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Musk

Chinese: 麝香

Pinyin: Shè Xiāng

Parts used: Musk gland of the deer

TCM category: Herbs that open the Orifices

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Heart Liver

Scientific name: Secretio Moschus

Other names: Moschus

Use of musk (She Xiang) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: The musk secretions should be extracted from the gland and dried.

Dosage: 0.075 - 0.15 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Opens the Orifices and awakens the spirit. Moves Blood and reduces inflammation and pain. Moves downward, assisting the delivery of late or stillborn babies.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which musk may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Loss of consciousness Convulsions Seizures Boils Carbuncles Traumatic injuries

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by pregnant women nor should it be used in cases of Yin Deficiency with Heat signs. It should be used with caution by those with high blood pressure.

Common TCM formulas in which musk (She Xiang) are used*

Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Source date: 1172 AD

Number of ingredients: 11 herbs

Formula key actions: Drains Liver and Gallbladder Fire Excess.

Conditions targeted*: VertigoTinnitus and others

She Xiang is an envoy ingredient in Dang Gui Long Hui Wan. This means that it directs the formula towards certain area of the body and/or harmonizes the actions of other ingredients.

In Dang Gui Long Hui Wan, She Xiang ensures that the bitter nature of the formula does not lead to a breakdown of the Qi dynamic; it adds regulation of the Qi to the draining of Fire.

Read more about Dang Gui Long Hui Wan

Key TCM concepts behind musk (She Xiang)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), musk are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that open the Orifices' category. The functions of these herbs are much more platonic than the name implies. They're used to help treat conditions associated with central nervous system collapse, including strokes and coma.

Furthermore musk are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that musk tend to help people who have too much 'Cold' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Cold in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess(because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition musk can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Musk also taste Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like musk tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such musk are thought to target the Spleen, the Heart and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.