Chinese alchemy is a part of the larger tradition of Taoism. It centers on a tradition of body-spirit cultivation that developed through the understanding of medicine and the body in China. Various Chinese traditions were developed into a system of energy practices, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and alchemy, both internal and external.
Chinese alchemy focuses mainly on the purification of one’s spirit and body in the hopes of gaining immortality through the combined practice of Chi Kung and the consumption of various alchemical preparations and elixirs.
Alchemical medicines were valued for two main reasons. First, they granted transcendence and immortality, and secondly they made it possible to summon benevolent spirits and to expel demons. Alchemical practice was often divided into Waidan or ‘external alchemy’ – the use of substances to extend life and bring powers, and Neidan or ‘internal alchemy’ – which focused on energy cultivation through Chi Kung and Taichi.