The Search for Immortality
The elixir of life, a mythical substance from ancient Chinese literature, underpins an enormous industry in modern China.
The dietary supplement market in China is huge. In 2020 nearly 890,000 new enterprises were established, the largest annual increase yet. China has become the world’s second largest consumer of dietary supplement products after the United States and is a major importer of supplements: 12.8 per cent of the dietary supplement products produced in the US are exported to China.
Modern dietary supplements are the latest iteration of the ancient and longstanding tradition of the elixir of life, which, unlike medicine taken to cure ills, is taken in the belief that it can strengthen health, or even grant immortality.