To many of us in the west, Traditional Chinese Medicine is an unknown and mysterious practice. Despite this people who benefit from it are heard to say ‘I don’t understand how it works but it does!’
From 2,000 year old silk scrolls recovered from a tomb in the Hunan Province in China, to the well-respected Grand Materia Medica written in 1596 by Li Shi-Zhen, and the modern Chinese Pharmacopeia, deer velvet is credited with considerable health-giving properties.
Essentially, the goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to promote balance and ‘wellness’. Yinyang is all about balance, in Chinese culture Yin and yang are opposite in nature, but they co-exist in everything, they rely on each other. By definition, a tonic is a medicinal substance taken to give a feeling of vigour and well-being. These are concepts that are relatively new to many western cultures. Deer velvet is considered a potent tonic and its traditional uses are many and varied.
Deer velvet is one of the most potent medicinals in the Chinese pharmacopeia to strengthen yang and tonify the kidneys. Yang energy is very important in health, as it warms and protects the body and provides the basis for metabolic functions. Yang energy also carries our essential energy whose source is the kidneys (a concept different from the western anatomical kidney which includes adrenals and reproductive organs) If yang energy is weak, there is a tendency to feel cold and lethargic, the pores of the skin remain open, the tendons are stiff and the back becomes hunched. Often fertility is reduced. The properties of deer velvet are sweet, salty and warm which means it 'enters' the kidneys and this makes it ideal to use for strengthening yang and kidneys.
Deer Antler Velvet has been consumed for at least 2,000 years. The first documented use of Deer Velvet has been traced back to the Han tomb in the Hunan Province in China where a silk scroll was discovered listing over 50 conditions for which Deer Velvet is given. Consistent with the holistic approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Deer Velvet is taken as a general tonic to restore balance, strengthen the body and promote overall wellness. One of the few "pure" tonics among the thousands of natural remedies in the Chinese pharmacopoeia, Deer Velvet is in the same highly regarded category as ginseng.
Generally, conventional western medicine does not recognise herbal remedies or health tonics and is not concerned with the promotion of wellness, mainly because the biological mechanisms of these substances are poorly understood. However, research into these and other alternative therapies tends to support at least some of the claims that have been made for centuries.
Increasingly, people in the west are turning to so-called alternative therapies to avoid long term dependency on prescription drugs. Traditional Chinese Medicine, which encompasses many different practices, is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 5,000 years. Today, TCM is practiced side by side with Western medicine in many of China’s hospitals and clinics and conversely many of its concepts are being adopted by conventional western medicine.