Deer antlers

in Chinese medicine

In China, antlers have been used as a medical remedy for thousands of years. Today their use also helps to cope with modern diseases such as high cholesterol, migraine, osteoporosis, muscle pain, asthma, GI disorders, liver and kidney diseases, chronic skin ulcers and many others.

They are also used to maintain youthfulness, enhance immunity, counteract the effects of stress, speed recovery from illness and injury, improve blood production and circulation, protect the liver from toxins and improve cognitive function. In addition, the Chinese have traditionally used antlers as a tonic for children with developmental delays of various origins.

In the pinyin system, young deer antlers are called Lu Rong, and their pharmaceutical name is Cornu Cervi Parvum. The earliest mention of them as a medicine is in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, the oldest Chinese work on medicinal preparations of plant, animal and mineral origin. Researchers believe the text to be a collection of oral traditions recorded sometime between 200 and 250 AD.


To better understand the ancient Chinese views on the effects of antlers on humans, let us turn to the theory of Yin and Yang or the fundamental law of opposites that governs all phenomena. If something exists in the world, there must also be the opposite in order to create balance. Opposing forces are considered to be complementary, interrelated and interdependent, generating each other. Like light and darkness, heat and cold.

Yin is a more passive element associated with darkness, night, moon, cold, water, etc.

Yang is the more active principle, it is energy, light, sun, day, fire, heat, etc.

No system can represent completely Yin or Yang - it is always a balance. For example, if your car runs out of coolant, it will begin to overheat due to a lack of Yin, resulting in excess heat. In Chinese medicine, overheating due to lack of fluid is known as 'Yin deficiency heat.

Antlers in Chinese medicine are considered a tonic, warming, yang component, so they were considered contraindicated in the heat of Yin deficiency.


So, from the biomedical point of view, the functions of Jan-tonics can be described as follows:

- Regulates the adrenal cortex, which produces vital hormones such as cortisol (helps regulate metabolism and helps the body respond to stress) and aldosterone (helps control blood pressure)

- regulates energy metabolism

- promotes healthy sexual function and fertility

- promotes growth and regeneration

- strengthens the body's resistance to disease, degeneration and injury

Since most Yang tonics are warming and have a drying effect, they can depress Yin. Therefore, when taking them, you should be careful about fluid intake and avoid thirst.


Tones and restores the Yang of the kidneys

  • Yang kidney deficiency:

В Traditional Chinese Medicine antlers are a useful component for treating kidney Yang deficiency. Yang deficiency in the kidneys is manifested by symptoms such as: fatigue, tiredness, dizziness, tinnitus, impotence, premature ejaculation, spermatheria, nocturnal pollution, soreness or weakness in the lower back and knees, cold extremities, weakness of tendons and joints and frequent profuse urination.

  • Infertility:

Constant uterine bleeding and a "cold uterus," which can lead to female infertility. Cold causes congestion, which means that the body's reproductive processes "freeze" almost in the same way that excessive cold causes water to freeze and stop flowing naturally. Antlers warm the Yang Kidney and uterus, helping to regulate menstruation and contracting the uterus to then stop bleeding.

Nourish the Blood

  • Severe anemia due to blood insufficiency:

In Chinese medicine, antlers are often used to combat severe anemia due to blood deficiency. It is used to tone the blood to stimulate the production of red blood cells and reticulocytes (immature red blood cells). Antlers are thought to be good for thin and weak patients.

  • Weakness of tendons and bones:

Antlers promote bone and bone marrow health. In addition, the Kidney stores blood and controls tendons and tendons. Yang Kidney deficiency in children with insufficient tendon and bone strength can manifest itself as mental and physical developmental delays. Yang kidney deficiency in elderly patients may lead to Wei syndrome (atrophy), weakening of bones and joints, confusion or memory loss.

Heal chronic ulcers and furuncles Yin

In China, antlers have been used to treat chronic non-healing ulcers, non-perforated Yin-type ulcers or abscesses that are the result of blood deficiency. These ulcers are most often concave in shape and secrete a clear fluid. They are also slow to heal in nature, with dark, dull skin around the lesion.


In Chinese medicine, the various pharmacological effects of antlers have been analyzed from a biomedical perspective, including but not limited to:

Cardiovascular diseases:

In several animal studies, it has been shown that the cardiovascular effects of antlers are dose-dependent.

At low doses, no significant changes in the cardiovascular system have been observed. Moderate doses have been shown to have significant positive inotropic (changing the force or rate of muscle contraction) and chronotropic (affecting heart rate) effects, leading to increased cardiac output in cardiac samples. This effect was most significant when the antlers were used for people with weak hearts. In addition, when they were given orally to people with chronic circulatory problems and low blood pressure, they increased both blood pressure and pulse strength. Large doses caused negative chronotropic and inotropic effects leading to dilation of blood vessels (peripheral vasodilation) and lower blood pressure. Clinical applications for the cardiovascular system include treatment of arrhythmias and hypotension caused by excessive blood loss.

Endocrine system:

In one study, mice were orally administered a preparation of deer antler at doses ranging from 100 to 200 mg/kg. The researchers evaluated plasma testosterone levels before and after the drug administration. Testosterone levels increased significantly in old and young mice, but no changes were observed in healthy adult mice. When rats whose gonads had been removed received deer antler preparations, no significant sexual hormonal effects were observed.

Gastrointestinal tract:

Studies show that deer antlers stimulate the production of PGE2, or prostaglandin E2, which is a naturally occurring prostaglandin often used as a drug and a major mediator of inflammation. It has been shown to stimulate healing effects on stomach ulcers and intestinal lesions and is useful for patients with peptic ulcers.

Effect on local healing:

Pantocrine, one of the components of antlers, has been shown to accelerate healing and promote granulation of chronic, stale wounds and ulcers as well as healing of bone fractures. Pantocrine also affects local nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism.

General Reinforcement:

Pantocrine, one of the components of antlers, is a general tonic that has shown marked effectiveness in increasing performance, improving sleep, increasing appetite and reducing the rate of muscle fatigue. When taking antlers for a long period of time, patients have seen an increase in body weight and red blood cell counts. In animal studies, antlers increased oxygen uptake by the brain, liver and kidneys in white rats, their body weight increased within two weeks.

Hematological effect:

During oral administration of deer antler powder to rabbits, an increase in both erythrocytes and leukocytes was observed.

Immunological effect:

Pantocrine, administered to an animal sensitive to a particular substance, inhibits the reaction upon repeated contact with the material.

Effects on the kidneys:

Deer antler preparations have a diuretic effect.

For more information on these effects, see the additional resources listed at the end of this article.


A textbook on Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology presents several studies of antlers, including:

Mammary gland hyperplasia:

Deer antler injection showed an efficacy of 87.2% in the treatment of 86 women with mammary gland hyperplasia. The treatment protocol consisted of injecting 2 ml intramuscularly twice a day for 10-15 days before menstruation.


Patients with diarrhea characterized by kidney Yang deficiency received one intramuscular injection of reindeer antler daily or every other day, two doses in total. Of the 16 patients, 12 had complete recovery, 3 showed moderate improvement, and 1 had no response.


Intramuscular injections of deer antler every other day and oral administration of the drug daily were used to treat 42 patients with impotence with marked effectiveness. The treatment protocol consisted of injections of 0.5 ml of deer antler into the acupuncture points Qihai (CV6), Guangyuan (CV4), Zhongji (CV3), Quigu (CV2) and Zusanli (ST36) and 1.0 ml into the acupuncture points Minmen (GW4). The composition of the formula varied according to the condition of each patient.

Atrioventricular block:

In one study, 20 patients with atrioventricular blockade received 2.0 ml of intramuscular deer antler injections for 25 to 30 days with 85% efficacy.

For more information on these studies, see the secondary resources listed at the end of this article.

Key Links:
Chinese Herbal Medicine Materia Medica, 1993; 336-337
Essentials of Chinese Medicine Materia Medica, 2003; 230
Chinese Medical Herbology and Pharmacology, 2004; 878-880
Secondary References:
Yao Xue Xue Bao (Journal of Herbology), 1991; 26(9):714
Xian Dai Zhong Yao Li Xue (Contemporary Pharmacology of Chinese Herbs), 1997; 1232-1233
Yi Xue Xue Bao (Report of Medicine), 1991; 26(9):714
Chem Pharm Bull, 1988; 36:2587:2593
Yao Xue Xue Bao (Journal of Herbology), 1985; 20:321
Ibid., 1991; 26(9):714
Zhong Yao Da Ci Duan (Dictionary of Chinese Herbs), 1997:2232
Shang Hai Zhong Yi Yao Za Zhi (Shanghai Journal of Chinese Medicine and Herbology), 1980; 3:31
Ji Lin Zhong Yi Yao (Jilin Chinese Medicine and Herbology), 1985; 2:22
Zhe Jiang Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Zhejiang Journal of Chinese Medicine), 1983: 11:498
Zhe Jiang Yi Xue (Zhejiang Journal of Medicine), 1988; 1:22