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In Chinese alchemy, elixir poisoning refers to the toxic effects from elixirs of immortality that contained metals and minerals such as mercury and arsenic. The official Twenty-Four Histories record numerous Chinese emperors, nobles, and officials who died from taking elixirs in order to prolong their lifespans. The first emperor to die from elixir poisoning was likely Qin Shi Huang (d. 210 BCE) and the last was Yongzheng (d. 1735). Despite common knowledge that immortality potions could be deadly, fangshi and Daoist alchemists continued the elixir-making practice for two millennia.

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  • Chinese alchemical elixir poisoning
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  • In Chinese alchemy, elixir poisoning refers to the toxic effects from elixirs of immortality that contained metals and minerals such as mercury and arsenic. The official Twenty-Four Histories record numerous Chinese emperors, nobles, and officials who died from taking elixirs in order to prolong their lifespans. The first emperor to die from elixir poisoning was likely Qin Shi Huang (d. 210 BCE) and the last was Yongzheng (d. 1735). Despite common knowledge that immortality potions could be deadly, fangshi and Daoist alchemists continued the elixir-making practice for two millennia.
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