Is Deer Antler Velvet a Steroid?
When people ask this question, they are wondering whether deer antler velvet qualifies specifically as an anabolic androgenic steroid. So first, let’s discuss what an anabolic androgenic steroid is.
Anabolic Androgenic Steroids
Anabolic androgenic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone, the primary male hormone.
Steroids work by entering the bloodstream and binding to androgen receptors located within muscle tissue. There, the hormone interacts with the cell’s DNA to stimulate cell growth.
Anabolic steroids are used for some medical conditions. For instance, testosterone may be prescribed for hormone-related disorders, such as when sex glands produce little or no sex hormones, a condition known as hypogonadism.
However, steroids are also commonly used or abused in sports. This is because testosterone is effective for building muscle, increasing strength and endurance, and promoting healing and recovery. They also help burn fat and enhance metabolism.
In the USA, anabolic androgenic steroids are Schedule 3 controlled substances available only by prescription. The use of steroids is legal only when prescribed by a medical provider. Otherwise, it is illegal to use steroids.
There are more than 30 types of commercial anabolic androgenic steroids on the open market and black market. They are available as topical creams, patches and injections.
Deer Antler Velvet is Dietary Supplement
Deer antler velvet is not a steroid, but a dietary supplement.
Unlike anabolic androgenic steroids, deer antler velvet is not synthetic testosterone. It is a completely natural substance and a whole food.
The reason deer antler velvet gets mistakenly grouped into the steroid category is because it contains a wide and diverse range of growth factors. Additionally, studies have shown that deer antler velvet can boost testosterone levels. Therefore, deer antler velvet is sometimes considered a natural "steroid alternative" because its benefits include anabolic and performance enhancing effects. But it clearly does not meet the definition of an anabolic steroid.
Furthermore, deer antler velvet should not be categorized as a performance-enhancing drug (PEDs) either because it is not a pharmaceutical product.
While long-term steroid misuse is known to have harmful side effects, deer antler velvet can been used safely and effectively as it has been for thousands of years.
Growth Factors in Deer Antler Velvet
Below is a list of the growth factors found in deer antler velvet:
- Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)
- Insulin-like growth factor-2 (IGF-2)
- Transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-A)
- Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-B)
- Epidermal growth factor (EGF)
- Erythropoietin (EPO)
- Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs)
- Fibroblast growth factor (FGF)
- Growth differentiation factor-9 (GDF9)
- Nerve growth factor (NGF) and other neurotrophins
- Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)
- Vascular endothelial growth factor
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