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Musk (she xiang)

What is musk? What is it used for?

Although musk is not an herb, it is still a relatively important component of traditional Chinese medicine. Musk comes from the wild musk deer, which ranges throughout China and much of Mongolia. The musk is produced in the musk pod, a gland located in a pouch or sac under the abdomen of the male musk deer. Typically, musk pods are harvested by being removed from the deer via a surgical procedure, then dried in the air. After being dried, the musk pod is cut open, revealing a small, oval-shaped kernel.

The main chemical compound in musk is muscone, which gives musk its distinctive, persistent odor. Muscone is an important component of many perfumes, but also has medicinal properties as well.

In traditional Chinese medicine, musk is considered pungent and warm, and is affiliated with the Heart and Spleen meridians. Its main functions are to promote blood circulation, improve and restore menstrual flow, and relieve pain caused by traumatic injuries. Some practitioners have used musk in combination with other herbs to help with slow or difficult childbirth, and to treat sore throats.

How much musk should I take?

The typical dosage of musk is extremely small - between 0.06 grams and 0.1 grams. It can be administered both internally and externally, but should not be cooked or included in any type of tea or decoction.

What forms of musk are available?

Fresh musk is liquid, but turns into a powder when it dries. Musk is usually found in pill and powder farm as part of a larger formula. Musk is also synthesized artificially, and carries many of the properties as natural musk.

What can happen if I take too much musk? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Because musk helps to speed up childbirths, it should not be taken by pregnant women. Patients should also be extremely careful about the dosage of musk being taken; small doses of musk can stimulate the nervous system, while large doses can inhibit it. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking musk or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Callister D, Bythewood T. Of Tiger Treatments and Rhino Remedies: Trade in Endangered Species Medicines in Australia and New Zealand. Sydney: TRAFFIC Oceania, 1995.
  • Dasgupta A, Szelei-Stevens K. Neutralization of free digoxin-like immunoreactive components of Oriental medicines dan shen and lu-shen-wan by the FAB fragment of antidigoxin antibody (digiband). American Journal of Clinical Pathology 2004;121(2):277-281.
  • Huang TK. Handbook of Chinese Materia Medica Constituents and Pharmacological Effects. Beijing: Chinese Medical Science Publishers, 1994.
  • Klein-Franke F, Ming Z, Qi D. The passage of Chinese medicine to the West. American Journal of Chinese Medicine Summer-Fall 2001.
  • Zhang J. Alternatives to the use of endangered species in Chinese medicine. Proceedings of the Second Australian Symposium on Traditional Medicine and Wildlife Conservation, Melbourne, Australia, March 1999. Available online at www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/trade-use/publications/symposium/alternatives.html.

 



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Date Last Modified - Wednesday, 17-Dec-2008 13:00:04 PDT