An elixir is a drink that is capable of giving immortality to a human being. It is also known as a medicine for eternal youth. Elixir has a deep association with the religious believes of many countries, including China, India, and Europe. There are many myths associated with this divine drink.
One early belief pointed out elixir as one of the five essential elements of nature. The four elements - fire, water, air, and earth - were known at that time. Some ancients assumed that the elixir might be the fifth element.
Alchemists pursued the elixir in an attempt to trace its source or composition.
Chinese emperors made relentless attempts to unearth the secret behind the elixir. Liquefied gold was considered to be one of the components of elixir as it was the most stable metal found in the earth and it had the power to cure disease and add long life to the individual. Another mixture that was mentioned in one of the popular Chinese alchemical book named 'Great Secrets of Alchemy' consisted of mercury, sulfur and salts of mercury and arsenic. However, there were great concerns over this mixture as mercury and arsenic are highly poisonous.
The term 'elixir' was mentioned in Vedas, the famous Hindu sacred scripts. A myth prevails in Hindu mythology about a fight between Devas and Asuras over the extraction of the elixir (Amrit) from the river of immortality. Devas ultimately succeeded in extracting the elixir and thus attained immortality.
In modern times, elixir is used to refer to a powerful medicine or health tonic.