… A guest column by Tyler Gisleson
Deer and elk antlers are the fastest growing bone/organ in the entire mammalian kingdom: these amazing horns grow and fall off in an annual cycle (every year!) The most dominant and sexually active male stags produce the largest crown of branchy horns atop their majestic heads. The ancients saw this natural magic as a powerful symbol of regenerative strength. This is why the people of China and Korea have used antler as food and medicine since recorded history to promote strength & virility.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TMC) deer antler is a profound and legendary tonic herb, held in the same regard as Ginseng and Reishi mushroom. It is said to be the "Premier Fire" or the "No. 1 yang jing substance" in the entire TCM pharmacopeia (yang being the fiery, male, strengthening aspects of the herb; jing being the physical life essence in our bodies). Traditional uses for deer antler include treating low back pain, weak knees, infertility, senility, premature aging, exhaustion, impotence, and arthritis amongst many more. In a healthy body, it can promote or enhance physical athleticism, longevity, strength, beauty and willpower. [editor’s note: wow!]
This deep and complex food/medicine increases hormone levels, nourishes the skeletal structure, increases red and white blood cell production, strengthens the nervous system and immunity, and is a wonderful whole food source of many nutrients including glucosamine/chondroitin, calcium, collagen, and natural growth factors such as IgF-1. It is possibly our most important whole food, natural supplement for hormonal health, as it stimulates and nourishes the entire endocrine system, and in particular androgenic compounds such as DHEA, and other growth factors. Hormonal wellness could be the most desirable aspect of antler, as it can restore someone weakened by age or excessive living, and is often quite invigorating in a strong healthy body.
Our hormonal systems are the source of our "lust for life," our drive to conquer goals and expand creative expression or artfulness. Our lives are the canvases on which we offer the unique gift of who we are. If we are depleted, or our hormones imbalanced due to xeno-estrogens from plastics and pesticides, a post-industrial "wimpy" diet, and a sedentary lifestyle, our staying power is cut short and our brushes run dry.
We can begin to reverse this with a robust healthy diet, exercise, balanced living, and rich superfood products such as deer antler (maybe mixed with some of the practices of our older and wiser medical systems [i.e Taoism, Ayurveda]), and then we can offer the following generations a stronger gene pool to swim in as well as adding some extra "Umph!" and zest to our current life situations. [editor’s note: “strengthening the gene pool” is still controversial in mainstream science, but new breakthroughs in epigenetics at least show us that at the very least gene expression can be modified much more than previously believed.]
I have used deer antler for some nine years and truly believe it has offered a profound vigor and become an integral part of my master nutritional strategy for maximizing my human potential.
It is noteworthy to point out the different forms of deer antler. Powdered antler is just that, the powdered down horns of deer. It may be considered lower quality by antler connoisseurs, but it should be enough to feel a difference. Deer antler collagen is from antlers that are boiled down to extract the collagen. This form is especially beneficial for joint health. Deer antler tips are the most desirable part of the antler, with the most growth factors and hormone activity, because the antlers grow from the tip.
I would also like mention four antler products I especially like. 1) "Antler 8" by the Seven Forests company, which is a formula composed of powdered antler, antler-collagen extract and supportive plant-based herbal tonics for strengthening blood and chi (energizing). It seems to promote injury recovery, relieve low back pain, heal from surgery, build muscle, improve joint and bone health, as well as provide general superfood nourishment. 2)"Woman's Treasure," also by Seven Forests, features deer antler as part of an amazing herbal tonic for female hormonal health both before and during menopause. 3) A high-quality pure antler supplement from Planetary Herbals, called "Antler Velvet." [editor’s note: the velvet is the scrapings from the coat of the antler, and is considered to be higher in growth factors than the antler core]. 4) The liquid extract of deer antler tips from Ron Teeguarden’s Dragon Herbs. I haven’t tried this one yet, but I promise by the time you read this, I will have. Ron Teeguarden products are always wonderful and highly concentrated. Come in and ask me what I think
I should also mention that the deer and elk are not killed in the process of harvesting their horns – it is a sustainable practice and is in the best interest of the farmers to have the healthiest and happiest deer possible in order to reap the most benefit from their yearly harvest. Tyler is in the supplements department on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and whenever else you can catch him.