by P. S. McNeary
reprinted with permission of North American Elk Breeders Association
For more than 2000 years, a remarkable natural remedy called velvet antler
has been prized by healers in various cultures around the world.
In China, Korea, Japan and Russia, velvet antler has
reportedly been used to prevent, heal and relieve ailments and injuries.
Today, a vast body of research conducted in those countries is now
revealing an impressive array of reported abilities of velvet antler to
reduce inflammation, influence body metabolism, support immune function,
protect damaged tissues and affect blood, liver and kidney function and
more. In fact, laboratory analyses now show that velvet contains an
amazingly comprehensive nutritional profile including collagen, amino
acids, essential fatty acids, minerals, trace minerals, and other
functional proteins, all vital components for human metabolic function.
Remarkably, velvet has gone virtually unnoticed by western
nutritional supplement marketers?until now.
What is Velvet?
Velvet or velvet antler is harvested annually from naturally farmed elk
livestock. Male elk grow and naturally shed a set of antlers every year.
When elk antlers are "in velvet" it is the most "nutrient
abundant" phase of the antlers' incredibly prolific growth cycle. It is at
this time every spring, that breeders of elk collect the velvet antler
under hygienic supervision. This process is not harmful to the elk and the
velvet antler is an annually renewable resource. Once the antler is
removed, it is then processed, analyzed at a laboratory, encapsulated and
ultimately packaged for the consumer as a nutritional supplement.
North American Elk Breeders Association and Nature's
Since its inception in 1990, the North American Elk Breeders Association (NAEBA)
has sought to bring this highly renowned supplement to the American
consumer. Nature's VelvetTM is the name used to describe
velvet antler products marketed by members of the North American Elk
Breeders Association. NAEBA's express purpose is to support the production
of the highest quality elk and elk velvet products, and the processing and
marketing of all North American velvet antler products. Best practices for
management of North American elk and Quality Assurance Standards for elk
products has been developed and published by the international, non-profit
Osteo-arthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is the most
common form of arthritis. Many factors can initiate osteo-arthritis,
including injury to cartilage, as well as the aging process with or
without injury. Osteo-arthritis occurs when the cartilage, which acts as a
cushioning shock absorber between the bones in the joints of hands, hips,
knees or back, begins to break down, leading to significant pain and
Recently, the ability for Nature's VelvetTM
to "support and restore joint structure and function" (as a result of
osteo-arthritis) was substantiated by scientific evidence in compliance
with FDA regulations. This means that validated scientific studies from
around the world prove that velvet antler is a significant
anti-inflammatory agent for the symptoms of osteo-arthritis and possibly
other types of acute chronic inflammation as well.
Within the comprehensive network of velvet's nutrients,
some, such as glycosamino glycans, calcium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty
acids, certainly contribute to joint support and relieving inflammation.
Recently however, research has established that the high level of
chondroitin sulfate found in velvet antler acts like a "liquid magnet"
attracting fluid into the proteoglycan molecules to ultimately help
support human and animal cartilage. This is critical because this fluid
acts as a spongy shock absorber and attracts nutrients into the cartilage.
Without this fluid, cartilage becomes malnourished, drier and more
fragile. In fact, there appears to be a correlation between joint
cartilage affected by osteo-arthritis and reduced levels of chondroitin
sulfate. Therefore, studies have definitively confirmed that the
chondroitin sulfate in velvet antler actually "helps restore joint
function" in people with osteo-arthritis. At the time of the writing of
this publication, researchers are also evaluating of velvet antler will
also be awarded additional health claim status for "supporting joint
structure and function" resulting from rheumatoid arthritis. It is no
wonder that health consultants are referring to velvet as a "comprehensive
arthritis complex" of nutritional components.
A Bright Future for Nature's Velvet
Biochemical testing for native collagen in antler is expected to further
verify that velvet "supports joint structure and function" resulting from
common symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Collagen constitutes more that a
quarter of the total fibrous protein which works together with the
connective tissues of the human body. These tests could well validate
velvet as one of the most scientifically substantiated nutritional
materials associated with the treatment of symptoms of arthritis.
What is Nature's Velvet?
The unique health benefits associated with Nature's VelvetTM
are attributed to the biochemicals that regulate its cell physiology and
make it the most rapidly growing organ in the adult animal kingdom. When
the elk antler is "in velvet", it contains the maximum possible levels of
healing properties. Nature's VelvetTM is humanely and
hygienically removed in late spring. If it is not removed at this time,
the antler will begin to harden and calcify. In the fall, during rutting
season, the antler, if it has not been removed, can actually become
dangerous to the livestock animal and the herd.
North American elk antlers are shed naturally every winter
and begin the growth process all over again in early spring. In fact,
within the first 70 days of growth, the antlers of North American elk can
grow to over 40 pounds.
Elk have the ability to rapidly heal their own broken
bones, torn muscles and severed tendons. The elk is the only animal that
is known to utilize self-healing powers to regenerate bone, muscle and
tissue. It is these properties that, in fact, produce the antlers
Nature's Velvet and Research
It is noteworthy that velvet antler has historically been the subject of
numerous studies conducted at universities, hospitals, and institutes,
etc. Currently, researchers are investigating the role of Nature's
VelvetTM in studies associated with anti-aging, immune
support, mood disorders, blood enrichment, chronic joint pain of osteo-arthritis,
the side effects of chemotherapy, bone and muscle growth, joint
restoration, healthy sexual function in men and women, and increased
energy levels. The following represent a sampling of research studies
associated with the potential health benefits of velvet antler:
- Increased IGF studies in England - Nature's VelvetTM
is high in IGF-1, an insulin-like growth factor. A study at Oxford
University has linked this rapid growth to increased medicinal value in
humans for promoting muscular development, preventing muscular atrophy,
and slowing the deteriorating effects of aging.
- Anti-tumor effects studied in New Zealand - studies on mice
have shown anti-tumor activity in velvet antler.
- Blood benefits studied in China - studies with velvet antler
have shown positive results in improving blood parameters and an
increase in the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin in blood.
- Heart benefits reported - various studies report an increase
in heart strength and the volume of blood pumped through the heart.
- Improved circulation studies in China - the polysaccharides
in velvet antler have been linked to biological activities, such as
improving circulation, reducing the blood's tendency to clot, decreasing
risk of stoke, and improving general cardiovascular heath.
- Improved mood support widely studied - the inhibitory effect
of velvet antler on monoamine oxidase activity has been associated with
an increased availability of neuro-transmitters to the brain, resulting
in enhanced mood.
- Steroidal tendencies studied in Canada - recent clinical
studies from the University of Alberta in Canada with the Alberta Police
Department and the University of Alberta football team have shown the
levels of testosterone in certain dosages of velvet build and tone
- Increased energy studies in Russia - the velvet extract
pantocirn has been shown to increase the work capacity in mice.
Good News for U.S. Consumers
Until recently, the Korean and Chinese markets were consuming the world
supply of Nature's VelvetTM. Producers of Nature's
VelvetTM have known its powerful abilities and have been
attempting to introduce it to the Western world but the Asian market was
insatiable. The recent Asian financial crisis has caused the foreign
market to collapse, leaving, for the first time, an opportunity for this
extraordinary product to be processed here in North America. The fact that
elk antler is used to treat a wide variety of health conditions does not
mean it is a wonder cure. However, because many illnesses are the result
of nutritional deficiencies, it appears that the wide spectrum of
nutritional components in velvet positively address these imbalances in a
save, gentle manner, with no side-effects.
Nature's VelvetTM is an all-natural,
regenerative, sustainable resource and a comprehensive nutrient.
Nature's VelvetTM supplements are currently marketed as
encapsulated, 100% whole velvet antler, liquid extracts and powdered
extracts. As Nature's VelvetTM marketers expand their
product lines, consumers will find velvet antler sold in a variety of
other health-related products.
The North American Elk Breeders Association, the American
Elk Products Board, and the Elk Research Council are supporting further
research in the United States into the extensive reported health
attributes of Nature's VelvetTM.
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producing districts. Kor. J. An. Nutr. 18(3), 173-178, 1994.
- Chen et al. Inhibitory effects of the extract of pilose antler on
monoamine oxidase in aged mice. Ch. J. Chin. Mat. 17(2), 107-128, 1992.
- Clifford et al. Can an extract of deer antlers alter cardiovascular
dynamics? Am. J. Ch. Med. 7(4), 345-350, 1979.
- Conte et al. Biochemical and pharmacokinetic aspects of oral
treatment with chondroitin sulfate. Arzneim. Forsch. 45, 918-925, 1995.
- Huang, et al. A new monitoring system of cultured myocardial cell
motion effect of pilose antler extract and cardioactive agent on
spontaneous beating of myocardial cell sheets. Chem Phar. Bul. 39(2),
- Ivankina et al. Prostaglandin-like activity, fatty acid and
phospholipid composition of sika deer (Cervus nippon) antlers at
different growth stages. Comp. Bio. Phys. 106(1), 159-162, 1993.
- Kim et al. Anti-tumor activity of fermented antler on sarcoma 180 in
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- Morreale et al. Comparison of the anti-inflammatory efficacy of
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- Palmiera et al. Metabolic fate of exogenous chondroitin sulfate in
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- Price et al. Cells cultured from the growing tip of red deer antler
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- Sunwoo et al. Isolation and characterization of proteoglycans from
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- Zhang et al. Purification and partial characterization of
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