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Deer antlers are the only mammalian bone structures to regenerate completely every year. (North American elk and red deer) and should be removed by a veterinarian or certified farmer.
The ethics, including use of local anesthetics, and procedures of harvesting antler velvet have been reported. Velvet Antler: Its Historical Medical Use, Performance Enhancing Effects and Pharmacology .
Chemical comparison of various sections of growing antler (eg, tip, upper, middle, base) finds different concentrations of collagen, ash, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, lipids, amino and fatty acids, uronic acid, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, and others.
Collagen and minerals had higher concentrations at the base, where as the antler tip was found to be rich in chondroitin, containing 6-fold greater amounts than in the middle and base sections.
In 1999, the use of velvet antler was scientifically supported by clinical research in compliance with FDA regulations for its beneficial effects in treating arthritis.
These growth factors augment cell division, suggesting a possible role in cell regeneration and repair processes in humans. After removal of the deer velvet, it is collected and then frozen or dried prior to its manufacture into various “medicinal” forms including powders, extracts, teas, capsules, and tablets. Elk Tech International Research Centre, Calgary, Canada; 1999. Each part of elk velvet contains varying compounds, but the deer antler velvet contains the largest concentrations of those found to be beneficial. Heating during processing may reduce or destroy the purported beneficial effects of velvet antler. In Chinese medicine, deer velvet has been used to treat impotence, female disorders, urinary problems, skin ailments, and knee weakness. It is also employed as a tonic in children with learning disabilities or insufficient growth.
Stimulation of body tissue/cell growth, such as reticuloendothelial cells and leukocytes improve metabolism and overall health. The New Zealand Velvet Antler Industry: Background and Research Findings .