English Name: musk, navel gland secretions of the musk deer
Pharmaceutical Name: Moschus
Medica Category: Orifice-Opening Herbs
Properties: She Xiang enters the Heart, Liver, and Spleen channels; it is acrid in nature and warm in temperature.
The Chinese Herb She Xiang is the oily, aromatic substance (i.e. musk) secreted from the navel gland of three different species of musk deer: the dwarf musk deer (Moschus berezovskii Flerov), a native of south and central China; the alpine musk deer (Moschus sifanicus Przewalski), native to the Himalayas and highlands of Tibet; and the Siberian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus L.), native to taiga regions of Siberia, Mongolia, Manchuria, and Korea.
The musk is contained in the caudal gland of the male musk deer; the deer is killed, the gland removed from the animal, and the musk stored in an airtight and lightproof container. It is eventually made into pills or powder for use as medicine.
She Xiang is extremely aromatic and is used to open the orifices and awaken the shen when consciousness is impaired by bi zheng (“closed disorder”). In this action, it is used in the practice of TCM to address loss of consciousness, epilepsy, seizures, stroke, and convulsions (not an exhaustive list).
She Xiang invigorates blood circulation and opens the channels and collaterals and is used topically to dissipate clumps/palpable masses and reduce swelling of carbuncles, sores, and other swellings that have yet to form open lesions on the skin. It is also added to formula to address amenorrhea caused by blood stagnation.
She Xiang is used (both internally and topically) in trauma wards in hospitals in China to reduce swelling and pain in traumatic/sports injuries. It also helps to regenerate damages tissues/ligature and broken bones in this context.
She Xiang is used to induce labor in stillbirth—not in viable pregnancies, though, as its strong, penetrating properties may injure the fetus.
Contraindicated during pregnancy (both internal and topical use).
Dosage levels 60 – 100 mg given as pills or powder with a maximum dosage of 1000 mg.
Use with caution in deficient patients (especially yin deficiency).
According to TCM theory (and knowledge gained from practical experience), a few things need to be said generally about the use of orifice-opening herbs in situations of loss-of-consciousness:
All of this is to say that discussion of this substance’s use in restoring consciousness is intended to be educational. Their practical use is complex/nuanced; furthermore, the situations for the use of these herbs are often serious and/or life-threatening and should therefore be left to trained TCM healthcare practitioners. See Chen and Chen, pp. 815-7 for a more complete discussion on this topic.