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Deer Antler Velvet Efficacy and Ethical Concerns Demystified, and Ensured
Peter Caramico   Jan 28, 2016   Ethical Technology  

Deer Antler Velvet is a complex of hormones, growth factors, and minerals extracted from the antlers of a specific deer. It is used for general health and well being, wound and injury recovery, as well as to enhance libido and improve youthful functions. It is surrounded by many arguments and opinions on efficacy.

I frequently argue with people about Deer Antler’s efficacy, and rather than continue to argue with people, I figure I’ll just post the details of my research and hypothesis here. I believe my hypothesis to be accurate and proven by what we’ve learned from human and rodent parabiosis and the routes of administration from similar pharmaceuticals and supplements that are pure versions of some of the constituents of Deer Antler Velvet.

Variety of Deer and Efficacy:

So it not only comes down to the route of administration but also the age and variety of deer involved. In ancient China where this technology/,medicine was discovered, the Emperors, or maybe just one of them, breed and kept a special variety of deer presently referred to as Pere David’s Deer. It’s a highly inbred variety, though it doesn’t suffer from the maladies of inbreeding and it’s breeding being what it is makes the antlers the deer produce grow very aggressively and very large. These aren’t the deer you see in your back yard, and they couldn’t survive in the wild. They’re a dependent species, the fact of which makes me wonder if there are parties wishing to prevent this dependent species from being bred en masse or whether deer antler made from deer other than Pere David’s Deer is being made simply for the purpose of greed or in some convoluted effort to forcibly drive a dependent species to extinction rather than keep them around only for the purpose of medical and economic exploitation. 

When they get older, and their antlers are no longer trimmed for their youthful hormone yields, the deer look to me as if they’re heads are weighed down due to the weight of the antlers which look to have several times the mass of the bucks I see in my back yard. As far as I am aware, the only remaining Pere David’s deer come from the UK and New Zealand. The Chinese population was said to have been slain and eaten during a popular uprising resulting in only the survival of the UK population as a result of a sale of a number of deer earlier in history. This is where the New Zealand deer are apparently from. I’ve seen DAV that is made in the USA, and that should be a concern if the manufacturer doesn’t specify that they’re only using young deer of the right variety. I’m also aware of Elk Velvet existing, but I’m not sure if it has the potency of Pere David’s deer or not. The rate of growth and perhaps size would likely be an indicator as to it’s potency, but I’m not informed regarding Elk as I’ve only started seeing it recently.

Age of the Deer and How if Affects Safety and Efficacy:

As we see with human parabiosis, young blood or extracts of young blood improve the health of older individuals. Hold that thought though, I want to first give a word of warning and hope on this technology to make sure my readers aren’t neglected… Human parabiosis is a very unsustainable and exploitative treatment and should not be used for anything but research. To gain the benefits of human parabiosis without exploiting poor young people, we’ll need to study it’s effects and the constituents of the blood, and perhaps advance blood cloning technologies that blood banks use. 

To avoid the risk and complications of graft vs. host disease, we’ll need to be able rejuvenate out blood and blood stem cells before we’re doing anything but wasting our time. Until the technology has been developed to this level, one should assume that they may shorten their lifespan and even healthspan rather than extend them (though the particularly aged might be in a good risk/benefit band). Banking of your own blood is also available for future use as are banking of mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue.

Anyways, you want your Deer Antler Velvet to come from deer that are no older than adolescent or the youth equivalency of the youngest person who might take it, otherwise kids in middle and high school are going accelerate their aging to improve performance and it may result in injury. Deer don’t live as long as humans, so sourcing from young deer is very important and there are probably only a few years worth of healthful deer antler that can be utilized from harvesting antlers, otherwise you may only be benefiting from the health of the deer and accelerating your own aging with the chemistry of an aged deer. So using DAV from old deer is like “making a deal with the devil” especially if you’re younger than you’re supposed to be because you’re one of us and actively capitalizing on available rejuvenation therapies (got told I looked 8 years younger than I am today) and supplements. 

I’ve been informed of study by someone in Med School or maybe it was just a warning that was issued that deer antler may lead to something like muscle wasting, weakness or injury (they said it makes some people really weak) and the use of old deer or the wrong deer is what I expect to be the reason behind this. I have not however seen the study or warning myself, but it makes sense given what we know about human parabiosis that this could be a valid publication. You want to dilute your old blood with young blood cuz the old stuff is making you older. I’d like to see a certification on deer antler products assuring the buyer that they are receiving extracts made from the antler of Pere David’s Deer which are no older than adolescent, though I will discuss other concern regarding the use Pere David’s Deer which might mean we can only ethically use lower potency extracts from common varieties of deer or should look for other alternatives such as a comparable and improved equivalent of deer antler or our own youthful hormone profiles that’s made using engineered bacteria.

Efficacy and Routes of Administration:

Be sure to read the warning paragraph below. Every study that I’ve seen claiming DAV doesn’t work or can’t be absorbed involves either Testosterone or IGF-1 measurements being taken after oral administration (that means people taking pills) of deer antler. Pills are not only wasteful considering the limited availability of adolescent DAV, but they do in fact either not work or don’t work as expected. It is well known to the pharmaceutical industry that testosterone, human growth hormone and probably IGF-1 can’t be absorbed orally. Testosterone, when prescribed, is given via injection or applied via creams, gels, or underarm roll-ons on specific parts of the body where it has been shown to get into the blood stream or what is called bioavailable. Many men use T replacement therapy and the fact of it’s bioavailability is well known. We also see in the case of glucocorticosteroids that the same areas where T is bioavailable via dermal application (application to the skin) are also used for dermal application of T and have similar bioavailability. Wound healing studies have shown that DAV is useful when applied dermally for wounds, but in these tests, it wasn’t placed on areas of the skin when the hormones are more rapidly absorbed such that they would produce significant increases, and these studies shouldn’t be expected to show these results. The hormones may still be absorbed in these areas, but it will take much longer, in fact one may benefit from DAV application to a variety of areas anyways to have more uniform and sustained benefits. 

Though this may be wasteful, I haven’t seen enough data. Look up the package insert for dermally applied T if you want to know where it is best applied. But as a general rule, assume that areas where skin is thin and near the production zones for sex hormones are the best. I’ve applied deer antler to my underarms but seemed to get some inflammatory pain from doing so. I wouldn’t recommend it, but it could be the brand. There is a definite lack of useful information regarding the quality indicators of the product. Those that do advertise potency may do so based on the volume of active ingredients, but this doesn’t really mean anything and could even be a bad thing. If you have a higher volume of DAV extract in a product and it’s made from an aged deer, you’re just aging yourself faster. The bottle needs to say that it comes from an appropriately young deer and good practices need to be established to ensure that teenagers on middle and high school sports teams or using it for other reasons aren’t using deer antler made from a deer that aren’t appropriately young for them. In practice, disobedient adolescents will find and use the stuff in ignorance and we need to protect them from this. 

In ancient China, Pere David’s deer were hunted for sport and eaten when they were too old to be useful for Deer Antler Extracts and most animals used for food are culled early once they reach a percentage of their maximum weight, otherwise it costs too much to feed them and it would drive up prices resulting in starving poor people. Until lab grown meat is at parity or beyond for nutritional content, taste, and cost, I don’t see a problem with people eating Pere David venison. The alternative would be higher priced DAV. Though as Pere David’s Deer is likely considered an endangered species, it may not be legal to eat, though it is dependent on us to trim it’s antlers. I imagine that once we have hormone complexes produced by more ethical and efficient means, they will not only be superior, but will also not require us to commercially exploit Pere David’s deer, who as a dependent species belongs in zoos, or should be modified to be returned to the wild, (it is only what it is because of thousands of years of breeding after all). It’s just not right to let them go extinct. 

Presently, so long as the Pere David’s Deer is only used when it is in its adolescent phase, or if it were to benefit from perennial youth gene therapies, using Deer Antler Extracts support the continued survival of the deer as a dependent species and we shouldn’t think twice about using deer antler properly to support their continued existence as long as only adolescent deer are used to prevent anyone from aging prematurely or unnecessarily and to preserve the substance’s health benefits. We can neither afford to over exploit Pere David’s Deer or humans. Meaning that we can’t sell extracts of more aged deer b/c it accelerates aging and is inferior as a product, and that we can’t not continue to profit from the deer to keep them alive. If either is to be the case, the substance needs to be banned altogether and Pere David’s deer needs to be kept only in zoos until they can be modified to survive in the wild and released slowly to ensure long term survival.

Warning and My Experience with Ingredients:

I haven’t seen many DAV products come in creams, and I’d rather not take the time and make the added complication to apply it with my fingers and then have to wash them. It is far simpler to just take a sublingual spray and spray it where you want it. Those DAV products which are suitable for dermal application are most often mixed with other things to boost sex and growth hormones synergistically or simply create a patentable formula. Some of these ingredients in my experience are too acidic, such as Aloe Vera Juice which is apparently used to boost the absorbability when taken sublingually and maybe when swallowed. Sublingual preparations that are sprayed or dropped under the tongue work well and are fast acting, though perhaps used too rapidly compared to dermal application. I haven’t tried all varieties of DAV preparations, however those including the following don’t seem to give me problems, though one of them may be responsible for the aforementioned irritation to my underarms with continued use:




Eurycoma Longifolia

Alcohol (may sting a tiny bit if applied to a wound)

Glycerin or Vegetable Glycerin


What to do About Pere David’s Deer:

One thing that’s come to mind which I’ve also been reading about that could help us solve the issue of Pere David’s Deer as a dependent species is knocking out it’s myostatin gene. This might give it enough extra strength to survive in the wild and could lead to an extension of it’s useful life. I’ve also just now remembered an article I read about there being thousands of genes in humans that could be knocked out to improve our lifespans. Perhaps it would be possible to remove these equivalents in the Pere David’s Deer population for more productive and beneficial DAV extracts. Doing this for the benefit of Pere David’s Deer might also give us a model to assess as we consider knocking out genes in humans.

Peter Caramico is a self taught nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical enthusiast, Lead Navigator of, prolific volunteer elsewhere, and interested in actionable and available rejuvenation, perennial youth, and life extension strategies.


I sure hope this site doesn’t make a habit of posting articles like this one. I’m pretty sure there are already one or two places on the web where you can get “information” on miracle diet supplements and similar crack-pottery.

The author, Peter Caramico, did not cite a single study- peer reviewed or otherwise- that support the claims he is making.

Here is an abstract linking to actual studies…

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