SOURCE.—Musk is obtained from a small bag or sac attached to the prepuce of the male Musk deer, Mos'chus moschif'erus, a species of hornless deer found in Central Asia from Thibet to China. The musk-sac is somewhat oval and about 50 mm. (2 in.) in diameter, containing in the mucous lining a number of delicate glands which secrete the musk.
DESCRIPTION.—A granular substance of a brownish or reddish-black color, having a very strong, peculiar, and penetrating odor. The granules are irregular in size, and have a smooth, oil appearance and a bitter taste. The color of the fresh article is considerably lighter than that which has been dried and prepared for the market, although the commercial product is estimated to contain about 10 per cent. of moisture. The dried musk is contained in the original sac, one-half of which is smooth and the other covered with hairs arranged concentrically around two orifices. The quantity of musk in each sac amounts to about 160 grains. Not more than one-tenth of this musk is dissolved by strong alcohol, with which it forms a light yellowish-brown tincture, while as much as one-half of it can be dissolved in water, forming with it a dark brown solution having a very strong odor. Should not contain more than 15 per cent. of moisture nor 8 per cent. of ash.
VARIETIES.—Besides the Chinese or Thibetan musk, which is of the most excellent quality, there is also a Siberian musk, the quality of which is inferior. There is also an artificial musk which comes more properly under the head of adulterations. The Siberian or Russian variety is generally quite easily distinguished, the containing sac being more elongated than that of the Chinese variety, and the hair thinner and lighter.
ADULTERATIONS.—An artificial musk is manufactured by the Chinese and is made up chiefly of a mixture of blood and ammonia to which a small quantity of real musk is added, the whole being inclosed in a piece of the skin of the musk ox. Resin, lead, and other substances are also resorted to in preparing adulterations.
CONSTITUENTS.—Free ammonia, fat, albumen, an acid, wax, and gelatinous principles can be easily separated, but it has been impossible to separate the odoriferous principle. The gray ash left after burning the pure musk constitutes about 8 per cent. of the drug. The odor of musk is destroyed or greatly modified by the action of several substances, such as camphor, ergot, hydrocyanic acid, etc.
ACTION AND USES.—Antispasmodic and diffusible stimulant, together with more or less aphrodisiac action. Its powerful and lasting odor makes it valuable as a perfume, either alone or in combination with other substances. Dose: 1 to 10 gr. (0.065 to 0.6 Gm.), administered in the form of powder, pills, or enema, the powder being generally taken with milk.
- OFFICIAL PREPARATION.
- Tinctura Moschi (5 per cent.) Dose: 2 fl. dr. (8 mils).