This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Moschus Pharm. Lond. & Edinb Musk: an odoriferous, grumous subslance: found in a little bag, situated near the umbilical region of an oriental quadruped, which is said by some to bear the greatest resemblance to the goat, by others to the flag kind. The best musk is brought from Tonquin in China, an inferiour sort from Agria and Bengal, and a still worse from Russia.
Fine musk comes over in round thin bladders, generally about the size of pigeons eggs, covered with short brown hairs, well filled, and without any aperture or any appearance of their having been opened. The musk itself is dry, with a kind of unctuosity; of a dark reddish brown or rusty blackish colour; in small round grains, with very few hard black clots; perfectly free from any sandy or other visible foreign matter.
01. fyriae Germanis qui-bufdam.
Chewed, and rubbed with a knife on paper, it looks bright, yellowish, smooth and free from grittiness. Laid on a red-hot iron, it catches flame, and burns almost intirely away, leaving only an exceeding small quantity of light greyish allies: if any earthy substances have been mixed with the musk, the quantity of the residuum will discover them.
This concrete has a bitterish fubacrid taste; and a fragrant smell, agreeable at a distance, but so strong as to be disagreeable when smelt near to, unless weakened by a large admixture of other substances. A small quantity, macerated for a few days in rectified spirit of wine, imparts a deep colour, and a strong impregnation to the spirit: this tincture, of itself, discovers but little smell, the spirit covering or suppressing the smell; but on dilution it mani-fests the full fragrance of the musk, a drop or two communicating to a quart of wine or watery liquors a rich musky scent. The quantity of liquor which may thus be flavoured by a certain known proportion of musk, appears to be the best criterion of the genuineness and goodness of this commodity; a commodity, which is not only said to vary in goodness according to the season of its being taken from the animal (a), but which is oftentimes so artfully sophisticated, that the abuses cannot be discovered by any external characters, or by any other known means than the degree of its specific smell and taste, which the above experiment affords the most commodious method of measuring. The rectified spirit takes up completely the active matter of the musk; watery liquors extract it only in part. The shops endeavour to procure an union of its virtues with water by the intervention of sugar and gum arable: forty grains of musk and a dram of fine sugar are rubbed together, and then a dram of powdered gum: arabic is added; to this are poured by degrees six ounces by measure of rose water. But the molt elegant of all the liquid preparations of this drug, is the tincture in rectified spirit, which may be occasionally diluted with any watery liquors, like the other spirituous tinctures. This is directed in the Edinburgh pharmacopoeia in' the proportion of two drams of musk to a pound ' of spirit. By distillation, water becomes strongly impregnated with the scent of the musk, and seems to elevate all its odoriferous matter; while rectified spirit, on the contrary, brings over little or nothing of it.
(a) Strahlenberg, Descript. Ruff . Siber. &. p. 340.
Musk, a medicine of great esteem in the east-ern countries, has lately come into general use among us also, in some nervous disorders: though liable, by its strong impression on the organs of smell, to offend and disorder hysterical persons and constitutions of great sensibility, yet, when taken internally, it is found to abate symptoms of that kind which its smell produces, and to be one of the principal medicines of the antispasmodic class. Dr. Wall relates, that two persons labouring under a fubfultus tendinum, extreme anxiety, and want of sleep, occasioned by the bite of a mad dog, were perfectly relieved by two doses of musk of sixteen grains each: that convulsive hiccups, attended with the worst symptoms, were removed by a dose or two of ten grains: but in some cases, where this medicine could not, on account of strong convulsions, be administered by the mouth, it proved of service when injected as a glyster: that he never met with any person, how averse so ever to perfumes, but could take it in the form of a bolus without inconvenience: that under the quantity of six grains, he never found much effect from it, but that when given to ten grains and upwards, it produces a mild diaphorefis, without heating or giving any uneasiness, but on the contrary, abating pain and raising the spirits; and that after the sweat has begun, a refreshing sleep generally fucceeds(a). This medicine is now received in general practice, in different convulsive disorders; and its dose has been increased, with advantage, to a scruple, and half a dram, every four or six hours. It has been tried also in some maniacal cases; in which it seemed to procure a temporary relief.
Mistura mos-chata Ph. Lond.
Tinct. mosch. Ph. Ed.