Many discoveries led by alchemists are still being used today. A medieval alchemist would sometimes spend many years trying to discover new components. For alchemists, everything was composed of four elements - fire, water, air and earth; exactly what Empedocles said centuries before.
An alchemist would mostly look for elixirs and components to prevent diseases and sometimes to extend life. Medicines were mostly discovered after the Dark Plague which swept 40% of the European population - even the church encouraged alchemists to find a cure for such terrible disease.
Alchemists also sought the way to turn a metal into another - hence our cliche of alchemists looking to turn a simple stone into gold. This obviously never happened, but in the way alchemists left us with many discoveries which improved the alchemy that is being used even today.
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