DEER ANTLER (Cervus spp.)

Latin: Cervus spp.
Chinese: Lu rong

WHAT IT DOES: Deer antler is sweet and salty in taste and very warming in action.  It tonifies and stimulates deficient Yang metabolic energy, increases sex drive and strengthens the heart, bones, and blood.  It increases the ability to work.

RATING: Yellow, due to highly stimulating nature

SAFETY ISSUES: Use cautiously with cases of severe emaciation and dryness

• Velvet or tip of antler: 500 mg one to three times per day.  Start with low dosage and increase slowly.

TCM doctors use the velvet and tip of young deer antler to treat fatigue, coldness, cold hands and feet, tinnitus, male impotence, low sex drive in both men and women, hypothyroidism, and general metabolic weakness.  It strengthens the tendons and bones, making it an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.  The Chinese believe that the tip of the antler contains the most nutrients so it commands the highest price.  It nourishes the bone marrow, stimulates red blood cell production and increases cardiac energy output.  It also speeds the bone healing.  We use it frequently in our clinic to strengthen cancer patients who have been weakened by chemotherapy or radiation. If the results I get in the clinic when trying to build blood volume using blood nourishing herbs such as dang gui (Angleica sinensis) are not strong enough, adding deer antler often helps.

Deer antlers are amazing structures.  They demonstrate the incredible metabolic energy of these animals.  Everyone knows that strong fingernail growth is a sign of good health, but consider the rapid annual growth of these bony structures, covered with living velvet and enriched by large blood vessels and nerves.  The antlers of species such as the red deer develop each year in about 150 days, during early spring and summer.  This is a tremendous metabolic achievement.

Research highlights

• Androgen hormones are substances that stimulate male sex organ function.  These hormones and various growth factors are factors in deer antler formation (Li et al., 1999; Francis and Suttie, 1998).

• As deer antlers grow, supportive nerves must grow in tandem, at a rapid rate of up to 1 cm per day.  This growth rate is related to the presence of neural and other growth factors (Garcia et al., 1997; Suttie et al., 1993, Suttie et al., 1995).  This indicates that deer antlers may be beneficial in nerve regeneration.

• Chinese studies report that deer antler speeds healing of fractured bones, strengthens heart output in patients with severe fatigue (at moderate, not high dosage), and stimulates production of reticulocytes (young new red blood cells) and hemoglobin (reported inYeung, 1983).