Some athletes using deer antler spray to enhance performance

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PHOENIX – Athletes, especially professional athletes, are always on the lookout for something that will give them the edge and help them be at the absolute top of their game.

One of those things is deer antler spray. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a spray made from newly formed deer antlers. It contains an insulin-like growth factor called IGF-1, which is known to aid muscle building fat cutting. Because it affects levels HGH, IGF-1 is considered a performance enhancer and thus prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency and by MLB.

Some athletes have been using antler spray, which itself has been around for thousands of years, as an alternative to steroids. Manufactures claim their sprays help increase both strength and endurance.

The potency of the spray depends on which part of the antler is used.

“The softer section, called the velvet, is the most metabolically active,” explained Dr. Suneil Jain, a naturopathic doctor with Rejuvena Health & Aesthetics in Scottsdale.

Earlier this month Major League Baseball issued a warned to its players, saying antler spray could contain "potentially contaminated nutritional supplements.” They say it could cause a false positive for a specific banned steroid.

IGF-1 does not show up in urine tests the way steroids do. It can, however, be detected in blood.

Antler spray has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to help with vitality, to help stimulate blood flow and to increase circulation.

“It works as an anti-inflammatory,” Jain said. “It’s used traditionally for many different reasons.”

Jain said he’s used it in his own practice with cancer patients and those who are perhaps "wasting away."

The downside, as with any medication or supplement, is that it can interfere with the body’s own production of certain substances, including HGH and essential hormones.

Antler spray is widely available online. While it comes in many forms, the spray is the most popular.