In January 2013, the sports world suddenly learned about deer antler velvet. Sports Illustrated published a story that alleged that NFL linebacker Ray Lewis used deer antler velvet to recover from a torn tricep injury during the regular football season. Lewis’ comeback was just short of miraculous, as he was told by his doctor that it was a career ending injury. Lewis denied using deer antler velvet categorically, although evidence suggests he did in fact use it.
The problem for Lewis was that at the time deer antler velvet was listed as a banned substance in most professional sports (it has since been removed though leagues caution against its use). The reason? Deer antler velvet and deer antler velvet extract contains a natural growth hormone know as IGF-1. IGF-1 has anabolic effects. It is particularly good for building muscle and speeding up recovery, two things that professional athletes desire for peak performance.
However, the use of deer antler velvet as a human optimizer is nothing new. In fact, it has been used for over 2,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Known as lu rong, deer antler velvet has been mentioned in ancient scrolls and written texts dating back to 100 A.D. Studies on the substance have been conducted not only in China, but also in Russia, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Though not yet mainstream, the acceptance of deer antler velvet as a legitimate nutritional, dietary and medicinal ingredient is increasing. As more and more people discover the real benefits of the supplement, its popularity will continue to grow.