From HandWiki

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.


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]


Non-medicated elixirs

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:

  • aromatic elixirs (USP)
  • isoalcoholic elixirs (NF)
  • compound benzaldehyde elixirs (NF)

Medicated elixirs

These include:

  • 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.


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

See also

  • Concoction
  • Elixir of life
  • Internal alchemy
  • Energy drink
  • Soft drink
  • Panacea (medicine), mythological remedy that would cure all diseases
  • Suspension
  • Syrup
  • Spagyric
  • Herbal tea
  • Tincture, in which alcohol is the major solvent and the ingredient is often highly concentrated.
  • Theriac


  1. 1.0 1.1 Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Elixir". Encyclopædia Britannica. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 281–282.