Castoreum is the name given to the exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American Beaver "Castor canadensis" and the European Beaver, "Castor fiber". Within the zoological realm, castoreum is the yellowish secretion of the castor sac in combination with the beaver's urine, used during scent marking of territory. [Walro, J.M. and Svendsen, G.E., "Castor sacs and anal glands of the north american beaver (Castor canadensis): their histology, development, and relationship to scent communication" "Journal of Chemical Ecology", Volume 8, Number 5 / May, 1982, Department of Zoology and Microbiology, Ohio University, ] Both male and female beavers possess a pair of castor sacs and a pair of anal glands located in two cavities under the skin between the pelvis and the base of the tail. The castor sacs are not true glands (endocrine or exocrine) on a cellular level, hence references to these structures as preputial glands or castor glands are misnomers. [Svendsen, G.E., Huntsman, W.D, "A field Assay of Beaver Castoreum and Some of its Components," "American Midland Naturalist", Vol. 120, No. 1 (Jul., 1988), pp. 144-149, University of Notre Dame. ]

Today, it is used in trapping, as a tincture in some perfumes [International Perfume Museum, Grasse France, Website: ] , or touted as an aphrodisiac.

Castoreum in Perfume

In perfume-making, the term castoreum is more liberally applied to denote the resinoid extract resulting from the dried and alcohol tinctured beaver castor ( [, "Castoreum, Perfumer's Ancient Intrique,"] The dried beaver castor sacs are generally aged for two or more years to mellow and for their raw harshness to dissipate. In perfumery, castoreum has largely been used as an animalic note suggesting leather, compounded with other ingredients including top, middle, and base notes as a composition. Some classic perfumes incorporating castor are Emeraude, Coty Chanel Cuir de Russie, Magie Noire, Lancôme Caractère, Hechter Madame, Carven, Givenchy III, Shalimar, and many "leather" themed compositions [International Perfume Museum, Grasse France, Website: ] . Twenty four compounds known to be constituents of beaver castoreum were individually screened for pheremonal activity. These are the phenols 4-ethylphenol and 1,2-dihydroxybenzene and the ketones acetophenone and 3-hydroxyacetophenone. Five additional compounds noted are 4-methyl-1,2-dihydroxybenzene, 4-methoxyacetophenone, 5-methoxysalicylic acid, salicylaldehyde, and 3-hydroxybenzoic acid. [Müller-Schwarze, D and Houlihan, P.W., "Pheromonal activity of single castoreum constituents in beaver,Castor canadensis" "Journal of Chemical Ecology", Volume 17, Number 4 / April, 1991 Springer Netherlands]

Medicinal Use of Castoreum

Although modern medical use of castoreum is rare, the dried pair of scent glands (the "castors") may still be worth more than a beaver pelt itself. [ [ "Beaver casoreum"] (pdf file)] Castoreum appeared in the "materia medica" until the 1700s, used to treat many different ailments, including headache, fever, and hysteria. [Compare Boericke, "Materia Medica".] The Romans believed the fumes produced by burning castoreum could induce an abortion; Paracelsus thought it could be used in the treatment of epilepsy [ [ Compare "mummy"] ] ; and medieval beekeepers used it to increase honey production.

Castoreum, an anal gland secretion, [Johnston, Robert E.; Sorenson, Peter W.; and Müller-Schwarze, Dietland (1999). "Advances in Chemical Signals in Vertebrates", Springer, 1, 282. ISBN 0-306-46114-5.] appears to be used by beavers to mark their territory. [Müller-Schwarze, Dietland (1992). "Castoreum of beaver (Castor canadensis): function, chemistry and biological activity of its components," "Chemical Signals in Vertebrates IV", 457–464, Plenum Press.]

Castoreum is also used in small amounts to contribute to the flavor and odor of cigarettes. [ [ "What's Inside: For a Refreshing Hint of Tear Gas, Light Up a Cigarette"] ]


External links

* [ The International Perfume Museum: Castoreum]
* []

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Castoreum — Castoréum Le castoréum est une sécrétion grasse très odorante produite par des glandes sexuelles du castor situées en dessous de la queue, à proximité de l anus. Il a deux fonctions : il permet au castor de délimiter son territoire et d… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • castoréum — [ kastɔreɔm ] n. m. • XIIIe; lat. médiév. castoreum; de castor ♦ Didact. Substance huileuse, à odeur forte, obtenue à partir des glandes sexuelles du castor, utilisée comme fixateur en parfumerie et comme remède antispasmodique. ● castoréum nom… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • castoreum — CASTORÉUM s. n. secreţie odorantă a castorului, folosit în farmacie şi cosmetică. (< fr. castoréum, lat. castoreum) Trimis de raduborza, 15.09.2007. Sursa: MDN …   Dicționar Român

  • Castoreum — Cas*to re*um, n. [L. See {Castor}.] A peculiar bitter orange brown substance, with strong, penetrating odor, found in two sacs between the anus and external genitals of the beaver; castor; used in medicine as an antispasmodic, and by perfumers.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Castorĕum — Castorĕum, so v.w. Bibergeil; Castorresinoīd s. ebd …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Castorĕum — Castorĕum, soviel wie Bibergeil …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • castoréum — CASTORÉUM. s. m. Matière tirée du Castor, propre à fortifier la tête, les parties nerveuses, etc …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • Castoréum — Le castoréum est une sécrétion huileuse très odorante produite par des glandes sexuelles du castor situées en dessous de la queue, à proximité de l anus. Il a deux fonctions : il permet au castor de délimiter son territoire et d… …   Wikipédia en Français

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