An elixir (via Arabic term of "Al Iksir" itself from Greek "xḗrion") is a clear, sweet-flavored liquid used for medicinal purposes, to be taken orally and intended to cure one's ills. When used as a pharmaceutical preparation, an elixir contains at least one active ingredient designed to be taken orally.



Non-medicated elixirs

They are used as solvents or vehicles for the preparation of medicated elixirs: aromatic elixirs (USP), isoalcoholic elixirs (NF), or compound benzaldehyde elixirs (NF). Active ingredient dissolved in a solution that contains 15 to 50% by volume of ethyl alcohol.

Medicated elixirs

  • Antihistaminic elixirs: used against allergy: chlorampheniramine maleate elixirs (USP), diphenhydramine HCl elixirs.
  • Sedative and hypnotic elixirs: sedatives induce drowsiness, and hypnotics induce sleep: pediatric chloral hydrate elixirs.
  • Expectorant: used to facilitate productive cough (cough with sputum): terpin hydrate elixirs.
  • Miscellaneous: acetaminophen (paracetamol) elixirs, which are used as analgesics.

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:

  • 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 and 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 (chemistry)
  • Syrup
  • Herbal tea
  • Tincture, in which alcohol is the major solvent and the ingredient is often highly concentrated.
  • List of topics characterized as pseudoscience


  1. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=elixir
  2. ^ http://www.wordnik.com/words/elixir

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