From London's Ghost Acres

Musk is used to denote a class of substances that emit a strong scent that is commonly used as a base note in perfumes. The name was originally derived from the gland secretions from the mush deer, but can now also be used to refer to scents obtained from other animals and plants. (

Musk is used as an antispasmodic and stimulant in the Compendium, being noted as “one of the strongest antispasmodics” possessed by medicine at the time. While it was more commonly used in perfume, it could also be used to treat sufferers of epilepsy, hooping-cough, and low fevers.

British Pharmacopoeia 1867

Musk Moschus

“The inspissated and dried secretion from the preputial follicles of Moschus moschiferus…; native of the mountainous regions of Central Asia. Imported from China and Asia.” [1]


“In irregular reddish-black rather unctuous grains; having a strong peculiar very diffusible odour, and a bitter aromatic taste; contain in a round or slightly oval membranous sac, about two inches in diameter, covered on the outer side with stiff greyish hairs arranged in a concentric manner around its central orifice.” Given in a dose of 5-10 grains.[2]

A Compendium of Domestic Medicine, 1865

Classified as an Antispasmodic (Remedies Which Remove Spasms or Colic)(410/389) and as a Stimulant (Remedies Which Speedily Increase the Frequency of the Pulse and the Heat of the Body)[3]

“Is esteemed one of the strongest anti-spasmodic and stimulants we possess” and can be used to treat hysterical paroxysms, epilepsy, hooping-cough, and low fevers during their later stages. As an enema, it has often calmed convulsions had by children “produced by dentition” [4]

“It is extensively used as a perfume”[5]

Remedies Containing or to be used with Musk

  • Ammonia, Sesquecarbonate of: musk included in “Anti-Spasmodic Mixtures”[6]
  • Buchu Leaves: tincture of mush included in a mixture used to treat gravel and “general nervousness of the system” [7]
  • Musk: see def[8]
  • Tincture of Artificial Musk: to be given daily to children, Savory does not indicate why.[9]

Diseases Treated with Musk

General Diseases

  • Ear, Disease of the: in cases of discharge coming from the ear, a few grains of musk placed inside the ear and held in place with cotton wool can help diminished the amount of discharge[10]


  1. General Medical Council of Great Britain, British Pharmacopeia, (London: Spottiswoode & Co.,1867), 215
  2. GMCGB, 216
  3. Savory, John. A Compendium of Domestic Medicine (London: John Churchill and Sons, 1865), 394.
  4. Savory, 103-04
  5. Savory, 104
  6. Savory, 16
  7. Savory, 34
  8. Savory, 103-04
  9. Savory, 134
  10. Savory, 229