Health Benefits of Deer and Elk Velvet Antler Supplements: A Systematic Review of Randomised Controlled Studies

N Z Med J. 2012 Dec 14;125(1367):80-6.


Aims: The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the evidence from RCTs of velvet antler supplements for any condition, using the QUOROM statement as a guiding framework.

Methods: Four electronic databases (PubMed, Medline, Web of Science and Academic search premier, via the bibliographical platform, Endnote) and two review articles were searched for all randomised clinical trials of velvet antler supplements. Retrieved trials were evaluated according to standardised criteria.

Results: Seven RCTs were identified as satisfying all inclusion criteria and examined the effectiveness of velvet antler for rheumatoid arthritis (2), osteoarthritis (1), sexual function (1), and sporting performance enhancement (3). Their methodological quality ranged from 3-5, as measured on the Jadad scale. Two RCTs reported some positive effects of velvet antler supplements, but neither were convincing while the remaining five RCTs found no effect of velvet antler supplements.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antlers*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Athletic Performance
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Deer*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / drug therapy