To answer questions about the efficacy and safety of deer velvet, a great deal of relevant research has been carried out in the last 30 or 40 years, mainly in Asia, and particularly in China, Hong Kong and Korea, and in the USSR. Research on velvet antler also began in Japan in the 1930s. In recent years research has also been carried out in some Western countries such as Australia, USA, Canada and New Zealand.
In general, the research tends to support that deer velvet’s effects on the human body are restorative, strengthening and protective. The findings of research on velvet's purported supportive effects on growth and its support for haematinic and anti-ageing are of particular interest.
Research in New Zealand
In New Zealand, most research relating to velvet antler composition and efficacy has been carried out by AgResearch and in particular by a team led by Dr S.R. Haines.
AgResearch is a state-owned company dedicated to life sciences and agricultural research, and it was established in 1992 by combining research capabilities from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Department of Science and Industrial Research. The company has five major campuses throughout New Zealand. Invermay, near Dunedin, is known principally as a Centre for Sheep and Deer research and this is where the internationally recognised Deer Science group is located.
Velvet Antler Research New Zealand (VARNZ)
VARNZ is a joint venture between the Game Industry Board and AgResearch Ltd. It was established in 1994 with the twin objectives of:
- Undertaking research on deer velvet and co-products and
- Controlling and managing the outputs of such work for the benefit of the New Zealand deer industry
AgResearch and its fore-runners from MAF have been carrying out research on antlers since 1976, and the GIB has contracted research to AgResearch since 1990-91. VARNZ has conducted research on deer velvet since 1994.
Research by both New Zealand and other countries has been undertaken in the following areas:
Supporting immune function
Support for normal cholesterol balance
Aiding recovery after tissue injury
Support for blood pressure and cardiovascular health
Support for Growth
Healthy joint function
Support for mental function
Blood health Ageing