Doping with Deer Antlers

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Recently Yahoo! Sports published an article titled “Deer antlers?” (yes, deer antlers) by Dan Wetzel, This article discussed the supplement deer antler velvet and its use in the NFL. In related news, recently appointed head football coach for the Oakland Raiders, Hue Jackson, was forced to cut ties with a supplement company promoting an oral spray containing deer antler velvet.

Deer antler velvet, an ancient Chinese medicine, has been used for thousands of years to treat a myriad of ailments. Contrary to the article in Yahoo! Sports, deer antler velvet is not “a soft coating that covers deer antlers”, but the entirety of the antlers before they become calcified. At that stage the antlers are loaded with nutrients and can be removed without harming the animal. One leading manufacturer of an antler velvet supplement claims the following 25 typical benefits have been seen in 90% of their users within the first month of use.

  • A dramatic increase in energy, endurance, and stamina.
  • Deeper, more restful sleep. Feel vitalized upon awakening.
  • More youthful appearance. Less wrinkles. Smoother skin.
  • Improved mental clarity, intelligence, and memory.
  • Less aches and pain, stiffness, immobility.
  • Improved body tone. (Fat loss and / or increased musculature.)
  • Less depression. More joy – sense of well being. Handle stress better.
  • Increased libido. Better, more satisfying love making.
  • Relief from ailments or health problems.
  • Increased athletic performance and skill.
  • Improved hearing, eyesight, taste, smell, and feeling.
  • Improved cardiac function.
  • Increased bone density, strength, and health.
  • Prevention of injury through stronger bodily functions.
  • Quick wound healing and recovery when an injury does occur.
  • Efficient cellular function for dramatic slowing down of the aging process.
  • Reduced hunger pains, cravings, and addictions.
  • Increased immune function.
  • Thicker healthier hair, more natural hair color.
  • Healthier and thicker nails.
  • Hormonal balancing, especially for women.
  • Absence of seasonal allergies and ailments.
  • Improvement in blood sugar levels.
  • Increased job skills, creativity, and performance.
  • Savings of a small fortune. Save at least $200 per month on food, drugs, supplements, medical bills, and lost work. How?
Radioactive toothpaste anyone?

Radioactive toothpaste anyone?

These claims are reminiscent of the radioactive products back in the early 1900’s; Radiation will rejuvenate you and make you feel better. We all know how that turned out–radiation poisoning and widespread death.

After reading the benefits of taking deer antler velvet, you would think this stuff would be taken by everyone and would be the best selling product ever invented. Well, that’s not the case. A leading manufacturer claims that their deer antler velvet:

“…contains hundreds and hundreds of nutrients. All of which are bio-available, naturally bonded to protein enzymes, living, and synergistically working together. This is unlike the synthetic supplements being sold today which have none of these benefits. (NOTE: 95% of all supplements sold today are man-made synthetics.)”

While many of today’s supplements are synthetic, there is no evidence to support that an all-natural product has components that are “synergistically working together”. Researchers require physiological evidence to support findings as to why a supplement works. Deer antler velvet is nothing more than a cocktail of nutrients and chemicals found in foods we eat or make in our body. Antlers are made by mammals; humans are mammals, so it makes sense.

Yet, the topic in the Yahoo! Sports article focused around illegal substances taken by players in the NFL. The author writes about deer antler velvet saying that, “For the elite athlete, experts say it’s essentially a human growth hormone”. However, this claim is not justified and not accurate.

Deer antler velvet does contain the banned substance IGF-1, often linked to growth hormone as it is a byproduct of human growth hormone. However, there is little evidence indicating supplementing with IGF-1 will improve perform miracles:

“It’s one of the proteins that is increased in human growth hormone … it’s considered performance-enhancing,”
“It’s similar to HGH in that it aids in recovery. It helps build tissue, and strengthen tissue – more than you can ever do by training alone. Any preparation that is not naturally occurring is banned. Taking IGF-1 through deer antler is banned as well.” (From the same Yahoo! Sports article)

IGF-1 has been shown to produce similar results to those found when taking GH in healthy adults, such as enhancing muscle development and reducing muscle breakdown. However, these subjects were given 100 micrograms of IGF-1 per kilogram of body weight two times per day in addition to 10 micrograms per kilogram of body weight every hour 16 hours thereafter. A 154 pound (70 kg) man would need to consume 25.2 million nanograms of IGF-1 per day to have the same effects as taking growth hormone.

So how many nanograms are in each dose of dear antler velvet? The same leading manufacturer who made all the claims above indicates “Each bottle of Royal Velvet does contain between 3,000 and 5,000 nanograms of IGF-1 from antler velvet.”

A bottle contains around 180 sprays, and a typical dose is three sprays. Thus, a single dose of deer antler velvet contains between 50 and 84 nanograms of IGF-1. In order to mimic the research study that found IGF-1 to have similar benefits to growth hormone you would need to consume between 1,500,000 to 906,000 sprays PER DAY: that’s between 8,333 to 5,033 bottles per day. Think of the cost alone.

Claiming that deer antler velvet is “… similar to HGH in that it aids in recovery. It helps build tissue, and strengthen tissue – more than you can ever do by training alone.” Is absurd. IGF-1, maybe, in high doses, but not deer antler velvet. Does anyone really think that ground-up deer antlers will result in increased performance similar to taking synthetic growth hormone? Recreational IGF-1 supplementation can range from 20,000 to 200,000 nanograms, while less then reported in the earlier study, you would still need to consume between 4 and 40 bottles per day, and the benefits would be anecdotal at best.

So what’s the big deal then? IGF-1 is still a banned substance; even taking 1 nanogram is illegal, even if it does nothing for you. The problem with deer antler velvet is that the amount of IGF-1 is so small that it is nearly impossible to detect in a blood test. Exercising alone can modify IGF-1 levels in the body far greater than taking deer antler velvet. Specifically, IGF-1 levels have been shown to increase by as much as 20% after resistance training for 13 weeks. During, immediately after, and several minutes after exercise, IGF-1 levels can be either higher or lower than during rest (see here, here, and here).

Even the type of protein you eat may influence IGF-1 content in the blood. Therefore, trying to identify if an athlete is consuming small quantities of IGF-1 is all but impossible, unless you catch them taking the supplement first-hand. But why take the risk if there are no benefits?

It should also be noted that research on actual deer antler velvet has indicated no changes in hormone levels (see here and here). Thus, deer antler velvet does not alter hormonal responses to any extent beyond exercise alone.

If athletes work out hard and eat right, they will get all the IGF-1 they need. If you decide to take a supplement or an ancient Chinese medicine, make sure you investigate what’s in the product. Even a small dose of something illegal is illegal. Coaches should educate their athletes as to the importance of researching products before they start taking something that could be illegal, or worse, fatal.

Dr. Jordan Moon, PhD, CPS, CSCS*D, HFS
Dr. Moon is the Department Head of Sports Health and Fitness at the United States Sports Academy. He has trained athletes at all levels including professionals in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League, as well as college athletes and teams in addition to youth and fitness clients.

  • Deerantlervelvetson

    Dr. Moon is a hater….Deer antler velvet works…I have been taking it the past months prior to athletic performance and can definitely feel a difference….Athletes all over the world have been utilizing deer antler velvet for all the benifits you can achieve from it. This guy discredits proven results. I think Dr. Moon needs a little deer antler velvet to try so he can see it for himself. I can’t believe this article even got published. DR…Dr are not always right I dont care how many titles he has because he is clearly wrong…It wouldnt be banned if it didnt benifit

  • Dr. Moon

    I apologize if this article came across as anti-deer antler velvet, but I am a LEGAL supplement supporter.

    I am not saying there are no benefits or that it does not work. All I am saying is that “the small amount of IGF-1 in deer antler velvet does not alter hormonal responses to any extent beyond exercise alone.” Performance improvements cannot be related to the IGF-1 in the product. But, who knows what else in the product may be increasing performance. There could be something (or several things) that help performance, but what are they?
    My point is that the list of reported benefits seems disproportionate to the scientific research conducted using deer antler velvet and that ANYTHING with IGF-1, regardless of the amount, is illegal to use because IGF-1 is a banned substance in most professional and all Olympic sports.

    I “discredited proven results”? Show me the scientific research that can substantiate all 25 “typical benefits” and I will write a follow-up story. BUT I WILL NEVER PROMOTE A PRODUCT THAT CONTAINS A BANNED SUBSTANCE. Anecdotal “proven results” are not enough to substantiate claims… But I doubt that athletes believe and/or use all the products they endorse. Do you really think Ben Roethlisberger and Jerry Rice actually wear Magnetic Therapy Bracelets? (http://www.acemagnetics.com/magnetic-therapy-bracelet.html). If they do and feel that this item gives them more “energy and balance” it is all in their head, there is ZERO scientific proof that magnetic bracelets can do anything beneficial, let alone improve performance. The placebo effect is a powerful thing in sports and athletic performance, as well as everyday living!

    If it works for you and you like the results and are not a competitive athlete, then go ahead and continue taking it, but I would spend my money on something that is scientifically proven to work, like creatine and/or beta-alanine, for which we know the direct physiological contributions that increase performance.

    • Teresa

      Hello, 
      I for one don’t feel you are a “hater”.  I appreciate the information you shared in fact.  I have taken enough science and statistic courses to know when certain results sound fishy and with your article this was not the case.  I think it’s funny that someone commented that you seemed “anti-deer velvet”, because a lot of the information I had read before I read your article seemed very “pro-deer velvet”.  Scientific results should never seem PRO anything.  Objectivity is by definition a neutral plane.   I will research further your words of course :).  But I agree with you that when it comes to new health products I trust the science first.  The problem is getting your hands on legitimate scientific proof that has not been manipulated for financial gain or misinterpreted by marketing departments and journalist who know little science to begin with.  

      • Doc34

         Deer/Elk velvet even tricked nfl/mlb players into using it, they get no benifits and even the miniscule igf-1 could get them caught and punished

        • Dr. Jordan R. Moon

          We really need to help educate players and coaches about banned substances. Too many supplement companies out there are trying to make a quick buck. They don’t care about the players, all they care about is money, and that is a bad situation when athletes have disposable income and little education in the field of sports nutrition and supplements. This is one of the reasons the United States Sports Academy exists, to help educate athletes and coaches so they can make better decisions.

          I appreciate your comments Teresa and Doc34

  • Galexo77

    I am currently taking the Ultimate Spray by SWATS, I have no doubt that it works. Im now 33 and I was starting to take longer to recover from workout to workout. For example, it took me a whole week to recover from an upper body workout. This week I worked the upper body hard Three times. It’s unbelievable. There have been so many improvements in many areas of my life the past month and a half. Its no placebo, I’m feeling powerful, healthy and positive. Im really happy with the results. Since i feel so much more energy for life i also just joined a hot yoga studio that has kickboxing, kettle bells, and also joined a great gym with two huge lap pools. I am going to start training simply to be the best I am. There is a challenge out there called the 4 hour body by Tim Ferriss, sounds interesting , definitely buying that book as well. I sleep well so i have time. Guys try the antler velvet stuff,  quite simply, it works.

  • Anonymous

    I have been taking the Deer Antler Ultimate Spray from S.W.A.T.S  for a month and a half now, there is only one word to describe it, AMAZING!  I used to do upper body once per week, this week I did upper body three times and have achieved incredible results in my chest. I am currently working out twice a day with no fatigue. I sleep better and rest only one day. At work I am on the go and have been double as productive as before. I am really happy thus far with the results. I have recommended this spray to my friends and family. Definitely worth every cent. I guess the only thing I don’t like as much is having to clip my nails every two days. They have been growing so fast.

    • Dr. Jordan R. Moon

      Galexo, did you really need two posts to make your claims? You are making the same claims as the manufacturers. Are you a supplier or manufacturer or the founder of SWATS Mitch Ross? It sounds like you are.

      I am happy that this product works for you. HOWEVER, it is STILL ILLEGAL. The ironic thing about the company called Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS) is that they sell a product WITH STEROIDS.IGF-1 IS A STEROID NOT AN ALTERNATIVE!Major League Baseball is now having a problem with this product. In fact, an article was just published today in Yahoo Sports (http://www.thepostgame.com/features/201108/deer-antler-supplements-might-be-kryptonite-pro-sports-drug-policies) discussing several of the same issues I discuss above. Even an NSF International research scientist questions if IGF-1 is in the product.

      Now the NFL and MLB have sent warnings about this product, not because it works, or even because it causes an athlete to fail a drug test (“None of the athletes who have admitted using The Ultimate Spray to ThePostGame has tested positive for either IGF-1 or methyl-testosterone.”), but because “it may contain IGF-1″.

      Bottom line: IGF-1 is a banned substance regardless of where it comes from. Taking a product with a banned substance is still in violation, even if there is not enough in the product to show up in a drug test or to influence performance.

      ALL COMPETITIVE ATHLETES SHOULD AVOID THIS PRODUCT AND ALL PRODUCTS CONTAINING IGF-1. 

      • Galexo77

        Sir, I am not a manufacturer but a believer in ancient 
        Medicine that works. I believe that so called Doctors like yourself would rather treat disease instead of cure it. Deer Antler Velvet has been used in Asian medicine for thousands of years. It is a natural form of supplement that does a lot more than build muscle. You can call it a steroid all you want but just know that the real wrong in all this is that the reason this company swats ultimate spray is so controversial is because the pharmaceutical companies ( and doctors Like you who make commissions from these companies) don’t want people to know about this natural supplement because it would cost them Billions of dollars in profits. Profits they make from Keeping people unhealthy! Thanks for your concern but I feel that you are the one with a vested interest in bashing this company. You are in favor with pharmaceutical companies who don’t give a damn about people. People like me.  Swats works and I stand behind them 100 percent. Why don’t you try the ultimate spray before you so adamantly pursue a quest against it.

        • Dr. Jordan R. Moon, PhD

          Galexo, thank you for your feedback on this topic, I think you bring up some good points. However, you need to read my posts again, I am not “pursuing a quest against” deer antler velvet, I am discussing the claims around IGF-1 and how it’s a banned substance. I will not promote a product that contains a banned substance even if it works. Like I said before:

          I am not saying there are no benefits or that it does not work. All I am saying is that “the small amount of IGF-1 in deer antler velvet does not alter hormonal responses to any extent beyond exercise alone. Performance improvements cannot be related to the IGF-1 in the product. But, who knows what else in the product may be increasing performance. There could be something (or several things) that help performance, but what are they?

          You bring up a good discussion topic regarding pharmaceutical companies and natural products. This has been a debate for decades and there will always be two sides. I am not a medical doctor and I don’t profit from pharmaceutical companies; I am an educator and a researcher. 

          I am not out to “bash” a company, but I will tell the truth using facts, that’s what education is all about. You don’t have to believe my opinions, use the facts to come to your own conclusions and feel free to argue your own opinion. I base my opinions on scientific evidence not anecdotal claims. I would love to do a research study on the SWAT deer antler velvet, obviously there is more that needs to be done.

          If you are not a competitive athlete and you feel there is nothing wrong or harmful with this product and it works for you, then by all means spray away. Just educate yourself and use facts to support your opinions and justification for taking the product. This goes for everyone, not just you Galexo77. 

          I say show me the data… But send me a bottle and I will try it, I will give you my complete honest opinion.

  • Michael Cavicante

    My name is Michael and have now been using “Royal Velvet” for 6 weeks and to say that it has changed my life would not be an exaggeration. I broke the growth plate in my left arm when I was 11 years old and has since suffered arthritic pain which has made it impossible for me to sleep soundly at night, and as I have gotten older, (I am 45 years old) I have been unable to continue to lift weights as I used to be a champion power-lifter in the Navy.

    Since I have started using “Royal Velvet”, the pain is virtually gone, I am lifting weights again, while recently maxing out on my bench-press at 335-lbs (I weigh 225). Not to mention that I have in fact experienced all of the benefits listed above and in just 6 weeks on this product, I am in the best shape that I have been in in the last 15 years. Some people screw with me and call it the “Placebo Affect” which means that because I believe that it’s supposed to work, it is working (a mind thing).

    Well, I am here to tell you there is no mind thing in me increasing my bench-press back to well over 300lbs and no mind thing as to how great, rejuvenated and better I feel. This stuff could balloon to $200/mth and I would still pay it because it has totally been worth it. It is the best thing that has happened to me in reference to my health in a long time and I am so glad that this medical miracle was found!!

  • Mike_nelson21

    Funny, all the “pro” posters mention specific brands. Fishy indeed.

    • Dr. Jordan R. Moon

      Good observation Mike :)

      I just wish they could discuss this topic in an educated manner using scientific facts.

      • buckcurious

        In all fairness to the one poster, he named a brand specifically named in the original article. I am curious to see how all this plays out over time. I have purchased a bottle to try for myself. Other than a multivitamin, I havent used a supplement in 20 years. From my own personal position, if it has caused or may cause people to test positive for banned substances then some kind of reaction must be taking place. 

        One quick note about steroids, if everyone is so worried about it in sports that just enforce laws that are already on the book and keep congress out of pro sports and working on real issues. Sorry for the side bar.

        • Dr. Jordan R. Moon, PhD

          Buckcurious, this product has not caused anyone to test positive for a banned substance, that is my point. There is not enough of the banned substance IGF-1 in the product to show up on a test. The levels in your body of IGF-1 fluctuate up and down. The only way someone could get in trouble for using this is if they are caught with the bottle or caught using it, nothing will show up on a drug test because the dose is soooooo low.

          Let me know how it works out for you.

          Also, you bring up another good point about regulating steroid use in pro sports. This is another blog discussion, but the argument is that all steroids should be banned or that they should be legal and monitored by doctors. This is similar to the medical marijuana and legalization debate, but again, this is a whole other animal…

  • Fijianplaya

    Doctor are just business men and deer velvet is bad for business..doctors like jordan moon have been and alway will be puppets for drug companies. Only thing these doctors are taught to do is give patients drugs, if that dosnt work give em more drugs.
    How to be a doctor.
    1. Ask patient for their symptom.
    2. Google symptoms.
    3. Select a treatment.
    4. Prescribe drugs.
    5. Make sure patient makes follow up appointment.

    Bottom Line is deer velvet is only illegal cuz the drug companies are not promoting it. And to you jordan moon don’t knock it till you try it. Your just another Puppet.

    • Dr. Jordan R. Moon

      Fijianplaya,  I am not a medical doctor and I don’t profit from pharmaceutical companies; I am an educator and a researcher. I think your animosity towards medical doctors facilitates your desire to take natural supplements like deer velvet. I see no harm in this, there will always be people who share your opinion about medicine and medical doctors. However, are you a doctor? Did you go through medical school? Do you “really” know what it takes to be a doctor? Probably not, you are just voicing your opinion like the rest of the people who have posted positive claims for deer velvet without justification and/or facts. Will attacking someones justified opinion actually make others agree with you? No, if anything, posts like this hurt the products image. I would love to have an educated discussion about this product using facts, not just a bunch of posts from people making wild claims and assumptions.

  • Cars0nz1234

    You guys are stupid, It is only illegal in sports related events

  • Dr. Jordan R. Moon

    As long as you are not a competitive athlete Michael, keep on sprayin. I appreciate you posting your experience and am glad you are feeling so good. I have no doubt that you and many others are experiencing positive side effects, there may, in fact, be something in the product that actually does work, not the IGF-1 though. I would have liked to do a case study on you to look at several different variables to see what, if anything, is/was going on.

    My problem is that people make claims all the time about products that don’t work or that they don’t use. We really need more than anecdotal claims, we need scientific facts to support the claims. More importantly, why should we believe you, or anyone making claims without scientific facts? This is why we do research.

  • Hockeyshot66

    unless you have tried and tested it then you cannot prove anything. I can spout facts that I read from another source too. It is not illegal like you claim, it is banned in professional sports. There is a big difference between illegal (which it is not) and being banned in sports.

  • Daclassact

    I have been taking Deer velet for about 3 weeks and I must admit, I do feel a bit more aggressive, harder and more motivated ( I will not mention a brand as I am not involved with a company).

    There are soo many supplements out there it is really hard to navigate. I also take ZMA and Tribullus ( however you spell it).

    If it doesn’t work how come it is banned?

  • Stallbaum1

    Doctor your Article is Spot on. This crap is nothing more than snake oil It doesnt work. If it did they would not have som many haters or doubters. 

  • Curtis

    There are studies from all around the world that support the claims of antler velvet. So all those studies are not true?  Also velvet antler is the second most taken supplement in the eastern market so it is like there vitamin C. So it is taken by millions of people around the world.  So I guess the real question is do you believe some one whom is paid by the rich to get you on a synthetic drugs. They claim 100% of American over 50 is on some type of medication.  So the real issue is that doctors are not looking out for the best interest of there patients in the U.S.. Doctors are just modern day drug pusher for the rich. There are more legal drug over dose then illegal over doses. Deer Antler Velvet is not banned in any sport! The NFL recanted its first asinine statement that it was banned. The MLB never said it was banned! So where did you get your information that it was banned. IGF1 is not banned because if it was then steak, milk, and so would be banned too. Synthetic IGF is. Tell the truth. Velvet Antler has been taken for 1000 of years and just because Dr. Jordon has not educated him self about natural cures and the history of the product and the uses of the product. Sport performance is just a small part of what deer antler velvet dose for people. Most people take it for an anti-inflammatory. So did it accure to you that maybe they were taking it for energy or mobility or recovery from injury. So all the athletes are full of it too when they claim they see great results from the product? No you read some article that was completely inaccurate about everything.  It is the whole horn used they do not scrap the velvet off. Velvet describes the stage of development. Veterinarians are recommending it to reduce tumours in dogs and mobility but they are full of it too I take it? When I was racing the enduro circuit all the doctors were say salt is bad for you. What are they saying now? Well I found out real quick a low salt diet will kill you quick. Hyperthermia is what you get from a low salt diet. So I take it DR. Jordon has all his athletes on low salt diets because that is what we are told salt is bad for you but if you don’t have it you die. That is why Gatorade is a salt drink with some flavouring. But that does not work either.

    • Jordan R. Moon, PhD

      Curtis, I think you missed the point here. We are discussing SPORTS PERFROMANCE ENHANCEMENTS, no other uses of the product. However, I would love to see peer-reviewed scientific literature supporting just one of the anecdotal claims. 

      Also, you say that “It is the whole horn used they do not scrap the velvet off. Velvet describes the stage of development.” while I say “Deer antler velvet, an ancient Chinese medicine, has been used for thousands of years to treat a myriad of ailments. Contrary to the article in Yahoo! Sports, deer antler velvet is not “a soft coating that covers deer antlers”, but the entirety of the antlers before they become calcified. At that stage the antlers are loaded with nutrients and can be removed without harming the animal.”

      We are saying the exact same thing here. I am also agreeing  with you in that this product has been used for thousands of years to treat tons of ailments, but I am interested in discussing sports performance.

      You missed the point, from an earlier comment that you apparently did not read? “I am not saying there are no benefits or that it does not work. All I am saying is that “the small amount of IGF-1 in deer antler velvet does not alter hormonal responses to any extent beyond exercise alone. Performance improvements cannot be related to the IGF-1 in the product. But, who knows what else in the product may be increasing performance. There could be something (or several things) that help performance, but what are they?”

      Also, I am not a physician (also stated in an earlier comment), who, by the way, take about 2 weeks worth of nutrition in med school and don’t cover sports nutrition. It is sad that your doctor told you, as an athlete, that salt is bad for you. I don’t know a single sports nutritionist who would agree with this and I certainly do not agree, but this is off the topic. Please read the article and the comments again, or for the first time, and then post a rational, scientifically backed response. I have said it before: “My problem is that people make claims all the time about products that don’t work or that they don’t use. We really need more than anecdotal claims, we need scientific facts to support the claims. More importantly, why should we believe you, or anyone making claims without scientific facts?”. I NEED EVIDENCE! Which is what good physicians use Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) or Practice (EBP). I would point the finger at ALL physicians as being “drug pushers.” Clearly you don’t understand the current medical field. Try talking to doctors in academics, not clinics.

      Additionally, the IGF-1 in meat and milk is there because we inject it and consumption may increase your risks of cancers (http://www.preventcancer.com/consumers/general/milk.htm). More research needs to be done, but it is suggested that humans eat meat and drink milk from animals not injected with growth hormones. Apparently, Canada and some European Nations have banned growth hormone injections in cattle.

      You are correct about the synthetic and natural IGF-1. I should have been more clear. Naturally occurring IGF-1 is not banned. However, does the product contain natural or synthetic IGF-1? We have all seen supplement companies crumble because they were actually putting in synthetic hormones. Just recently this happened: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/business/supplement-drugs-may-contain-dangerous-ingredients.html?_r=1&ref=general&src=me&pagewanted=all

      Therein lies the problem, how do we know the IGF-1 is not synthetic? We need to test for it, and even if it is natural and not synthetic, will every manufacturer refrain from adding a little extra synthetic IGF-1 on top?

      BOTTOM LINE:  Synthetic IGF-1 is banned and the differences between synthetic and natural IGF-1 is not easy to detect in the body in small doses. Thus, each product will need to be individually tested. Although, no athletes taking deer antler velvet have failed a drug test, taking a product with a banned substance is still in violation, even if there is not enough in the product to show up in a drug test or to influence performance. ALL COMPETITIVE ATHLETES SHOULD AVOID THIS PRODUCT AND ALL PRODUCTS CONTAINING IGF-1.

      However, it’s up to you, roll the dice, but ask yourself if you are willing tarnish your career over a supplement. Proper nutrition and supplementation with known, scientifically backed ingredients when needed is all an athlete requires to be a top performer. Nothing beats a good diet, a good training program, and a good work ethic. My advice, don’t take the chance if you are going to be tested. Otherwise, spray away!

      P.S. I am still waiting to receive scientifically-backed evidence for any one of the claims above. What ingredients are causing what to happen physiologically?  

  • Hembrino30

    Just wanted to say that when a bottle of of deer antler says that there is for example 27.5 ng (nanograms) of igf-1 that means 27.5 million! nanograms of igf-1 you realize that right? lol

    • Jordan R. Moon, PhD

      You lost me here Hembriono30? The bottle I was referring to said it had between 3,000 and 5,000 ng (nanograms), not 27.5 ng. I said a person would need 27.5 million ng to get a similar effect to taking IGF1. It is simple math:
      1 ng = 0.000000001 grams
      recreational use of IGF1 ranges between 20,000 and 200,000 ng, or 0.00002 and 0.002 grams per day.

      Are you suggesting that 27.5 ng = 27.5 million ng, or 0.0275 grams of IGF1?
      Even if this is correct, which it is not, there would only be 0.000152 grams per spray, or 0.00046 grams per 3 sprays. Meaning you would still need to drink half a bottle every day.

      However, I have not seen a company promote having 27.5 ng in a bottle, let alone one dose? I think if you read the article again you will see what I am talking about here. 

      Nevertheless, this is not the point of the article. Please read the other comments and the conclusion. Bottom line is that ANYTHING with ANY amount of IGF1 is “illegal” to consume if you are a professional or collegiate athlete in most, if not all, sports. The term “illegal” in this context is referring to a banned substance, not an illegal “drug” such as synthetic IGF1… Unless proscribed by your doctor.

  • peter

    Dr Moon, 

    It is refreshing and very nice to see an actual MD blog about this topic instead of fake advertisers, promoters, etc. I am not here to promote velvet antler, but I can say from personal experience, there is something about it that definitely helps my cardio, dont know why. 

    My question for you is, what legal and safe supplements should i be taking if i want to maximize my athletic performance?

    • Dr. Moon

      You should look for products that are NSF certified and that test their products using a company like Informed Choice. A good company for athletes is MusclePharm: 
      http://www.musclepharm.com/

      • sWAG2013

        Rofl. Read this entire thread and was leaning towards your objective opinion and then you go and suggest a manufacturer, fail. Ya, because the NSF would NEVER accept money or other provisions to pass a supplement through or certify it. I bet you believe Monsanto is a great company and everything the FDA does is “for the people”. Clown.

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  • http://www.ussa.edu Dr. Jordan R. Moon

    Deer Antlers in the news again!

    Ray Lewis states “he never failed a drug test”! After reading this article you will understand why even if he drank bottles and bottles of the stuff before the drug test.
    But did he take the spray? Only he knows for sure, unless someone personally watched him take it.

    The sad thing is that he allegedly took this product which is banned because of the extreme low doses of IGF-1. He also is not flat out saying he didn’t take the spray, but that he never failed a drug test. If you go by those standards you are only cheating if you get caught, and we know how that can turn out, just ask Lance Armstrong.

    It all goes back to educating athletes, coaches, and trainers. There is no reason an athlete should unknowingly take something that contains a banned substance especially when the ingredients are listed on the products!

  • Matt Angove

    Great article on Lu Rong. You mentioned muscle pharm as a good brand for athletes. If you look at their ingredients you find a lot of marketing hype ingredients (without scientific backing) along with food colorings and synthetic sugars. Just because something passes NSF certification says nothing about the product quality, just that the product is free of banned substances and that the company was willing to drop the 5K to get the NSF label per product on the product. Just an observation.