Cervus elaphus, European Red Deer velvet antler and production in New Zealand

Cervus elaphus, European Red Deer Velvet pilose deer antler or “velvet”, also known as lu-rong, or pantrocrin (extract), is basically the rapid growth phase of deer antler, before it becomes horn-like, hard and calcified. At this stage it is covered with a velvet-like covering, hence the name. Velvet or pilose deer antler is a renewable resource from the European Red Deer (Cervus elaphus), one of the most widely used animal materia medica ingredients, not only in China, but also in other Asian countries, particularly, Korea. Deer velvet antler is used in prescriptions to promote virility, replenish vital essence and blood, strengthen the bone and tendons, and to regulate uterus-related meridians. It is prescribed for impotence, infertility, lassitude, dizziness, tinnitus, back pains with a cold sensation, plus “cold deficiency”, etc. Deer velvet has been used in China for at least 2000 years. In classical Chinese herbals, deer velvet was first listed in the herbal of Shen Nong, a mythical figure called the “divine plowman emperor” thought to have lived over 4000 years. His herbal, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing survives as a list with short descriptions of nearly 400 herbs from the first century CE. A silk scroll found in a Han Dynasty tomb in Hunan Province in China, dated to 168 BCE included several prescriptions and treatments involving deer velvet, making it the earliest known reference to the substance. A Russian ethanolic extract is variously known as pantrocrin, pantocrine, or pantokrin.

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