Scientific Name(S): Moschus moschiferus L. Family: Moschidae
Common Name(S): Musk, Tonquin musk, deer musk
Source: The musk deer (M. moschiferus) is a small, solitary animal that attains a stature of only 0.5 m. It is native to mountainous regions of Asia, including Tibet and northeastern China. Both the male and female lack antlers.
Musk is an odiferous secretion derived from the musk gland under the abdomen near the pubis of the male musk deer. The glands weigh up to 30 g and contain about half their weight in musk. According to Leung, there are two methods of obtaining musk. In the first method, the trapped deer is killed in late winter or early spring and the gland is removed. The dried whole gland (known as the pod) or the dried glandular secretions inside (musk grains) are employed in commerce.
Alternately, musk is collected from deer raised in captivity. The musk is removed from the gland of immobilized animals by use of a special spoon. The musk is collected once or twice a year.
This material should not be confused with musk root (Ferula sumbul Hook, Family: Apiaceae), which is sometimes used as a substitute for musk in the perfume industry.
History: The use of musk dates back more than 1300 years when it was used by rulers of early Chinese dynasties. Consequently, it has a broad historical tradition in Chinese herbal medicine. Today, it is used as a component of fragrances and as a fixative in perfumes.
Uses of Musk:
Musk is used as a fragrance and component in herbal medicine. It reportedly shows anti-inflammatory and antihistaminic activity, and various other therapeutic effects as a stimulant, treatment for angina, etc.
Side Effects of Musk:
Topical use may cause symptoms such as contact dermatitis, photosensitivity, etc
Toxicology: No significant reports of systemic toxicity have been associated with the use of musk.
As with many naturally derived compounds that are applied topically, there exists a potential for a dermal hypersensitivity reaction. Musk components are known to cause a variety of dermal reactions, including pigmented dermatitis following the application of musk-containing rouge and photoallergic contact dermatitis following the use of musk-containing fragrances. In a survey of dermatology clinics in Scandinavia, musk ambrette was among the leading topical photosensitizers reported. This material was similarly cited as one of the most photosensitizing compounds reported by Mayo Clinic patients.Summary: Musk is an odiferous material derived from a gland of the Asian musk deer. Its unique odor has made it an important component of perfumes. Although traditionally derived from deer that had been killed for the express purpose of musk collection, the material today is largely obtained from deer specifically raised for musk production.
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