New Zealand scientists have now proved what oriental medicine has known for more than 2,000 years that deer velvet is good for you.
Research results show that velvet stimulates the bodys immune system, which wards off infections.
Research at AgResearch Invermay, near Dunedin, showed that treating human white blood cells with extracts of New Zealand antler velvet stimulated the immune system, as measured by increased production of white blood cells.
This response immunopotentiation in scientific terms is the bodys defence mechanism. Increased numbers of white blood cells are produced to fight "intruder" bugs.
"The implications are potentially very big, although these are early days and there is still more work to be done," said New Zealand Game Industry Board Chief Executive Mr. Rick Christie.
"In the medical area, including western style medicine, this means velvet could be used both for a preventative treatment in its own right and to support some remedial treatments by strengthening the bodys own immune system.
"There are many conditions where boosting the bodys immune system would make a huge difference to the success of other treatments."
"For example, research is presently being undertaken in Korea into velvets effectiveness when used to build up the strength and resilience of patients undergoing cancer treatment."
"Indications so far are very positive and we hope to be able to announce results in the next few months."
"Were not saying that deer velvet is a cure for cancer, AIDS or any other complaint. But the science strongly indicates that deer velvet may be effective in supporting other treatments."
"From the industrys perspective, adding scientific support for traditional usage boosts the products strength in the market."
"There is extensive anecdotal evidence of velvets effectiveness, but now were generating some rational scientific evidence to verify those claims. Thats an important step for velvet in the international natural health market," Mr. Christie said.
The New Zealand deer industry organization, the New Zealand Game Industry Board (NZGIB), commissioned AgResearch scientists, in association with Otago University colleagues, to test velvets effectiveness scientifically."
The industry is now developing industry quality and efficacy standards for velvet products, based on these scientific tests.
Traditionally, velvet is used in Asia as a nourishing tonic especially before winter to prevent illness. It is an essential part of the "promoting wellness" rather than "curing illness" philosophy, on which oriental medicine is based.
Treatment with New Zealand velvet extract, at varying levels of strength, consistently produced this response. There were some variations according to the time of harvesting and section of the antler used.
Preliminary results of a research study to test whether deer antler velvet could improve athletic performance are encouraging.
24 physical education students participated in a "double blind" trial, where neither the athletes nor the trial co-ordinator knew which treatment each group was receiving.
A strong trend was identified. The group taking deer velvet antler showed almost twice the improvement of the group taking a placebo in the amount of work they were able to do in a strength test.
The project was carried out for the deer industry organization, the New Zealand Game Industry Board (NZGIB) by AgResearch, through their joint venture company Velvet Antler Research New Zealand (VARNZ) Ltd.
The 10 week project was conducted at Otago University and medically supervised by Dr. David Gerrard, sports physician and senior lecturer in sports medicine, and Dr. Gordon Sleivert, exercise physiologist.
Dr. Gerrard believes "these early results are a good start, and warrant more research having just scratched the surface of the subject."
"Now weve developed a scientifically rigorous testing basis, we would like to concentrate on velvets effect in building endurance and delaying fatigue a traditional usage of velvet."
"While these results are not statistically significant, some encouraging trends were noted," said Dr. Jimmy Suttie of AgResearch Invermay, who was responsible for the scientific control of the study.
"The athletes were also tested for changes in body composition using a sophisticated DEXA scanner. Although all students lost body fat as a percentage of their body weight, the group taking deer velvet lost more body fat than the control group."
"Contrary to popular misconception, the study showed that improving muscle strength does not necessarily require increasing muscle size. Scanning showed no bulking up of muscles, which suggested the positive results was due to an improvement in the muscle dynamic activity of the students taking deer velvet."
"The combination of our findings is scientifically strong enough to indicate that we could be on to something here, and points the way to further research," said Dr. Suttie.
NZGIB Chief Executive Rick Christie confirmed that the Board will commission more studies into velvets effect on strength and endurance.
"The Korean economic melt down has drastically affected our major traditional market, so developing new markets and new velvet products is a priority for the industry," said Mr. Christie.
The industrys on-going research programme provides scientific support for the quality and efficacy of New Zealand deer antler velvet, which will be increasingly promoted to western markets as a natural health product.
This is the first human trial testing the effect of deer velvet conducted by the NZGIB and AgResearch, and received ethical approval from the Southern Regional Health Authority. It follows a finding last year showing that velvet is effective in stimulating the immune system a traditional usage in oriental medicine to ward off illness and fight infection.
ALDER FLATS, Alta (CP) A study that suggested elk velvet capsules mimic anabolic steroids could give the industry some extra muscle. Elk breeder Kevin Moore said finding another use for elk velvet could lead to a new range of customers for the product. "That part of the market drives the whole elk industry in general," Moore said, "It definitely could be a good thing."
He agreed that if the pills are seen as a safe and natural alternative to anabolic steroids they could find a market among athletes or body builders.
Researchers discovered that University of Alberta Gold Bears football players and RCMP recruits who took the pills as part of a study had testosterone levels as high as if they had been taking anabolic steroids. Those taking 1,200 milligrams of velvet each day for nine weeks had testosterone levels five or six times higher than normal.
Elk velvet used in capsules is trimmed from antlers in the spring when its growing and full of blood. If left, it would calcify and become part of the hard antlers.
Elk velvet is popular in Asia as relief for arthritis pain and other complaints. ....
Dr. Jeong S. Sim, of the University of Alberta, revealed the ancient Asian claims regarding the therapeutic uses of AVelvet Wood@, a natural substance collected from deer antlers. For the benefit of the participants he then identified the active components of this traditional medicinal substance and outlined what is currently known about its pharmacological efficacy. Participants had the opportunity to observe a scientist in the process of validating very old traditional knowledge about a substance almost unknown in our Western culture. Clinical observations show that antler velvet seems to be able to protect and restore damaged organ tissues, promote immune and phagocyte functions and slows the aging process.