For thousands of years, the deer's velvet antlers, said to be the second most precious ingredient in traditional Oriental medicine after ginseng, have been used for a wide range of purposes, from restorative tonics to treating impotence.
Before understanding how these velvet antlers work, it may be worthwhile to learn some interesting facts about them.
The velvet antlers do not refer to the velvety sheath that they sport while growing, but to the whole cartilaginous antler in a pre-calcified stage. Antlers grow and re-grow very fast and in several weeks, as they reach their final size, the cartilage within them gradually converts into bone. Farmers only need to clip the antlers of the deer they raise on their farms, there is no need to slaughter the animals.
It is said that 52.5 percent of velvet antler is protein, 34 percent, mineral salt, and 2.5 percent, lipid.
The young horns contain around 25 amino acids good for human health like glycine, methionine, serine, arginine (cleanses the liver), histidine, lysine (keeps skin and hair healthy), glutamic acid and cholin (enhances the functioning of nervous system function).
They also have 26 dietary minerals like copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium, in particular pantocrinum and prostaglandin, that play a key role in strengthening the immune system.
Velvet antlers have many other uses. Their derivatives are recommended during periods of great stress, since it can help to soothe the nerves and prevent emotional overload.
Deer velvet antlers can be soaked with Chinese herbs and alcohol to increase libido.
Ingredients: 40g velvet antlers, 120g hoài sơn (rhizoma dioscoreae or Chinese yam), 1,000ml of alcohol (homemade rice wine)
Directions: Peel the velvet sheen and cut the antlers into pieces. Roast hoài sơn in a pan. Mix the antlers and hoài sơn well before placing them in tightly sealed cloth bags. Soak the bags in the alcohol and consume after seven days.
Usage: 20ml each, taken twice a day. Once the alcohol has been consumed, the residue can be taken out and roasted, ground into powder and rolled into pills that can be swallowed with water.
Indications: This concoction can be used to treat impotence, spermatorrhea, premature ejaculation, back pain and knee pain. It also strengthens kidneys and increases sexual performance.
Ingredients: 60g velvet antlers, 120g kỷ tử (Chinese wolfberry), 2,000ml of alcohol (homemade rice wine).
Directions: Peel the velvet sheen and cut antlers into pieces. Soak antlers and kỷ tử in alcohol and consume after 10 days.
Usage: 20 ml, twice a day. After the alcohol is consumed, the residue can be roasted, ground into powder and rolled into pills.
Indications: Treats impotence, improves sperm count, increases sexual performance, and strengthens kidneys.
They also provide nutritional support for bone and joint structure and function, and are very good for people suffering from broken bones or arthritis, and even for children who haven't begun walking at the right age.
The antlers are used to nourish the blood, treat impotence, increase sexual performance, improve heart function, and treat asthenia, knee weakness, menstrual disorders, and urinary problems.
Commonly available in many health food stores, antler extract is often sold in powdered form or in capsules
Let us now look at several ways in which fresh velvet antlers, available at farms in many parts of the country, are processed.
First, the velvet sheen is peeled. Then the antlers are washed with alcohol mixed with ground ginger. It is very important that the velvet cover is removed completely. Recently, a man in Vietnam's northern region died of enteritis after drinking deer antler alcohol because the velvet was not peeled away completely.
After washing the antlers, they are cut into pieces and soaked in 30-45 percent alcohol for three months. Then they are taken out soaked for a second for a month and a third time for three weeks before the liquor is consumed.
Antler alcohol can be consumed two or three times a day at 30-50ml before meals.
If you don't like drinking antler alcohol, after washing them, you can put the pieces into tightly sealed nylon bags and store them in the freezer. They can be used in cooking porridge or steamed with honey.
It is not advisable to use antler products for more than 2-3 weeks
Not for teens
Teenagers should not use antler products as they could trigger early onset of sexual maturity.
Those with hypertension, heart valve stenosis, nephritis, and diarrhea should also avoid the use of these products.
Pregnant and lactating women as well as children should consult with qualified doctors before using antler medicines.
The use of these products should be stopped if the user experiences itching, rashes and pimples.
It has to be reiterated that antler products should be consumed only when it is really necessary and advised by doctors. Professional instruction on the use of this oriental supplement should be strictly heeded.