Is taking deer antler velvet IGF safe?

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I am currently taking IGF (Insulin-like Growth Factor) derived from deer antler velvet as a nutritional supplement. Will the usage of IGF in a healthy person cause hyperthyroid problems or any other health issues?

This is an interesting question – actually two interesting questions: can taking deer antler velvet hurt you, and can taking IGF hurt you?

First, the following disclaimer: Products that are sold as supplements (as opposed to medications) are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration so they are not tested for safety, efficacy or standardization.  In other words, when you buy a supplement, there is no guarantee that what is in the bottle has been tested to see if it even contains the ingredient in question, let alone whether the ingredient actually does what it claims to.  (That’s not a value judgment, just the facts.)

With the fine print out of the way, here’s what I can tell you:

Deer antler velvet is used for its purported ability to raise testosterone levels to treat decreased libido (low sex drive), infertility, and erectile dysfunction in men.  It is used in combination with other herbs to treat sexual dysfunction and hormonal dysfunction in men and women.  It is used to treat conditions resulting from deficient kidneys.  Some people use it because of its reputed benefit as an aphrodisiac and muscle strength enhancer.  It is also sometimes prescribed to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms in the treatment of morphine addiction.  

All of the studies I found in the medical literature that looked at the use of deer antler velvet were done on rats – NOT humans – so it is impossible to rule out any adverse effects for sure.  I couldn’t find much information about whether or not it causes thyroid problems.

Unfortunately, the potential problems with IGF would seem to negate any of these theoretical benefits.  It has been shown that improper use of hormones such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), androstenedione, and human growth hormone may increase the risk for development of prostate cancer or promote the growth of existing prostate cancer by raising IGF-1 levels.  Therefore, men who are taking supplements with IGF in it (or those that raise IGF levels) could theoretically be putting themselves at an increased risk for prostate cancer.  Again, it hasn’t been rigorously studied so it’s impossible to know for sure, but if you have any risk factors for prostate cancer, it’s probably best to avoid taking this supplement.  

Side effects of IGF supplementation most commonly occurred in elderly patients and involved kidney problems, which would again nullify some of the purported benefits of deer antler velvet supplementation.

So the best answer I can give you is… I have no idea.  No one really does.  But if you ever have questions about any medications that you are taking, feel free to come in and talk to our pharmacy staff.  And of course, if you have any specific health concerns, you can always make an appointment to see one of our health care providers. 

Jason Goodman PharmD, RPh
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

24 thoughts on “Is taking deer antler velvet IGF safe?

  1. hi, im 17 and i am currently taking power igf ” deer antler velvet” should i stop ? am i at risk of getting any type of cancer or is it dangerous?

    • Maybe. As the article stated, there aren’t a lot of studies out there on power IGF or deer antler velvet. Those that are out there are inconclusive. There’s really no way to know for sure at this point.

  2. Seriously, at age 17, you shouldn’t be thinking about IGF-1 supplementation. it’s for people who are older who want to feel younger, to put it painfully simply.. but this is really true, you wouldn’t possibly need deer velvet at age 17 unless you have been damaged by something, i.e. narcotics addiction

    • I’m 15 and I’m taking deer velvet I only started it for the benefits and am only doing it for like 1 month I’ve done a lot of research and deer antler velvet spray used correctly is safe if used for short periods of time and not extensively through the year use it in small moth sections like April then next in September for example

    • The first question to ask, is why? Why are you considering this supplement? A supplement is not intended to fix a crappy diet or poor exercise program. A supplement is intended to be just that, a supplement to your existing good diet/good exercise program. And if you’re eating a well-rounded diet, then there’s really no need for supplementation at all.

      Supplements are best used in situations where an individual is unable to get their nutrients from their diet. Perhaps an individual has an allergy or intolerance, for example lactose. They are unable to consume milk products which in turn limits their ability to get sufficient calcium and vitamin D from their diet. In that case, a supplement makes sense.

      But for most of us, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising is enough and no supplementation is required.

  3. Would like to know, if this supplement used for prolonged perios may leads to any serious health conditions.

  4. I’m 23 years old I took deer antler for a few months on and off a couple years ago and again this year because of arthritis pain. I now am having trouble urinating and lower back pain on my left side. I am pretty sure it is my kidney. I stopped taking it obviously I am just wondering if there is something I could do to help relieve the pain?

  5. Yes. I was told it was my sciatic nerve both times I’ve went. I’m thinking that maybe my kidney is what’s hitting the nerve and making it hurt. Both doctors visits I was prescribed anti-imflammatories and told to drink cranberry juice. I was hoping there was something else I could try?

  6. Yes it’s completely safe and almost everyone can be benefitted from the use of deer antler velvet for supporting general health, to restore an ailing body, or to improve physical function and performance.

    • The above is an opinion expressed by a reader, not by MyBuckMD or Student Health Services.

  7. I am 23 and have a muscle weakness ( minocore myopathy) would I benefit from taking it? I also have an overactive thyroid so would it cause that any problems?

  8. I’ve been using it for about 4 months now with my diet and I’ve lost 80 lbs and gained a little muscle from it I can tell you my performance at work and in the gage lifting is awesome I feel like an animal I can go wok out for and 1 1/2 hrs and come in the house and sit down and squirting about 15 sprays of deer velvet extract under my tounge and in 30 minutes I’m ready to lift again it makes me recover really quick I’ve it!!!

  9. Oh and I’m also 36 years old and was a type 2 diabetic and have lymes disease I’m telling ya the stuff works!!!!

    • You (were) a type 2 diabetic? Does that mean you no longer have problems with it? Btw what brand of dear antler velvet do you use?

    • I am considering getting this. I have late stage lymes disease that is in my brain and nervous system and it is ruining me. I cant get help anywhere. I have gained 50 lbs even though I eat healthy after working so hard to lose 248 lbs. Its ruined my brain. I am getting very concerned I am not going to get better and have tried everything. are you still taking it since it is a year later and what have you noticed? I am 47 yr old female. If you wouldnt mind emailing me back id appreciate it. powerhouseami at gmail

  10. For those of you in your teens and 20’s, if you take this type of supplementation your body will begin to stop producing this naturally; and that right there is NOT a good thing. If you really believe you are getting some benefit from using this supplement than you will need to take more and more as your body stops making it completely (at an early age), and will most very likely have complications later, if not sooner, due to having to increase your dose. Therefore when it is found, and it is known that IGF-1, the active ingredient of why Deer Antler Velvet is used, can cause cancer, especially prostate cancer and the enlargement of other vital organs in the body, not muscles.

    My physicians are being researching what the cause and effects are of an unusually high IGF-1 and Human Growth Factor are presenting in my bloodwork which all started from an appt. with an Osteoporosis MD to explain how I may be dealing with osteoporosis and osteo-arthritis.

    Really, your body produces this on it’s own in sufficient quantities while you are in adolescence through at least your 20’s, and it would definitely not account for anyone’s weight loss – that would be do to your hyping yourself up (mind control) and doing more exercise.

  11. I am 16 years old thinking about taking deer antler i wanna know if it is safe to take i recently tore a ligament in my thumb and i wanted to strengthen it more so i can continue to lift and reduce the chances of re inguring it.

  12. I took red mountain deer velvet and it really messed my stomach up. I now have cramps and bloating all the time plus it feels like my stomach shrank…I can’t eat like I used to. It was a big mistake to take that stuff. Do you know of any way I can get my stomach back to normal??? Can you recommend someone who knows a lot about deer velvet?? I have been suffering terribly since I took that junk…it’s been about 2 years now!!!! My stomach has never been the same since I took that poison!!

  13. hello!
    I am 48 years old man taking insulin to control sugar level in regular basis interested in taking fresh deer antler velvet as supplement. Please let me know the process, time, doses for taking it. What is the possible side effect from it.

  14. I’ve tried multiple deer antler velvet sprays. By far, the best deer antler velvet is Pure Velvet Extracts. These guys are the only ones who provide the real stuff. They’re also the only ones that have a money back guarantee on the product when you buy it.

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