Sunday, February 20, 2011


An elixir is a clear, sweet-flavored liquid (usually containing alcohol) used in compounding medicines to be taken orally in order to mask an unpleasant taste and intended to cure one's ills.
When used as a pharmaceutical preparation, it contains at least one active ingredient dissolved in a solution that contains 15 to 50% by volume of ethyl alcohol and it is designed to be taken orally.

Types of Elixirs:

1. Non-medicated elixirs:
It is used as a solvent or vehicle for the preparation of medicated elixirs: aromatic elixirs (USP), isoalcholic elixirs (NF) or compound benaldehyde elixirs (NF).
2. 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 analgesic.
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 certain 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 bezoates 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.
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