Food & Drink,  Mind / Body

The Elixir of Life?


The ultimate quest or Opus Magnum of the alchemist is the Lapis Philosophorum, more commonly known as the Philosopher’s Stone. With it she could transmute base metals into noble gold and even more importantly, mortality into immortality. Its recipe is the greatest secret of the Royal Art. Far more often than not, however, its pursuit shortened, rather than lengthened, the seeker’s life.

In fact, poisonings, explosions and other misadventures were commonplace. But as long as man and woman have lived—and more importantly—died, the potential gains outweighed the dangers of failure. As far back as Gilgamesh we have accounts of people seeking to unlimit their existence. Frankly, who wouldn’t care for a taste of unlimited youth?


Two notable figures—or legends, if you prefer—reputed to have achieved the Opus Magnum were Nicolas Flamel (September 28, 1330-1418) and later, the Compte de St. Germain (1712 to ?) an extremely shadowy man, who may be a composite of many agents or a singular man of great note, depending on whom you believe. It is interesting that the most famous of seducers, Giacomo Casanova, wrote an account of him, which sums him up as something of a charlatan, but one for whom he nevertheless possessed no small degree of awe. Some claim that he still walks the earth today.

If so, should you be out there and happen to read this, my lord, I’m interested to do an interview.

Flamel and wife Perenelle were said to have gained their knowledge of the Stone and the elixir from an old Hebrew document he purchased. With the help of some converso Hebrew scholars in Spain, Flamel discovered  how to compose the Elixir of Life, and then he and his wife put their newly gained health and wealth to work performing philanthropic acts.

Like the Flamels, Saint Germain was said to have worked for the benefit of mankind as a regular visitor and voice throughout the courts of Europe. Whatever the case, there’s something satisfying about the notion of these characters, and groups like the Rosicrucians, working in the shadows or behind the scenes to spread charity, not malice, and taking no credit for it.

This past weekend I was thinking a lot about elixirs and panaceas as first my daughter and then my wife were debilitated by influenza. And despite my lack of ancient Hebrew manuscripts and limited alchemical repertoire I’d like to offer up my own far less potent, but still worthwhile, elixir.

Now I’m not a doctor, and I’m certainly no Saint Germain, and so don’t want to tempt fate, or “court” disaster here, but the minute I feel a sore throat, flu or any kind of debilitating ailment approach, I call upon the four elements — Earth, Water, Air and Fire — and create my non-patented Winter Green Tea Elixir. I often serve it to guests after dinner, where it earns me praise every time.


You only need four ingredients: good quality green tea (preferably organic loose leaf), fresh ginger root, lemon, and spring water.

First boil the spring water and take about an index finger’s worth of peeled and finely sliced ginger and let it steep in the boiling water in the teapot for a few minutes. Don’t add the tea immediately as good green tea shouldn’t be boiled. Rather you want the water somewhere between 70-80 degrees celsius. Usually after about two to three minutes, the ginger-infused water will be the right temperature for your tea leaves. The ginger-steeped water allows you to let the green tea infuse a bit longer without the taste getting bitter, but maybe that’s me —purists will say no more than three minutes is acceptable.  Pour the ginger green tea into a glass and add a slice of noble citrus.

I’ve read that ingredients like lemon and ginger help alkalize (or perhaps alchemize?) the green tea, which means more of its special antioxidant/catechin EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) is absorbed by the digestive tract, which should at least make you temporarily immortal. In all seriousness though, do keep in mind that ginger is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, so please be careful not to consume it in large quantities if you’re taking any anti-inflammatory medicines. In fact, consult with your doctor if you have any medical conditions or are taking any medications before making the winter green elixir.


Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s a case of wishful thinking and/or placebo effect, but I think I’m healthier for my elixir. Even if it’s not doing anything, its soothing taste alone lifts my spirits. And spirit is the fifth and most potent element of them all.

If you have a potent natural flu remedy—or better still—have discovered the Philosopher’s Stone, please share it with me at: