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Published:August 11th, 2011 17:01 EST

Drugs in the Forest - The Bambi Story

By Donna Cavanagh

Who doesn`t appreciate the beauty of deer frolicking in the forest?  When we see these animals some of us might think, "What gentle creatures they are."  Others note, "Wow, that deer will fill my freezer and give me two months worth of meals," but it`s the professional baseball players who might say, "Damn,  those antlers will make me next season`s MVP."

Confused? Don`t be. It seems that deer antler spray  is now being used as a performance enhancing "drug".  Yes, that the velvet from immature deer antlers,  includes an insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which controls the level of human growth hormone or HGH, which as we all know is a big no-no in baseball.

It`s important to note that major league baseball is aware of the deer antler craze, but it is not banning all velvet deer antler products but just one particular product, which might contain methyltestosterone, a banned steroid substance.  For those unfamiliar with deer antlers, allow me to explain.  Velvet deer antler might be a little misleading in that it does not refer to the velvety "skin" on growing antlers. To be honest, I never knew antlers had a velvety skin. I have never been that close to antlers to test that out. Sure, I see deer on the road, but never once did I stop and say, "Can I feel your antlers?"  I just thought it wasn`t really proper.

Anyway,  The velvet refers to the  cartilage of the antler in a pre-calcified stage. Typically the antler is cut off near the base after it is about two-thirds of its potential size, and before any significant calcification occurs. Let me also add here that no deer are harmed in the velvet removal. The deer are anesthetized and then let back out into the forest to be with Thumper and Flower and their other woodsy friends.   

The velvet antler is then dried and is used as a powder or int tea, or in the banned product`s case, a spray. In defense of the velvet antler, it is not all about building muscle and trimming fat. Many in the natural health field believe that velvet antler is more effective as an anti-inflammatory than most prescription drugs without many of the dangerous side effects. Also, velvet antler is thought to be a good anti-cancer and immune stimulant, and it is known to enhance cardiovascular health and maybe s(e)xual "vitality". Let me stop right here and say, I am not a doctor or homeopath -- nor do I pretend to be, and I am only reporting what I read on the internet so take it with at least one grain of salt.

Well, I understand and believe that the best medicines are found in nature, I would like to know who was the first person who thought about cutting off a deer`s antler and turning it into powder or spray used as a remedy for anything from arthritis to being vertically or muscle-challenged to not being able to "perform" in other arenas apart from baseball field.  Was there a group of hunters sitting around a campfire discussing deer antlers when one said,

"Do you think antlers are tasty?`

"I don`t know if they taste good," answered another,  "But I bet my bottom dollar that if we cut the antler and pulverize it into powder we can stop disease and maybe get a good erection to boot." 

"Yes, I can see how that would be," said the third hunter. "Let`s go get us some antlers."

I admit that I don`t understand how this antler discovery could have  occurred. Someone somewhere had to look at deer and think, "Hm, I wonder what we can use the antlers for?"

My first and only answer to that query would have been "coat rack".  I never would have gone beyond the obvious. I can guarantee you that the idea of searching the antlers for medicinal or muscle enhancing properties would never have entered my mind.  But then again, I know I would not have been the caveperson to think fire was good either.  It never would have occurred to me to  throw a dead animal on the flames and call it a barbecue. Hell, I would not even have had the foresight to combine chocolate and peanut butter to make a great piece of  candy. If I can`t imagine a peanut butter cup, my chances of making an earth-shattering medicinal discovery from deer antlers are slim at best.

Well, luckily there are other people out there whose imaginations can project where banned substances might be found or what plant might be used to heal.  As for the baseball players who are embracing velvet antler products, I say this: Baseball knows about Bambi and his friends and they are going to catch you in the act if you use the banned product. Is a little antler worth an entire career?  Ask Bambi, he would probably know best.