Russian President Vladimir Putin loves to photograph himself shirtless and why not? He has an exceptionally well-developed physique for a 65-year-old. But what’s the secret behind his enduring fitness?
Apparently, it's deer antler blood.
Local media reports claim the Russian president is one of many people who bathes and even consumes the blood from severed antlers of Siberian red deer. According to legend, the blood gives them strength, stops the aging process and improves male potency.
Putin first asked about the alleged medicinal properties of maral — the Siberian red deer — antler “broth” about 10 years ago. In 2015, around 70 kilograms of deer antlers were prepared for Putin to take a bath in, when he decided to visit the Altai Mountains, said kapitalist.tv. According to reports, the Russian president has visited the mountain range several times in the past few years and even consulted maral blood medical expert Alexander Zuykov, The Mirror reported.
However, the age-old tradition has no basis in science. There is no evidence that bathing in deer blood improves health, although some Russian institutes believe there should be more research on the subject.
Animal rights groups say the tradition is “barbaric” and extremely frightening and painful for the animal.
The animal is held suspended in the air while its head is placed on a ledge. Two or three men climb atop it and a trainer muzzles its mouth. A man then places his foot on the neck of the animal, which prevents the deer from budging, and then slices off the antler. The procedure is done without anesthesia and is very traumatic for the animal.
The blood is dubbed as “natural Viagra” by proponents. It is used in blood creams, pill and even alcoholic drinks. It is also boiled into a “broth” and used in baths.
According to an investigative report by CNN, conducted in the Altai Mountains, the procedure is “no big deal” for the animal as they grow a new pair every year. But, when the antlers are grown back, they are hacked off again. This happens to a deer in deer farms about 15 times in its lifetime, as farmers begin cutting off their horns when the animal is just 3 years old.
Some of the blood is also imported to Asian countries, like China and South Korea, where similar beliefs create a thriving trade.
The farmers at Nikolskoe, who CNN Interviewed, said even Russian Olympic athletes visit the resort for antler treatment. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also uses the treatment.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images