URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/808.html

Deer Velvet

What is it?

Deer velvet covers the growing bone and cartilage that develops into deer antlers. People use deer velvet as medicine for a wide range of health problems.

Deer velvet is used to boost strength and endurance, improve the way the immune system works, counter the effects of stress, and promote rapid recovery from illness. It is also used at the onset of winter to ward off infections.

Other uses include treatment of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, migraines, muscle aches and pains, asthma, indigestion, weak bones (osteoporosis), headache, liver and kidney disorders, cold hands and feet, soreness and weakness in the lower back and knees, chronic skin ulcers, and overactive bladder. It is also used to promote youthfulness, sharpen thinking skills, protect the liver from toxins, stimulate production and circulation of blood, and increase the number of red blood cells.

Some people use deer velvet to increase levels of certain sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), improve fertility, increase interest in sexual activity (as an aphrodisiac), and treat male sexual performance problems (erectile dysfunction, ED). Women use deer velvet to reduce the dose of estrogen they need in hormone replacement therapy. They also use it for menstrual and menopause problems, vaginal discharges, and uterine bleeding.

In children, deer velvet is used as a tonic for children with “failure to thrive,” mental retardation, learning disabilities, slow growth, or bone problems including rickets.

In herbal combinations, deer velvet is used to improve athletic performance; to improve eyesight and hearing; to reduce stress; and to treat arthritis, osteoporosis, “tired blood” (anemia), women’s reproductive disorders including premenstrual syndrome (PMS), ED, and skin conditions. Herbal combinations including deer velvet are also used to increase blood circulation to the brain and to delay or reduce signs of aging such as tissue, bone, and muscle degeneration, and declining mental skills.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for DEER VELVET are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Athletic performance. Early research suggests that taking deer velvet extract or powder by mouth for 10 weeks does not improve strength or aerobic capacity in active males undergoing strength training. However, there may be small improvements in knee extension strength.
  • Sexual desire. Early research suggests that taking deer velvet powder by mouth for 12 weeks does not improve sexual function or desire in people in stable relationships.
  • Muscle aches and pains.
  • Immune system function.
  • High cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Asthma.
  • Indigestion.
  • Acne.
  • Cancer.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of deer velvet for these uses.

How does it work?

Deer velvet contains multiple substances including the female sex hormones estrone and estradiol. It also contains substances which may help cells grow and function.

Are there safety concerns?

Deer velvet is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 12 weeks. It is not known what possible side effects deer velvet might have.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking deer velvet if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Deer velvet might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don’t use deer velvet.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs)
Some birth control pills contain estrogen. Deer velvet might have some of the same effects as estrogen. However, deer velvet isn't as strong as the estrogen in birth control pills. Taking deer velvet along with birth control pills might decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills. If you take birth control pills along with deer velvet, use an additional form of birth control such as a condom.

Some of these drugs include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.
Estrogens
Deer velvet might have some of the same effects as estrogen. But deer velvet isn't as strong as estrogen pills. Taking deer velvet along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.

Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of deer velvet depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for deer velvet. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

Andouiller de Cerf, Antler Velvet, Bois de Cerf, Bois de Cerf Rouge, Bois de Chevreuil, Bois de Velours, Bois de Wapiti, Cervus elaphus, Cervus nippon, Cornu Cervi Parvum, Deer Antler, Deer Antler Velvet, Elk Antler, Elk Antler Velvet, Horns of Gold, Lu Rong, Nokyong, Rokujo, Terciopelo de Cuerno de Venado, Velours de Cerf, Velvet Antler, Velvet Dear Antler, Velvet of Young Deer Horn.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Wang, B. X., Zhao, X. H., Qi, S. B., Yang, X. W., Kaneko, S., Hattori, M., Namba, T., and Nomura, Y. Stimulating effect of deer antler extract on protein synthesis in senescence-accelerated mice in vivo. Chem Pharm Bull.(Tokyo) 1988;36:2593-2598. View abstract.
  2. Bubenik, G. A., Miller, K. V., Lister, A. L., Osborn, D. A., Bartos, L., and van der Kraak, G. J. Testosterone and estradiol concentrations in serum, velvet skin, and growing antler bone of male white-tailed deer. J Exp Zoolog.A Comp Exp Biol 3-1-2005;303:186-192. View abstract.
  3. Hemmings, S. J. and Song, X. The effects of elk velvet antler consumption on the rat: development, behavior, toxicity and the activity of liver gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase. Comp Biochem Physiol C.Toxicol Pharmacol 2004;138:105-112. View abstract.
  4. Sleivert, G., Burke, V., Palmer, C., Walmsley, A., Gerrard, D., Haines, S., and Littlejohn, R. The effects of deer antler velvet extract or powder supplementation on aerobic power, erythropoiesis, and muscular strength and endurance characteristics. Int J Sport Nutr.Exerc.Metab 2003;13:251-265. View abstract.
  5. Zhao, Q. C., Kiyohara, H., Nagai, T., and Yamada, H. Structure of the complement-activating proteoglycan from the pilose antler of Cervus nippon Temminck. Carbohydr.Res. 6-16-1992;230:361-372. View abstract.
  6. Conaglen, H. M., Suttie, J. M., and Conaglen, J. V. Effect of deer velvet on sexual function in men and their partners: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Arch Sex Behav. 2003;32:271-278. View abstract.
  7. Kropotov, A. V., Lisakovskaia, O. V., and Khotimchenko, IuS. [Seasonal features of the effect of adaptogens on sex behavior of experimental animals]. Eksp.Klin Farmakol 2001;64:60-62. View abstract.
  8. Zhang, H., Wanwimolruk, S., Coville, P. F., Schofield, J. C., Williams, G., Haines, S. R., and Suttie, J. M. Toxicological evaluation of New Zealand deer velvet powder. Part I: acute and subchronic oral toxicity studies in rats. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2000;38:985-990. View abstract.
  9. Ko KM, Yip TT, Tsao SW, et al. Epidermal growth factor from deer (Cervus elaphus) submaxillary gland and velvet antler (abstract). Gen Comp Endocrinol 1986;3:431-40. View abstract.
  10. Anon. Human clinical trials show significant results for New Zealand deer antler velvet's effect on sports performance. www.prnewswire.com (Accessed 7 March 2000).
  11. Goldsmith LA. The velvet case. Arch Dermatol 1988;124:768.
  12. Kim HS, Lim HK, Park WK. Antinarcotic effects of the velvet antler water extract on morphine in mice (abstract). J Ethnopharmacol 1999;66:41-9. View abstract.
  13. Huang KC. The pharmacology of Chinese herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, LLC 1999;266-7.
  14. Bensky D, Gamble A, Kaptchuk T. Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press. 1996;483-5.
Last reviewed - 02/14/2015