(From the Arabic term mosch). Musk, amisa, is an odoriferous grumous substance, an inspissated secreted fluid of the moschua moschiferus of Linnaeus, and the Tibet musk of Pennant. This animal is of the deer kind, and the drug is found in a follicle of the size of a hen's egg, on the belly of the male only. The bag is kidney shaped, pendulous, opening by two small orifices; a naked oblong one, and another smaller with long hairs. The best musk is brought from Tonquin in China, in thin bags, with brownish hairs; an inferior sort from the East Indies is in bags with white hairs. Neumann thinks both equally good.

The best musk is dry, with a kind of unctuosiry, of a dark reddish brown colour, in small round grains, with very few hard black clots, perfectly free from any sandy or other visible foreign matter. Chewed and rubbed with a knife on paper, it is bright, yellowish, smooth, and free from grittiness. Laid on a red hot iron, it flames, and burns almost entirely away, leaving only an exceedingly small quantity of light greyish ashes. The taste is bitterish and subacrid, the smell highly fragrant, in small quantities, or at a distance. Rectified spirit of wine takes up the whole of the active part; but the smell is only discovered on dilution: a drop or two communicates to a quart of wine, or to water, a rich scent. The quantity of liquor which may thus be flavoured by a certain known proportion of musk is the best criterion of its goodness. With water it is mixed only by the intervention of mucilage, as in the following preparation.

Mistura moschata, formerly Julefium moscho. - Take of rose water, six ounces; of musk, two scruples; of the mucilage of gum arabic, and of double refined sugar, of each one drachm; grind the musk with sugar, then with the gum, and add the rose water by degrees. Volatile spirits enable the water to suspend or dissolve more of the musk; and two drachms of the volatile spirit may be added to the above mixture. Dose, two or three table spoonfuls. In distillation, however, water carries over all the odoriferous matter, while the rectified spirit scarcely conveys any portion of it.

Though the smell of musk sometimes disorders those who are peculiarly sensible and irritable, yet, when taken inwardly, it abates those symptoms which its smell produces. It is one of the principal antispasmodics; but its advantages are often lost by giving it in too small doses. Dr. Wall informs us that two persons, labouring under a subsultus 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; adding that convulsive hiccoughs, attended with the worst symptoms, were removed by two doses often grains each. When, on account of convulsions, no medicine could be given at the mouth, musk succeeded in a clyster; and those who were averse to perfumes, expressed no objection to it in a bolus; but under six grains he never saw any benefit by its use. Ten grains and upward promoted usually a diaphoresis without heating or giving any uneasiness: on the contrary, it abates pain, raises the spirits, and, after the sweat begins, promotes sleep; and in maniacal cases hath afforded a temporary relief. Dr. Owen, of Shrewsbury, relates a singular instance of success from yet larger doses, viz. of half a drachm every four hours, in a convulsive disorder, after all the usual methods had failed. See London Medical Observations and Inquiries, vol. iii.

Though we highly respect these authorities, yet our own experience does not support them in their full extent, which may probably be owing to the medicine not being genuine. In large doses it is said to procure sleep, and as certainly to occasion a profuse sweat. It has been hence considered as a sudorific, and given in the latter stages of fever, particularly where subsultus and convulsions had come on. In gout retroceding to the stomach or head, and in delirium, it is also said to be a valuable medicine.

Some practitioners consider musk as a medicine of little or no consequence; but for what reasons it is difficult to determine, since the experience of every day proves it certainly a diaphoretic and antispasmodic, given in such doses as are properly adapted to the constitution of the patient and nature of the complaint; but, on the whole, it is not a very certain or a very powerful medicine.

See Lewis and Cullen's Materia Medica, and Neumann's Chemical Works.

Moschus Arabum. See Abelmoschus.

Moschus a 'rtificialis, is a medicine lately introduced from Germany. Four ounces of nitrous acid are added to an ounce of oil of amber, constantly stirring them; and the result is a spongy mass, highly fetid, but resembling in smell nitrous oxide rather than musk. This preparation has been for some years known, and was introduced as a medicine for the hooping cough; but, even among the young, sanguine innovators is now seldom heard of.