In mythology, a potion is a concoction used to heal, bewitch or poison people, made by a magician, sorcerer or witch. E.g. Love potions make a person fall in love with another (The love potion figures tragically into most versions of the tale of Tristan and Iseult, including Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde); sleeping potions cause a person to fall asleep (in folklore, this can range from normal sleep to a deathlike trance); and Elixirs are potions which heal/cure any wound/malady (as in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe).
Creation of potions of different kinds was a common practice of alchemy.
During the 19th Century it was common in certain countries to see wandering charlatans offering potions to heal every disease, ache, etc. These eventually gained reputations as quack medicines. In later years, these became replaced by/known as patent medicines.
Potions have been used in literature many times. For example in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Henry Jekyll uses a potion to transform into the monstrous Hyde.
In modern fantasy, potions are often used as spells in liquid form. Commonly fantasy uses for potions are healing, amnesia, transformation, love spells, invisibility, and invulnerability. In the Asterix series, the Magic Potion gives the drinker superhuman strength. In Piers Anthony's Apprentice Adept series, the Yellow Adept's power lies in her ability to make potions. In the Harry Potter book series, Severus Snape is known as the "Potions Master". He is one of the main characters of the novel. Portrayed as an antagonist that is more than meets the eye, potions class is shown as a magical chemistry class. Potions have been known as evil and are used classically by witches gathering around a boiling cauldron ex. Macbeth.
Potions have also gained popularity as a standard item in computer role playing games, usually as a healing item. The availability of healing potions in the popular Final Fantasy series of games, where one of them usually recovers hit-points (often with several different names for varying potions), eventually resulted in the release of an actual beverage named "Potion" in Japan by Square Enix, the creators of Final Fantasy.
A philter or philtre (from Ancient Greek φίλτρον meaning "love-potion") is a fabled potion credited with magical power. It often refers specifically to a love-philter or love-potion, and sometimes a love-powder. It is a magical potion, drug or charm that supposedly has the power to excite sexual passion especially toward a particular person, notably the one who gave it to the imbiber.