There has been a lot of hype and controversy regarding Ray Lewis and deer antler velvet spray supplement. The buzz happened right around the time of his Super Bowl appearance, and supplement sales skyrocketed overnight due to the intense media coverage. The World Anti-Doping Authority just gave the green light to this supplement, meaning is not on their list of banned substances. This news may put deer antler spray in the spotlight once again.
This supplement supposedly contains Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone associated with muscle repair and growth. IGF-1 has been used medically for treatment of growth failure in children, and bodybuilders have experimented with it as a way to build more muscle (they use a form called Long R3 IGF-1, which has a longer half-life). But any therapy/use of these hormones happens through injections, not oral medication.
Want to hear something really ironic? The New Zealand Medical Journal published a study just weeks before antler-mania took the news media by storm. Researchers looked at several studies and assessed the benefits of deer/elk antler supplements. Their conclusion: “Claims made for velvet antler supplements do not appear to be based upon rigorous research from human trials, although for osteoarthritis the findings may have some promise.”1
There’s no reason to believe this supplement will give professional athletes any advantage, and I don’t plan to spend money on it any time soon.
1. N Z Med J. 2012 Dec 14;125(1367):80-6. Health benefits of deer and elk velvet antler supplements: a systematic review of randomised controlled studies.