ASTANA – Velvet antlers are deer antlers during their early growth with a tubular and cartilage structure, filled with blood and covered by thin, velvet skin and fur. People use deer velvet as medicine for a wide range of physical and mental conditions and to boost health and the immune system as a whole.
“Before the revolution, (marals) red deers were shot and deer velvet was prepared, taken away to other countries for selling. Back then, deer velvet needed to be boiled and canned. Its bouillon turned out to have quit powerful effects,” Director of the Maralyonok medical centre specialising in velvet antler treatment Askar Kabanbayev who has 30 years of deer farming experience shared in his exclusive interview with The Astana Times.
Deer farming for extracting velvet antlers, meat and fur emerged many years ago and is widely spreading in Altai. Deer are kept at a special fold before their antlers are cut down while alive or killed. Antlers are then processed in a traditional way of air drying with boiling to prevent microbial and parasitic contamination, freeze drying at low temperatures, vacuum drying or other methods.
The velvet antler is collected on ranches in Siberia, China, New Zealand and other countries and sold to markets in East Asia, where it is used for holistic medicine, with South Korea being the primary consumer, as noted by deerfarmer.co.nz. In traditional eastern healing approaches (China, Korea) velvet antler is broadly used for preserving strength and youth. Velvet antlers are among the top used potions there and are comparable only to ginseng.
According to WebMD, deer velvet can be used to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, migraines, muscle aches and pains, asthma, indigestion, weak bones, headache, liver and kidney disorders, cold hands and feet, soreness and weakness in the lower back and knees, chronic skin ulcers and overactive bladder. Promoting youthfulness, sharpening thinking skills, protecting the liver from toxins and increasing the number of red blood cells are other applications deer velvet can be used for.
In herbal combinations, deer velvet is used to improve athletic performance, eyesight and hearing, to reduce stress and to treat arthritis, anaemia, women’s reproductive disorders, to increase blood circulation to the brain and to delay or reduce signs of ageing such as tissue, bone and muscle degeneration and declining mental skills, WebMD states.
“Over here people usually come with cardiovascular, respiratory, motor conditions, to boost the immune system, potency. Everyone has some place that hurts. Some just want to prevent something serious to happen and eagerly await for the season opening,” Kabanbayev explains.
Alcohol and water extraction released from deer velvet antlers is used as a restorative medicine. Medication produced from an antler velvet of a red deer was registered in the Soviet Union in 1970 and is sold under Pantokrin brand name. This drug can be applied in a combined therapy for asthenia (overstrain), arterial hypotension and related conditions.
“In the research process, it was discovered that deer velvet and deer blood contains all types of amino acids, vital micro and macro elements. Some health conditions occur when a body has a deficiency so enriching it with these substances means nervous and other systems of the body become stronger and if a malfunction is there, the body restores itself,” Kabanbayev says. “Rejuvenation occurs as well, only not like making you look ten years younger but when an ageing process slows down.”
The price to receive such treatment at the Maralyonok centre depends on living conditions and is 14,000-25,000 tenge (US$41-73). Treatment and meals are the same regardless of the room type. However, deer velvet bouillon quality and general service quality may differ in other medical centres.
“We have the largest livestock of red deer and therefore the richest bouillon. While other centres have one phyto sauna, we have ten. All food products are ecologically clean. Get down an airplane, get in a car, get to Maralyonok in two hours and you are already taking a deer velvet bath,” Kabanbayev adds.
Maralyonok is a highland facility (about 1,300 metres above sea level) located on an ecologically clean area at the edge of a pine forest, 120 kilometres away from Ust Kamenogorsk. Other health sanatoriums offer velvet antler treatment outside of East Kazakhstan but this region is where the medicine actually comes from.