From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Advertisement for Elixir d'Anvers

An elixir is a sweet liquid used for medical purposes, to be taken orally and intended to cure one's illness.[1] When used as a pharmaceutical preparation, an elixir contains at least one active ingredient designed to be taken orally.


Label from a bottle of Elixir Raspail, claiming its effectiveness against epidemic diseases

The word was introduced in late Middle English, through Latin from Arabic al-ʾiksīr (الإكسير), which in turn is the Arabization of Greek xērion (ξήριον) "powder for drying wounds" (from ξηρός xēros "dry").[1] For centuries elixir primarily meant an ingredient used in alchemy, either referring to a liquid which purportedly converts lead to gold, or a substance or liquid which is believed to cure all ills and give eternal life.


Non-medicated elixirs[edit]

These are used as solvents or vehicles for the preparation of medicated elixirs. Active ingredients are dissolved in a 15–⁠50% by volume solution of ethyl alcohol:

Medicated elixirs[edit]

These include:

East Asian vitamin drinks[edit]

Daily non-alcoholic non-caffeinated 'vitamin drinks' have been popular in East Asia since the 1950s, with Oronamin from Otsuka Pharmaceutical perhaps the market leader. Packaged in brown light-proof bottles, these drinks have the reputation of being enjoyed by old men and other health-conscious individuals. Counterparts exist in South Korea and China.

Western energy drinks typically have caffeine and are targeted at a younger demographic, with colorful labels and printed claims of increased athletic/daily performance.

Pseudomedicinal drinks[edit]

See patent medicine


Poster for Elixir Mondet, 1899

An elixir is a hydro-alcoholic solution of at least one active ingredient. The alcohol is mainly used to:

  • Solubilize the active ingredient(s) and some excipients
  • Retard the crystallization of sugar
  • Preserve the finished product
  • Provide a sharpness to the taste
  • Aid in masking the unpleasant taste of the active ingredient(s)
  • Enhance the flavor.

The lowest alcoholic quantity that will dissolve completely the active ingredient(s) and give a clear solution is generally chosen. High concentrations of alcohol give burning taste to the final product.

An elixir may also contain the following excipients:


Elixirs should only be stored in a tightly closed, light resistant container away from direct heat and sunlight.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Elixir" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 281–282.