerve function and endurance, and to accelerate recuperation. Others have touted antler as a natural alternative to Viagra. And the anti-aging and wellness circles rely on antler to promote youthfulness, mental clarity and joint mobility, among other benefits.

Since the 1920's, antler extracts have been manufactured by Soviet state agencies for use in hospitals to assist with the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. It has also been used to accelerate the post-operative recovery of patients. In Korea-the biggest market in the world for antler-advocates claim this product can increase the stamina of athletes, improve mental function, treat sexual dysfunction and help control disease.

Antler is said to build up the body's natural defenses against disease, and provides increased energy for both men and women. According to reports from the Orient, Russia and New Zealand, antler generates hemoglobin (blood protein), controls blood pressure, increases lung efficiency, improves glandular functions, sharpens mental alertness, heals stomach ulcers and eases the diseases associated with aging.

According to Chinese herbal doctors, antler is used to strengthen memory and balance the endocrine system. The Chinese use antler as a tonic to maintain vibrant health and strengthen a weak body, promote rapid healing and regeneration of damaged tissues, treat menstrual disorders, and much more. According to studies by a Japanese scientist named Wang, a 1988 report explains that antler may have an anti-aging effect.

Nutrinfo is a food and nutritional, technical and legal consulting firm out of Watertown, MA. It provided a review of velvet antler, complete with a composition list of antler components including proteoglycan, a protein/carbohydrate of which chondroitin sulfate (CS) is by far the predominantly ingredient.

Nutrinfo's director of sciences, Thomsen Hansen, Ph.D. stated, "Serious scientific substantiation exists for claims regarding the anti-inflammatory actions of velvet antler. [It] contains respectable amounts of chondroitin sulfate, which supports antler's anti-arthritic benefits." The Nutrinfo report also stated: "Based on scientific support for the anti-inflammatory claims, we have determined that reasonable basis exists that velvet antler provides nutritional support for joint structure and function."

CS belongs to the class of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) which are naturally occurring high viscosity carbohydrate polymers. In the body, GAGs are important constituents of connective tissue in both soft tissue and in the skeletal system. CS is the most abundant GAG in the human body and is used extensively as a medicinal agent, which helps establish the CS safety in antler. Clinical studies have found that orally administered CS is absorbed into the body and is active against the symptoms of arthritis. A subsequent study evaluated the clinical efficacy of CS in knee osteoarthritis. Treatment of CS for this condition over a 90 day period provided significant relief from symptoms as reported by the patients.

Upcoming studies are targeted toward investigating the claims made by oriental and New Zealand advocates of antler. Such reports indicate antler's benefits for strengthening the immune system, reversing aging, boosting muscle strength and endurance, and stimulating sexual vitality.

-John Abdo


References

  • Burgio, Clinical study to identify the health benefits of velvet antler.
  • Chemical Characteristics and Processing Technology of Alberta Wapiti Velvet Antlers, Wildlife Production Conservation and Sustainable Development, University of Edmonton, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
  • Chen, J. Chinese Materia Medica, 1992.
  • Conference on "Health Problems Related to the Chinese In America," U of C, School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA, 5/82.
  • Conte et al, Biochemical and pharmacokinetic aspects of oral treatment with chondroitin sulfate, 1995.
  • Conte et al, Metabolic fate of exogenous chondroitin sulfate in man, 1991.
  • Deer Farmer magazine, Wellington, NZ, 9/92, deer antler velvet.
  • Deer Farmer, 11/86.
  • Gerrard, clinical evaluation of New Zealand deer velvet antler on muscle strength and endurance in healthy male university athletes.
  • Morreale et al, Comparison of anti-inflammatory efficacy of chondroitin sulfate and diclofenac sodium in patients with knee osteoarthritis, 1996.
  • National Geographic, 10/86.
  • North American Elk Breeders Association; News Release, 1/8/99, 1/15/99.
  • Nutrinfo, Watertown, MA, review for the North American Elk Breeders Association, 12/15/98.
  • Palmiera et al, Metabolic fate of exogenous chondroitin sulfate in the experimental animal, 1990.
  • Sim and Sunwoo, Antler products for the treatment of osteoarthritis, NAEBA article.
  • Sunwoo et al, (a) Chemical composition of antlers, 1995.
  • The Velvet Antler Industry, 1983, Texas A&I University, Kingsville, TX.
  • Velvet Antlers for Medicine, University of Edmonton, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 6/90.
  • Wang, Chem. Pharm. Bull, 1988.


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