Kasturi – Musk: Uses, Research, Remedies, Medicines, Side Effects

Kasturi – Musk, as commonly known, is a secretion from the animal Moschus Moschiferus or popularly known as Musk Deer found in the Himalayan mountains. The musk is used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, neurological diseases, nausea, bad odor, strengthening cardiac muscles and respiratory diseases. 

Zoological name- Moschus moschiferus
Family- Cervidae

Vernacular names

Names in different languages:
In many of the Indian languages Musk is known as Kasturi.

Sanskrit synonyms

Sanskrit synonyms of Kasthoori:
Kuranga Nabhi, Gandhachelika, Mrugandaja, Mruganabhi- The product is obtained from the navel region of the deer.
Mada, Madani, Mrugamada- The product has a strong or intoxicating smell.
Bahu Gandhaja, Mruga gandha, Vedhamukya, Sugandha, Marjari, Mada, Gandhavalik
Kastoorika, Marga, Darpa, Marjari, Marjali,
Lalita, Subhaga – attractive
Kamaroopodbhava, Kamananda, Kama Modi – aphrodisiac
Kashmiri – from Kashmir region
Shyamali – grey in colour

Description of musk sac

Musk proper is an inspissated and dried secretion (testicular extract) from the preputial follicles of the male musk deer (Moschus moschiferus). The material is found embedded in a sac which is oval or round with a diameter of about 1.5 inches; the upper surface is flat  with a smooth membrane and the under surface is covered with stiff hairs arranged concentrically round a small opening. The animal on an average yields 2-4 drachms of the secretion. Each animal (male) yields one musk-pod 2 inches in diameter. It occurs in irregular, reddish black, slightly unctuous grains. Musk when fresh is milky but later turns viscid and assumes a brownish-red color. It retains its strong diffusible odour for a long time and has a bitter aromatic taste.

Due to the over exploitation of the animal for the musk, the deer is listed under the endangered species. Many adulterants are available in the market in the name of Musk.


According to Bhavamishra there are mainly 3 types based on colour & Utpatti sthana,
Kamarupiya – Black in colour & superior
Naipali – Nila varna & moderate
Kashmiri – Kapil varna & inferior

The other varieties based on moderate classification:
Yunan musk
Assam & Nepal musk
Cabardine musk.

Properties, part used, dosage

Medicinal properties of musk:
Rasa (Taste) – Tikta (Bitter), Katu (Pungent)
Guna (Qualities) – Laghu (Light for digestion), Ruksha (Dry in nature), Teekshna (Strong)
Vipaka – Katu (Undergoes Pungent taste after digestion)
Veerya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)
Karma (Actions) – Kapha vata shamaka (reduces vitiated kapha and vata dosha)

Part used: Musk from the sac
Dose: 60 to 120 mg

Qualities as per Bhojana Kutuhala

Kapila (Tawny) – Available in Nepal
Pingala (Yellowish) – Available in Kashmir
Krshna (black) – Available in Kamarupa

It has five sub varieties:
Kharika – Smoky in appearance
Tilaka – Like a sesame seed
Kulattha – It resembles the seed of Kulattha
Pindika – Is a little larger than kulattha
Nadhika – Is a little larger than pindika, The musk is obtained from a gland situated in the rectal area of the male musk deer and is very penetrating in nature and is purified by a specific method.

Qualities of musk fit for usage
Musk which is bitter in taste, having golden yellow color, has fragrant like ketaki, which is light in weight and which does not loose its color when put in water is considered fit for usage.

Qualities of musk unfit for usage
Musk which emits a smoky odour, which becomes yellow when put in water, That which turns into ashes completely and instantly when burnt, which is heavy in weight and feels rough when crushed is considered to be unfit for usage.

Chemical composition

Chemical composition of Kasturi (Musk):
Musk contains ammonia, oleine, cholesterin, fat, wax, gelatinous matter, albuminous substances and leaves an ash. Ash is composed chiefly of the chlorides of potassium, sodium & calcium. When distilled, musk yields the principles muscone, muskone (0.3% to 2%), and normuscone. Muscone or 3-methylcyclopentadecanone, 1 is the key flavor component of musk. Two androstane alkaloids were isolated from the musk of M. moschiferus and the structures revealed by 2-dimensional nuclear magnetic resonance analysis. The structures were 3?-ureido-androst-4-en-17-one and 3?-ureido-androst-4-en-17?-ol. Other compounds present in musk include steroids, paraffins, triglycerides, waxes, mucopyridine, and other nitrogenous substances, and fatty acids.

External effect

Durgandha nashana – relieves bad odor,
Shitaprashamana – relieves coldness, improves warmth and blood circulation

Effect on nervous system

Nadi balya – improves nerve strength
Mastishka dourbalya – improves brain strength
Aakshephara – useful in epilepsy, seizure ,
Vatahara – useful in treating disorders of Vata Dosha imbalance  such as neuralgia, paralysis, constipation, bloating, etc
Deepana – improves digestion strength
Pachana – Digestive, relieves Ama Dosha
Anulomana – pro-kinetic
Hrudya – acts as cardiac tonic, congenial for heart

Kasthuri Uses

Uses of kasthuri – musk:
In Remittent fever of low type: Swalpa Kasturibhairava rasa. (Rasendrasarasangraha)
In hoarseness of voice & loss of speech: Mruganabhyarivaleha – Bhavaprakasha

As a cardiac stimulant: tincture of musk in dose of 10 – 30 minims
As a Rejuvenator: musk external application
In cardiac asthma due to plague: musk along with Makaradhwaja in powder form.
In convulsions: musk combined with Opium.
In convulsions: musk combined with chloral hydras (gr. 5 to gr.10 acc. to age) & tincture of musk (10 – 30 drops).

In toxic involvement of C.N.S. : 5 grains of powdered musk every 2 hrs.

In Metastatic gout: 1/10th grain of musk for adult.
In low fever, Anaemia & general debility : 2 grains of musk with two grains of Makaradhwaja given every 12 hrs with honey.
In general depression: pill made of 2 grain of musk and 3 grain of camphor is given.

Oral hygiene formulations

Take equal parts of kachhura, Ela, Valkala, Lavanga, Dala, Ghusruna & Shankhchurna nakha (fragrant shell). Add two parts of Malatiphala three parts of musk, kosh & kakkola each to it. Then add seven parts of Priyangu & 5/6th of bulk of khadira to it. Then it is mixed well in Sahakara juice. Thus the khadira pills are prepared.

– Jatiphala, Kasturi & Karpura levigated in the juice of leaves of Chuta & fumigated with Aguruka, Shihlaka, Madhu(honey), jaggery & Sita would make the mouth fragrant.

Body powders formulations

Twak, Agaru, Mustaka, Tagara, Chaura, Shathi, Granthiparnaka & Nakha(fragrant shell) along with Kasturi – taken in equal parts , makes excellent bath powder.

A powder made of Kasturi, Karpura, Chandana, Shaileya, Naga & Agaru is very good for body powders & also for “ Udvartana”.

Body salves formulations

  • Chatussama is obtained on mixing following drugs and one part of kasturi. Two parts of karpura. 2 parts of kumkum & 16 parts of chandan.
  • Kasturi, nagakusuma, shaileya, chandan & Ghanashivasa, kandak, Chandra, jati, sthauneya & putika.

The unguent of these finally powdered together with the juice of nagavalli (betel leaves) is said to give fragrance.

Sanskrit verse

Kasthuri uses as per Ayurveda:
Piper cubeba – Kankola
is considered as legal substitute for Kasturi

Adverse effect

Excess use of kasturi can cause burning sensation, intoxicating effect and giddiness.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines containing Kasturi:
V 3 Jelly –  It is a proprietary ayurvedic medicine used in the treatment of general debility, post – operative convalescence, hypotension, rapid weight loss. It is also useful in chronic cough, bronchitis, bronchial asthma and productive cough.

Swalpa – Kasturibhairav rasa  – from the book Rasendra Sara Sangraha used for the treatment of Jwara – fever, Shukranasha – oligospermia, Garbhanasha – repeated abortion, female infertility

Madhyam Kasturibhairav rasa – from the book – Rasendra Sara Sangraha used for the treatment of
Jwara – fever,
Shvasa – COPD, Asthma,
Kasa – cough, cold

Brihat Kasturibhairav rasa from the book Rasendra Sara Sangraha
Indicated for the treatment of fever, abdominal tumor, diabetes, Kshaya

Mrugamadasava from the textbook – Rasendra Sara Sangraha used for the treatment of male infertility and fever

Kasturi Modaka from the text book Rasendra Sara Sangraha used in
Grahani – IBS
Pandu – anemia,
Ashmari – urinary calculi
Mutratisaara – polyurea

Mruga nabhyadi  Avaleha mentioned in Bhavaprakasha indicated for the treatment of hoarseness of voice & loss of speech


Research articles related to Musk:
Anti – inflammatory action: Moschus moschiferus (musk) had significant anti – inflammatory activity in carrageenan induced edema, formalin arthritis and adjuvant arthritis. It was more potent than hydrocortisone and phenyl butazone in adjuvant arthritis. The secondary lesions produced in adjuvant arthritis were mild in musk and phenylbutazone treated groups in comparison to the moderate lesions in hydrocortisone treated group. Also, the weight loss was less in musk and phenylbutazone treated groups. Musk failed to prolong the survival time of the adrenal ectomized rats. It significantly decreased the histamine and the 5 HT content of the inflamed paw of the rats.

Classical categorization

Sushruta Samhita – Ahara varga
Bhava prakasha – Karpooradi varga
Dhanvantari Nighantu – Chandanadi varga
Kaiyyadeva Nighantu – Oushadhi varga, Mamsa varga
Raja Nighantu – Chandanadi varga

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Moschidae
Genus: Moschus
Species: Moschus moschiferus

Author: Dr.B.K.Prashanth M.D (Ayu), Ph.D
E mail: drprashanthbk@gmail.com
Click to consult Dr Prashanth BK

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Easy Ayurveda Video Classes

Buy Online Video Courses

Buy Easy Ayurveda Books