The Elixir of Life is a mythical substance, found across cultures, that gives those who consume it immortality. In the Taoist Waidan branch of alchemy, the main ingredients were highly toxic: lead and mercury. Some emperors took the risk & paid with their life.

A better choice for an emperor trying to extend their life, would have been the “internal elixir of life” from Neidan branch of Taoist alchemy. The ingredients of this elixir included meditation, breathing, diet, and exercise. Image: Wellcome Library