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WPEC-TV CBS12 News :: Sports - Controversial powers of deer antler velvet

Controversial powers of deer antler velvet

Story by Matt Lincoln / CBS12 Sports
A controversial nutraceutical is the newest popular supplement for professional athletes. It is so hard to detect, that many professional athletes are using it even though it is illegal in some of their sports.
Those who use deer antler velvet says it'll make you feel younger, and a lot healthier. That it will give you more energy, and help you recover.
It almost sounds too good to be true - a snake oil, or daffy's elixir for the 21st century. You can find deer antler velvet on the shelves at local stores like Nutrition World in Palm Beach Gardens. Prices can range anywhere from $40 to $130. For the people that use it, they say it’s well worth it.
Nutrition Consultant Vanesa Hotchkiss has been taking deer antler velvet for 25 years. It's helped reduce inflammation, clear her mind after a concussion and given her more energy. “The proof is in the pudding,” said Hotchkiss. “I take it first hand and I know customers who take it first hand, and I can say the results have always been really good.”
But it's not the general health aspects of deer antler velvet that has it in the news. It's the growth factors within the velvet that interest professional athletes.
Ray Lewis reportedly took deer antler velvet to help his triceps heal before the Super Bowl.
West Palm Beach native, and former NFL player Heath Evans is one of the most outspoken proponents of deer antler. He takes it for recovery from concussions.
Vijay Singh is one of a number of older golfers that take velvet for muscle support and recovery.
Dr. Gary Ackerman, the team doctor for the USTA works locally at Palm Beach Sportsmedicine.  He has heard a few of these anecdotal stories, but he believes the deer antler spray's all-healing powers are just hocus pocus.
“It's not detected in urine, that's why athletes like it,” says Ackerman. “It has a lot of people saying that it does a lot of great things, but there's nothing out there that shows it. Just because it works for one athlete, doesn't mean it will work for you.”
dr. ackerman says there's a placebo effect with any nutritional supplement like this.  A consumer takes it, plus they may exercise more, or rest more, or eat better, or maybe their health improves on its own. But the user credits the velvet for their improvement. Without rigorous scientific proof, says Ackerman, there's no way to tell it it’s really the velvet doing the work. “If (my patients) really want to try it, I tell them go ahead. There's no real downside to it, but it's not something I recommend.”
At Powerhouse Gym in West Palm Beach, I went looking for local athletes, and if any of them had tried, or would try, deer antler velvet for recovery.
Local trainer Andy Snyder said: “I don't know anyone who's taken deer antler spray, and says it works.”
Weightlifter Jared Duffy tried the velvet antler, and claimed it tasted like dirt.
Another local, Adrian Stone, said: “I only eat chicken breasts and protein shakes, if you take anything else, you're cheating yourself.”
Deer antler velvet divides medical professionals who live by it and those that deny it, and athletes that use it, and those that won't touch it.  As for whether it will help you - it all depends on whether you believe in the hocus pocus.
Earlier this month, the world anti-doping agency took deer antler velvet off their banned substance list. The PGA tour then ended Vijay Singh's probation, who has since brought up a defamation lawsuit against the tour. Deer antler velvet is still illegal to use for NFL players.Controversial powers of deer antler velvet

Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:51 PM EDT

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