Kasthuri (Musk) in Siddha Medicine for venereal diseases

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Musk is the name originally given to a substance with a penetrating odor obtained from a gland of the male musk deer. The substance has been used as a popular perfume fixative since ancient times and is one of the most expensive animal products in the world. The name, originated from Sanskrit muṣká meaning "testicle," has come to encompass a wide variety of substances with somewhat similar odors although many of them are quite different in their chemical structures. They include glandular secretions from animals other than the musk deer, numerous plants emitting similar fragrances, and artificial substances with similar odors.

Until the late 19th century, natural musk was used extensively in perfumery until economic and ethical motives led to the adoption of synthetic musk, which is used almost exclusively. The organic compound primarily responsible for the characteristic odor of musk is muscone.

Modern use of natural musk pods occurs in Siddha medicine, Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese medicine.

Sources of Musk

Musk Deer

The musk deer belongs to the family Moschidae and lives in India, Pakistan, Tibet, China, Siberia and Mongolia. To obtain the musk, the deer is killed and its gland, also called "musk pod", is removed. Upon drying, the reddish-brown paste inside the musk pod turns into a black granular material called "musk grain", which is then tinctured with alcohol. The aroma of the tincture gives a pleasant odor only after it is considerably diluted. No other natural substance has such a complex aroma associated with so many contradictory descriptions; however, it is usually described abstractly as animalic, earthy and woody or something akin to the odor of baby's skin.

Musk has been a key constituent in many perfumes since its discovery, being held to give a perfume long-lasting power as a fixative. Today the trade quantity of the natural musk is controlled by CITES but illegal poaching and trading continues.

Other animals
Ondatra zibethicus, the muskrat
Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), a rodent native to North America, has been known since the 17th century to secrete a glandular substance with a musky odor. A chemical means of extracting it was discovered in the 1940s, but it did not prove commercially worthwhile.

Glandular substances with musk-like odor are also obtained from the Musk Duck (Biziura lobata) of southern Australia, the muskox, the musk shrew, the musk beetle (Aromia moschata), African Civet (Civettictis civetta), the musk turtle, the alligator of Central America, and from several other animals.

In crocodiles, there are two pairs of musk glands, one pair situated at the corner of the jaw and the other pair in the cloaca. Musk glands are also found in snakes.


Some plants such as Angelica archangelica or Abelmoschus moschatus produce musky smelling macrocyclic lactone compounds. These compounds are widely used in perfumery as substitutes for animal musk or to alter the smell of a mixture of other musks.

The plant sources include musk flower (Mimulus moschatus), the muskwood (Olearia argophylla) of the Guianas and West Indies, and the seeds of Abelmoschus moschatus (musk seeds).

Use of Musk In Siddha Medicine:

In Traditional Siddha Medicine Musk is obtained from the male deer. This is produced in male deer during winter season in order to attract the female deer. This is produced from the region between the penis of the male deer and the upper skin. The musk is covered by a thin membrane. About 26-52.5 gm of musk can be obtained from one deer. It is highly fragrant and the fragrance can spread to a wider area. After the winter season is over, tha male deer rup¬tures the membrane through its hoof and the musk leaks out. the musk is very difficult to obtain. Mny plant materials have got the fragrance similar to that of musk; the waste products of some living organisms also posses the fragrance similar to that of musk. From these, artificl musk is prepared and used as perfumes.

Test for musk:
1. If a small quantity of the musk  placed in water, remains undissloved, it may be inferred that the musk is a pure one and if it dis¬solves it is impure.
2. When a small quantity of the musk placed in fire, melts with bubble it is pure. It will not melt but will burn and become hard like a steel, if impure.
3. If burned in earth if it will not lose, it's fragrance with soft and oily base if it is pure musk.
4. If a thread placed on asafoetida has the smell of asafoetida after placing in musk, it is not a pure one.

Colour of the musk:
The musk normally blackish brown in colour. There are five kinds in musk viz :
Karikai Red
Thilakai Sesamum seed
Kulundai Kollu
Pindakai Solid
Nayakai Small size

Properties and uses of musk:
The musk is bitter in taste and produces hyperthermia. It has body strengthening and anti convulsion properties. It stimulates the heart and nervous system and also improves blood circulation.

The musk is also useful in delirium, kaphavatha. asthma and in epi-lepsy.

Adjuvants: The musk is also given for removal of fatigue caused by chronic fever. This is given along with poorana chandrodhayam ( 32 -260mg) in honey.

If the musk is mixed with Thambira chendooram ( 16 mg -32 mg) and given with Juice of Daemia extensa (உத்தாமணி, Uthamani) asthma will be cured, as evidenced by the famous text of Siddhar Theraiyar Maruthu Bharatham.
Preparations Made out of Musk

This is used to remove the blood waste from the uterus after delivery.

The essential ingredients of this preparation: Musk, dried ginger, pepper, Piper longum and mustard  The pills are taken with water is useful to control vatha diseases like - vatha fever, shivering with vatha fever and contraction due to rheumatism. If it is taken with honey it cures pitha disease like-pitha fever and pithavayu. If taken with the flower juice of cassia, it cures kapha fever, delirium due to kapha, headache and pricking pain in head. If it is taken with lemon juice, it cures ano-rectal diseases and ulcer due to venereal diseases.

Other preparations of musk:

KASTHURI THAILAM (from the text Theran thailavarkkam):
This is effective in the treatment of epilepsy in children,asthma, un-conscious, kaphavatham, stomach diseases, anal obstruction, tumour, vatham and mental disorders.

This is effective if taken along with mother's milk for delirium, pitha fever, headache, vomiting and sinusitis. It is also used with other perfumery items.

The musk is also used as an ingredient for giving fragrant to various thailams such as chukku thailam, chiru santhanadhi thailam.

It is also added in the aphrodisiac medicines and ingreater medicines like maharaja mirugangam, poorana chandrodhayam.

The western physicians use the musk (195 mg) along with camphor as a heart stimulant.

It can be used as netri pottu small dot paste on the centre of forehead for facial attraction.
Cough pills are also prepared from musk. 

All the above details given are for information purpose only. It is not advisable to try anything yourself. It is strongly recommended to consult a qualified Siddha Physician before taking any Siddha Medication.

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