What is IGF-1?
Velvet was recently thrust into the spotlight after Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis allegedly used deer antler velvet spray to help him recover quickly from a torn tricep ligament. Deer antler velvet is rich with IGF-1, which is deemed as a performance-enhancing drug and is banned from Major League Baseball and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
What is IGF-1?
After the controversy, there was much curiosity over what IGF-1 is and what it does to the body.
IGF-1 is a primary mediator of the effects of growth hormone (GH). Growth hormone is made in the anterior pituitary gland, is released into the blood stream, and then stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1. IGF-1 automatically begins being produced at birth. This is one of the major factors in height and muscle growth throughout childhood and puberty.
Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, explained that IGF-1 is an insulin-like growth factor, a hormone that naturally occurs in the body and circulates in the blood. A person's endocrine system contains a pituitary gland that produces a chemical called growth hormone that helps children grow into adults by making their bones stronger and helping their bodies mature. The brain's growth hormone then stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1, which then binds to receptors in muscle cells, signaling them to multiply and grow.
In normal ranges, IGF-1 in the body aids growth and boosts muscle strength, he said. The hormone also increases metabolism of carbohydrates, bringing more sugars to the cells that also help muscle growth. (source)
While IGF-1 could help athletes in theory, said Dr. Alan Rogol, a vice president of the Endocrine Society, there are no scientific studies with humans to show the expected effects actually occur. In animals, he said, if IGF-1 is injected into the body, muscles grow. If an animal is produced with genes that cause one muscle to overproduce IGF-1, that muscle grows, and if a tendon is injured, IGF-1 speeds healing. (source)
Effects of IGF-1 to the Human Body
Cartilage cell development, improve absorption of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
Fosters cellular division and growth.
Involved in cell repair, particularly in the brain, heart and muscle
Inhibits cellular suicide (apoptosis), or cellular death.
Its variants spur the activity of other proteins involved in muscle protein synthesis and encourage the activity of muscle stem cells, also known as satellite cells.
It also plays a role in muscle regeneration, due to cell repair.
It helps to reduce body fat because it halts insulin from moving glucose through the body, resulting in the body using fat as a source of energy instead of glucose.
American Velvet and IGF-1
While there are still skeptics in modern medicine about the effectiveness of American Velvet and IGF-1, it has actually been used for over two thousand years in China as medical treatment to a variety of illnesses.
IGF-1 is a great hormone that the body produces naturally. It helps our bodies grow to their natural state as well as aids in the building and repairing of muscles. But one must be careful when using synthetic IGF-1 for bodybuilding purposes as there are harmful side effects.
American Velvet is a natural extract and source of IGF-1. It is not made in laboratories or synthetically-produced, making them safe.