This isn’t your typical buck spray. A recent article by Sports Illustrated brought a flurry of media attention to the existence of deer antler spray that contained insulin growth factor, otherwise known as IGF-1. The ingredient  is considered to be similar to controversial human growth hormone. IGF-1 is a banned substance under NFL regulations, but no one had ever thought to look for it in deer antlers.

This is where a two-man company named Sports With Alternatives to Steroids (S.W.A.T.S.) comes in. The Alabama-based company sells a variety of athletic supplements and health aids, including de-ionized water, hologram stickers, and spray harvested from the antlers of New Zealand deer. Wait, deer antler spray? While you might be thinking what a waste that might be, S.W.A.T.S. is advertising that the spray as a safe, legal alternative to performance enhancers for the competitive athlete.

In the Sports Illustrated article, S.W.A.T.S. reportedly gave free samples to several prominent football stars, including Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Lewis denies taking the supplements, even though it is still unknown how much IGF-1 is in the spray.

According to ABC News, there are few studies regarding the effect of deer antler spray on the human body, although one report did cite a small increase in endurance for subjects who took it over a three-week period. IGF-1 can be harmful if taken in large quantities and can affect the heart and liver. The substance itself is occurs naturally in animals and it is not yet clear if deer antlers carry a substantially high amount.

Image from John Seb Barber (JohnSeb) on the flickr Creative Commons

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