Martindales 24th and USD 1926
Compiled and edited by Ivor Hughes.

Part 1. Musk. The Musk deer.
Part 2. Castor. The Beaver.
Part 3. Civet. The Civet Cat

These monographs are presented for the purpose of illustrating the type of materials that were used by the Apothecary and Orthodox Pharmacist of the not too distant past. Please bear in mind that some of these creatures were hunted almost to extinction mainly at the instigation the perfumery trade. These coveted substances contain sex hormones for the purpose of arousal. With the introduction of the much cheaper synthetics the pressure on breeding populations was relieved as demand fell on world markets. Times are such that these creatures may once again be endangered.

Martindales 24th 1958
Musk~(B.P.C. 1934). Moschus; Deer Musk. The dried secretion from the preputial follicles of the musk deer, Moschus moschiferus (Moschidae). It has a powerful penetrating and persistent odour which is due to the presence of the ketone muskone, C16H30O.

Musk is used as a fixative in perfumery. It was formerly regarded as a powerful medullary stimulant and was used in the treatment of hiccup, hysteria, and other nervous manifestations. Dose: 300 to 600 mg. (5 to 10 grains).

The butyl derivatives of several aromatic hydrocarbons are sold as artificial musk�s; they are similarly employed in perfumery but are usually regarded as inferior to the natural substance.

United States Dispensatory 1926
Musk. Mosckus U. 8. IX, Deer Musk.
Muse, Fr., Bisam, Gc., Muschio, It., Almizole, Sp.

The dried secretion from the preputial follicles of Mosohus mosehiferus Linne (Fam. Moschidce). Preserve it carefully in glass-stoppered bottles." U. S. IX. Musk is no longer recognized by either the U. S. or British Pharmacopoeia.

The musk-deer is a small animal about 20 inches in height, differing from other deer�s in that there are no antlers in either sex. It is an extremely wary animal of a deep iron gray color, inhabiting the mountainous districts of Central Asia where it is hunted for its hide as well as for the peculiar secretion known as musk. This latter is contained in an oval, hairy, projecting sac, found only in the male, situated between the umbilicus and the prepuce, from two or three inches long, and from one to two broad, opening by a small hairy orifice at its anterior part, and marked posteriorly by a groove or furrow which corresponds with the opening of the prepuce. It is lined internally by a smooth membrane, thrown into a number of irregular folds, forming incomplete partitions. In the vigorous adult animal, the sac sometimes contains six drachms of musk; but in the old, seldom more than two drachms, and none in the young. As soon as the animal is killed, the sac is cut off, dried, and sent into the market.

The so-called Tonquin musk (which really comes from the province of Sze-Chuen in China) and the Tibetan musk, which are the preferred varieties, appear in commerce as flattish, circular or oval cakes called "pods," of about 5 to 7 centimeters in diameter and 2 or 3 cm. in thickness. They are convex and hairy on one side, flat and destitute of hair on the other. The hairs are brownish-yellow, grayish, or whitish, stiff and short, and arranged concentrically around the orifice of the sac. The pods of the Yunan musk, which is obtained in the Chinese province of that name, may easily be distinguished by their more nearly spherical outline. The Assam and Nepaul musk are in spherical pods which are much smaller than those of the Tonquin variety. A variety known as Gabardine musk is exported from China into Japan, but does not appear to enter this country.

Fresh musk is an unctuous, brownish, semi-liquid�but in the dried condition, as it appears in our markets, is in grains or lumps concreted together, soft and unctuous to the touch, and of a reddish-brown or ferruginous color resembling that of dried blood. Some hairs of the pod are generally mixed with it. It was officially described as " usually in small irregular granules, not more than 2 mm. in thickness, blackish with a few brown fragments and becoming somewhat grayish on aging; glistening and somewhat oily; odor peculiar, penetrating, powerful and peristent; taste somewhat bitter. Add a few granules of

Musk to 2 mils of water in a watch crystal and stir with a glass rod; a light brown solution is obtained. The undissolved portion consists of irregular fragments containing a finely granular substance, numerous rod-like bacteria and occasionally the hyphae of a fungus. Add a drop of iodine T.S. to a few granules of Musk on a slide and examine it under the microscope; the particles are not colored blue or bluish-black (starch). Add a few granules of Musk to 2 mils of alcohol contained in a watch crystal; the grains sink to the bottom, and upon stirring with a glass rod, a pale brown, slightly cloudy solution is obtained, leaving a somewhat oily stain upon the upper portion of the watch crystal as the alcohol evaporates; the undissolved portion or residue resembles that obtained with the aqueous mixture, except that the particles are less disintegrated.

Add a few granules of Musk to 2 mils of chloroform in a watch crystal; the grains float on the surface and upon stirring with a glass rod, the solution remains nearly colorless, and as it evaporates there separates around the particles a small quantity of a whitish, oily or fatty substance. Not less than 50 per cent, of Musk is soluble in water, the solution having a strong, distinctly characteristic odor, and a slightly acid reaction. Hot less than 10 per cent, of Musk is soluble in alcohol, the solution being of a light, yellowish-brown color and becoming slightly turbid upon the addition of water. Musk loses not more than 15 per cent, of moisture when dried to constant weight in a desiccator over sulphuric acid. Musk yields not more than 8 per cent, of ash." U. S. IX.

The odor is strong, penetrating and so diffusive that one part of musk communicates its odor to more than 3000 parts of inodorous powder. (Fee.) In some delicate individuals it produces headache and other disagreeable symptoms, and it has even caused convulsions. The color of the powder is reddish-brown. Musk is inflammable, burning with a white flame, and leaving a light spongy charcoal. It yields, upon analysis, a great number of proximate principles. Among these are fatty substances � such as stearin, olein and cholesterin�various proteins, various inorganic salts, and a small amount of a thick, colorless oily substance, apparently related to the ketones; this, which has been called muskone, possesses a powerful musk-like odor. Geiger and Reinman found a peculiar bitter resin, a peculiar substance in part combined with ammonia, and lactic acid both free and in combination. The action of potassium hydroxide upon musk is accompanied with the extrication of ammonia and an increase of its peculiar odor. By the influence of heat and moisture long continued, ammonia is developed, which acts upon the fatty matter, producing a substance resembling adipocere. When kept in glass bottles, in a situation neither moist nor very dry, it remains for a great length of time without material change. The odor of musk is very much diminished by mixing it with emulsion or syrup of bitter almond, or with cherry-laurel water. From the experiments of Wimmer, it appears that musk loses its odor when rubbed with golden sulphide of antimony, and reacquires it on the addition of a little solution of ammonia. Camphor rubbed up with musk is also said to destroy its odor.

The price of this medicine is so high, and its sources are so limited, as to offer strong temptations to adulteration, and little genuine unmixed musk is to be found in the market. A common practice in the East is to open the sac and to introduce all sorts of substances as dried blood, sand, resins, lead shot, etc. Some of these adulterations are obvious on even a casual observation but others are difficult of detection. The only safe rule is to purchase the musk in the sac, which should present no evidence of having been opened. The slit is sometimes carefully sewed up, sometimes glued together. The former condition may be discovered by close inspection, the latter by immersion in hot water. When the bag is made from any other portion of the skin, the difference may be detected, according to Neligan, by the microscope. The genuine hairs exhibit innumerable cells, which are wanting in the spurious. (Chem. Gaz., Feb., 1846, p. 79.) Musk which burns with difficulty, has a feeble odor and a color either pale or entirely black, feels gritty to the finger, is very moist so as to lose much weight in drying, or contains obvious impurities, should be rejected. For an account of the effects of numerous reagents on musk, and other modes of identification, as well as of detecting adulterations, see Bernatzik (A. J. P., 1861).

There are a number of other animals that secrete substances with strong odors, more or less resembling that of true musk. Among these is the beaver (see under Castor) and civet cat (see Civet). Under the name of American musk a product of the musquash or muskrat (Fiber Zibethicus) has been used as a substitute for true musk in perfumery, although the odor is not identical.

By the preceding generation of physicians, musk was one of the most highly esteemed remedies; of recent years, however�whether because of difficulty in obtaining it or the lack of real virtue is uncertain�it has very largely passed out of vogue. It was attributed with remarkable restorative powers in the nervous exhaustion of low fevers, such as typhoid or adynamia pneumonia. It was also highly esteemed for its anti-spasmodic action, especially in hiccough and in laryngysmus stridulus. According to some authorities, musk rapidly loses its power of influencing the nerve centers, and for this reason, and on account of its costliness, its employment should always be delayed until severe nervous exhaustion becomes alarming. It may be given in pill or emulsion. The U. S. IX recognized a 5 per cent, tincture made with a menstruum of diluted alcohol.

Dose, from five to fifteen grains (0.32-1.0 Gm.).

Part 1. Musk. The Musk deer.          Part 2. Castor. The Beaver.          Part 3. Civet. The Civet Cat