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The accepted definition for nutraceutical products is a « natural products with the capacity to prevent or heal disease ». The term nutraceutic signifies nutritive and pharmaceutic. For the moment, products capable of healing disease and which are supported by clinical tests are classed amongst pharmaceutical products (medicines). Natural products, in spite of their capacity to heal disease, are classed as nutraceutics if they are not supported by scientific evidence of their effectiveness. Velvet antler, amongst others, is classed as a nutraceutic.
Most natural medicines sold in developing countries are in the form of nutritional supplements. In Asiatic countries, where medicine uses natural products, natural medicinal products are considered to be pharmaceutics (medicines). Most natural medicinal products are sold in occidental countries as a plant or as an extract from the plant such as: Echinacea, ginkgo, ginseng etc. On the other hand, in Chinese medicine, these plants are used widely and as a mixture of many plants or ingredients. Each plant plays a very precise role in this treatment. Natural medicine is known since time immemorial. The scientific study of the basis of beneficial effects and action related to these natural products began only recently. The identification of the active compounds in velvet antler began in the 1950s, but it has been used for more than 2000 years. According to the rigor of modern medicine, the use of natural products in occidental countries progresses as scientific studies and subsequent discoveries progress.
Velvet antler is an excellent example of natural product use. It is one of the natural medicinal products which are gaining strong acceptance and regular use in the world. Differently from the great variety of uses made of velvet antler in Asia, it is used mostly in the form of a capsule containing pure powdered velvet antler with or without ginseng. The development of alternative mixtures using velvet antler as a base ingredient is an interesting way to develop the market and profit from traditional Asian knowledge.