I couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl. And I don’t care much about over-paid athletes and performance enhancing drugs either. But this week, the two crossed paths with my passion, herbal healing, when one of this year’s Super Bowl athletes was reported to have used Deer Antler Spray to speed his recovery from a torn triceps that sidelined him for 10 games.
The problem with Deer Antler Spray is that it doesn’t make an athlete run faster or jump higher. I remember when Converse tennis could do that. But, according to the National Football League, the spray works in the same way as Human Growth Hormone to aid in the recovery time of an athlete. And like HGH, Deer Antler Spray appears on the NFL’s banned substance list.
I don’t know much about sports injuries, but as an herbalist, I do know a little something about Deer Antler. And it’s not an herb for everyone. When I was studying to be an herbalist, one of the first things I learned was that everything has an energy, or nature, including people. Some people are hot and some are cold. Same with every food, drink and herb we take in. Some are stimulating and produce warmth in the body, and some cool and calm.
When deer antler velvet is administered as intended, it’s a valuable tonic for people with Kidney Yang deficiency. These kind of people have a fundamental weakness that impairs their body’s warmth and ability to heal. Ray Lewis may or may not be one of these types. But it’s this yang-enhancing property that gives deer antler velvet a reputation for enhancing tissue repair. It might very well be useful for a certain athlete to get back on the field, eventually. Eventually being the operative word.
The basic warmth that antler velvet generates makes it a popular herbal supplement choice for impaired libido, infertility and injury recovery. From what I hear, Mr. Lewis is no slouch in the libido/fertility arena, making him a poor candidate for herbs like deer antler velvet.
And here’s where the big misunderstanding comes in…on both sides of this issue.
Over the long-term, deer antler velvet can strengthen the Kidney Yang and Jing, and help heal weakened or injured tissues. Over an extended period of time…..in measured amounts……in specific types of people, like those with a fundamental internal coldness. Yang tonics are meant to be taken over a long period of time, not in short bursts and large amounts. Using them this way is mistaking them for stimulants.