Moschus, B.P. Musk.

Botanical name: 

Musk is the dried secretion from the preputial follicle of Moschus moschiferus, Linn. (Order Ungulata), a small deer widely distributed over the mountainous regions of Central Asia, especially in China and Thibet. Musk is also official in the U.S.P. The secretion is contained in a small sac situated immediately in front of the preputial orifice of the male deer. This sac is formed by an invagination of the skin, and produces on its inner surface alveoli, in which the secretion is formed, and from which it is discharged into the cavity of the sac; the latter opens by a small canal close to the preputial orifice. The sacs are cut from the animal, trimmed, dried, and exported chiefly from Shanghai in small rectangular boxes known as "caddies." In London these are opened on arrival, and the pods examined, probed with a thin-bladed knife, and classified according to their quality. After sale the pods are opened and the granular contents exposed to the air to dry, the ammoniacal odour which is often strongly marked being thus dissipated; in this way the grain musk of commerce is obtained. The best variety of musk is that known as Tonquin. It occurs in pods which are nearly circular, about 5 to 6.5 centimetres in diameter, about 2 centimetres thick; the lower surface, which is part of the hide of the animal, bears numerous brownish or brownish-white hairs surrounding a small, nearly central orifice. The upper surface is usually a thin, blue, iridescent skin ("blue skin" pods), but sometimes the tough, natural skin that originally covered this membrane has not been removed ("natural skin" pods). The pods weigh from 25 to 35 grammes, and contain about half that weight of musk. Yunnan musk is obtained from the Chinese province of that name. It is distinguished from the Tonquin by the pod being spherical or pear-shaped instead of flattened, and by the peculiar appearance of the depressed orifice, which, with the two small nipples near it, have given it the name of "pig-faced musk." It is almost equal in quality to Tonquin. Cabardine musk seldom reaches the London market; the pods are flatter and yellower, and inferior to the Tonquin. Some musk is also sent from Assam, most of it being imported in grains; the pods resemble Tonquin, but the hairs are longer, whiter, and coarser. Grain musk sent from Nepaul via Calcutta is usually of inferior quality. Grain musk occurs in moist grains or granular masses, of a dark reddish-brown colour, penetrating odour, and slightly bitter taste. Water dissolves 50 to 75 per cent. of musk, alcohol only 10 to 12 per cent. It should not contain more than 15 per cent. of moisture, nor yield more than 8 per cent. of ash. Examined under the microscope it is seen to consist of irregular fragments and granules with oil globules, epithelial cells, and often the hyphae of a fungus. Musk is very much adulterated, stone, shot, dried blood, resin, and various other substances having been used for this purpose. The amount and pale colour of the ash, the slight solubility in alcohol, the appearance under the microscope, and the aroma sufficiently indicate the purity.

Constituents.—The odorous principle of musk appears to be an oily liquid of ketonic nature, and has been termed muskone; it bears no relation whatever to artificial musk; the bitter taste is due to a. resin. The drug also contains fatty matter, proteins, and inorganic substances.

Action and Uses.—Musk was formerly regarded as a powerful stimulant to the medulla, and good results have been obtained from its use in cases of collapse. There is, however, no evidence to show that it has any action other than that due to its odour. It has been used in the treatment of hysteria, hiccough, and other nervous manifestations, also in spasmodic asthma, and as a stimulant in typhoid fever, pneumonia, and bronchitis; the addition of camphor is an advantage. Musk is best administered in the form of a cachet, the drug being rubbed with a little milk sugar; an emulsion may be prepared by triturating the musk with an equal quantity of gum acacia and sugar and adding water, or pills may be made by adding a little gum acacia and massing with syrup of glucose. It may also be given by rectal injection. Musk is sometimes given in the form of tincture. It is largely used in perfumery, and for this purpose a synthetic substitute is also prepared; this artificial musk (Musk Baur), or trinitro-butyl-toluene, has been used in medicine, in the form of tincture, in the treatment of whooping cough. It occurs in the form of a white crystalline powder, or in yellowish-white needles when crystallised from alcohol. It is insoluble in water, but readily soluble in alcohol, ether, benzene, or chloroform. Melting-point, 96° to 97°. It has a strong odour of musk, even in dilute solutions. As in the case of the natural substance, traces of alkali enhance its odour.

Dose.—3 to 6 decigrams (5 to 10 grains).


Tinctura Moschi, U.S.P. and B.P.C.—TINCTURE OF MUSK. 1 in 20.
Used as an antispasmodic in hysteria and asthma, and as a stimulant in pneumonia and other acute fevers. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (½ to 1 fluid drachm).

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.