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EVAFrequently Asked Questions
               Make the Healthy Choice!

  1. What can EVA do for you?
  2. What is EVA?
  3. It seems that EVA offers a variety of different benefits for human health – how can it achieve so many different positive effects?
  4. What is elk ranching and what is its history in Alberta?
  5. What is chronic wasting disease (CWD) and what does it have to do with ranched elk in Alberta?


What can EVA do for you?
For centuries, traditional Chinese medical practitioners have prescribed EVA to address a variety of health issues. Since the 1970s, Western science has researched the effectiveness of EVA and supported many of the claims made by traditional medicine. The research suggests that EVA can provide the following general effects:

  • Stimulation of the body’s immune system to assist protection against infection and disease.
  • Reduction of pain and inflammation caused by a variety of degenerative diseases.
  • Stimulation of muscle and tissue growth.
  • The prevention or repair of muscle damage following exercise.
  • An ability to increase muscular strength and endurance.
  • An ability to significantly reduce the damaging side effects of chemotherapy drugs, while at the same time increasing their effectiveness.

Traditional practice and modern research also suggest that EVA can provide specific health benefits in the following areas:

  • Anti-aging – inhibition of the activity of some enzymes associated with aging, while increasing the synthesis of liver and kidney protein by promoting activity of other specific enzymes.
  • Anti-cancer activity – some demonstrated results of anti-tumor effect against some forms of cancer cells.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects –New Zealand research has shown strong anti-inflammatory effects for EVA.
  • Bone and joint health –most research suggests that as EVA contains significant quantities of chondroitin sulphate, it is worthy of consideration as a treatment for joint and bone inflammation conditions such as arthritis
  • Growth stimulation – research has identified various natural hormones in EVA including IGF-1(insulin-like Growth Factor-1) and EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) that serve as a natural aid to muscle growth and development.
  • Performance enhancement – research and anecdotal evidence suggest that EVA has a positive effect on athletic performance, through prevention or rapid repair of muscle damage associated with exercise.
  • Stimulation of the immune system – Research in Korea, New Zealand and China has shown that EVA can stimulate the immune system by producing lymphocytes and increasing the number of red and white blood cells.
  • Tonic effects – research supports claims that EVA can have a revitalizing effect, especially for people who are immuno-compromised (those weakened by illness or other stress).1

What is EVA?
EVA is elk velvet antler. The antler is removed humanely from the bull elk during the second year of its life and every year thereafter.

The antler is processed into powder and packaged in capsules for sale on the Canadian nutraceutical market. The harvesting, processing and packaging of EVA are subject to strict health regulations monitored by the Alberta government, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada.

EVA naturally contains a number of active ingredients that are known to play a role in the healing and general health and well being of the body:

  • Collagen – a major structural protein present in bone, tendons, ligaments, other connective tissue and articular cartilage.
  • Amino AcidsEVA contains eight essential and 15 non-essential amino acids, the precursors for all protein production.

  • Growth hormones and growth factor
  • Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1) – a precursor for the production of growth hormone.
  • Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) – growth factors that aid development of cartilage cells.

  • Glycosaminoglycans (complex carbohydrates)
  • Chondroitin Sulphate – a carbohydrate that helps protect and rebuild degenerating cartilage and is regarded as a potent anti-inflammatory agent.
  • Erythropoietin – a hormone produced by specialized kidney cells to stimulate red blood cell production.
  • Glycosphingolipids – compounds involved with growth and metabolism of cells and with memory and learning.
  • Glucosamine sulphate – a component of chondroitin sulphate and a major component of cartilage and synovial fluid.
  • Hyaluronic acid – a substance that binds cartilage cells together and lubricates joints.
  • Prostaglandins – a hormone-like substances that produce a wide range of effects, including anti-inflammatory effects, within the body
  • Phospholipids – the major structural lipid of most cell membranes.

  • Other compounds
  • Monoamine-oxidase inhibitors – enzymes that inhibit the oxidation of neurotransmitters and so promote a feeling of well being.2

It seems that EVA offers a variety of different benefits for human health – how can it achieve so many different positive effects?
In the Chinese medical tradition, practitioners successfully administer different combinations of treatments to different individuals suffering from the same disease or condition. They take into account all the physical, emotional and psychological factors at work in the individual patient. This approach is based on the philosophy of seeking balance in life, expressed in the Chinese concepts of Yin and Yang.3

In North American, or Western, medicine, a doctor will successfully prescribe the same course of treatment to a number of patients with the same disease.4 Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, but the concept that one natural substance can offer a variety of health benefits is more in keeping with traditional Chinese practice and relatively new to Western thought.

The newness of this idea to Westerners should not invalidate it however. The strong anecdotal evidence from Chinese tradition, combined with the solid and growing body of empirical evidence from research done in Australia, New Zealand and North America, provides validation for the wide claims made on behalf of EVA. Analysis of the unique combination of substances found in this natural and regenerating mammalian organ serve to further support these claims.

In short, EVA is nature’s own special package of ingredients that form the right combination to address many different health problems encountered by humans.

What is elk ranching and what is its history in Alberta?
The history of elk and deer farming (the two animals are members of the same species, cervus elaphus) can be traced in Europe back to Roman times. Evidence of the domestication of this species has been found on every continent in the world.

In North America, aboriginal people herded and tamed elk, deer and caribou. Modern elk farming has been practised in New Zealand and Canada since the 1960s. New Zealand is the world leader in the industry, reporting over 3.5 million domestic deer and $300 million in exports in 2001.5

Elk farming in Alberta has been on the rise since the 1970s. It is a government-regulated industry under the control of the Livestock Industry Diversification Act. Regulations and procedures have been established to ensure that elk and deer farming can develop as an industry while preserving Alberta’s wildlife resources. In 2004, there were 431 elk farms in Alberta, with a domestic elk population of over 41,000. In 2001, the Korean government banned the import of North American EVA due to concerns over chronic wasting disease (CWD). Korea is the world’s leading consumer of EVA. The closure of the U.S. border in 2003 due to one case of BSE in beef cattle also meant closure to ranched elk products, including EVA. It took more than two years to reopen the U.S. border while Asian borders remain closed. Difficulties negotiating trade arrangements with foreign countries continue to plague all livestock producers in Canada. Continued development of the North American market should help insulate the elk industry in the coming years from the uncertainty of international markets.6

Commercial elk production in Alberta involves the controlled breeding and raising of elk for the production and sale of elk meat, velvet antler, breeding stock, and trophy bulls. Primary markets for elk producers are for elk meat, EVA and trophy bulls.

The Alberta Elk Commission works in partnership with the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association to certify elk producers to remove elk antler humanely. This not only ensures low stress levels for the animals, but it also delivers a product consistent in quality that can be harvested from the same bull throughout the course of his life after his first year. Through its antler tagging database and monitoring system, Alberta Agriculture can trace any piece of antler to the farm and animal it originated from. In conjunction with processing plant health and safety regulations from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada, this ensures a strictly monitored and safe supply chain for EVA from the moment the antler leaves the animal until it is packaged and sold.

What is chronic wasting disease (CWD) and what does it have to do with ranched elk in Alberta?
Chronic wasting disease is a progressive, fatal, degenerative disease of the brain affecting elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. It is a reportable disease in Canada under the Health of Animals Act. While it is not the same as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), it belongs to a related group of diseases caused by abnormal proteins called prions that accumulate in the brain of an infected animal.

Through a voluntary surveillance program, one case of CWD was detected in an Alberta domestic elk. Since then, the Alberta government has implemented its Mandatory CWD Surveillance Program. It demands that every domestic elk or deer in Alberta over the age of one be tested for CWD when they die from any causes. This is a more comprehensive monitoring system than the one used for Alberta beef cattle. Since 2002 there been over 40,000 Alberta domestic elk tested and no cases of CWD have been found. There is no evidence to suggest that CWD can affect humans.7

1 Velvet Antler, a summary of the literature on health benefits. A report for the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, Australia. Chris Tuckwell, Nov. 2003.
2 Ibid.
3 A Review of Scientific Literature on the Health Benefits of Velvet Antler, Ann Cooney, University of Saskatchewan, 2001.
4 Ibid
5 “Where and When,” Industry History Factsheet. Canadian Cervid Council, 2003.
6 The Alberta Elk Industry Farm Enterprise Manual. Alberta Agriculture, 2005
7 Chronic Wasting Disease of Elk and Deer, Agri-Facts. Alberta Agriculture, 2003