An elixir is a sweet liquid used for medical purposes, to be taken orally and intended to cure one's illness. When used as a pharmaceutical preparation, an elixir contains at least one active ingredient designed to be taken orally.
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").
- antihistaminic elixirs used against allergy, such as chlorpheniramine maleate (USP) or diphenhydramine HCl
- sedative and hypnotic elixirs, the former to induce drowsiness, the latter to induce sleep
- pediatric elixirs such as chloral hydrate
- expectorant elixirs used to facilitate productive cough (i.e. cough with sputum), such as terpin hydrate
East Asian vitamin drinks
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.
- 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:
- Sugar and/or sugar substitutes like the sugar polyols glycerol and sorbitol.
- Preservatives like parabens and benzoates and antioxidants like butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and sodium metabisulfite.
- Buffering agents
- Chelating agents like sodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)
- Flavoring agents and flavor enhancers
- Coloring agents
Elixirs should be stored in a tightly closed, light resistant container away from direct heat and sunlight.
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- Elixir of life
- Internal alchemy
- Energy drink
- Soft drink
- Panacea (medicine), mythological remedy that would cure all diseases
- Suspension (chemistry)
- Herbal tea
- Tincture, in which alcohol is the major solvent and the ingredient is often highly concentrated.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 281–282. .