We are all alchemists, and everything we do is alchemy.
Alchemy is change, the transmutation of a potential into another potential. We eat food and turn it into the stuff of life, by breaking it down, refining the vital elements from it, and then combining them to form the complex proteins and energy stuffs that keep us ticking - solve et coagula in action. The water of the world is constantly distilled into rain, absorbed by the earth and all that lives on it, and transmuted into life. We meet a person, give something to them and take something from them, break that down into the important elements, make it a part of our experience, and are forever changed - later on we reflect, distill further, and transmute experience into wisdom. Alchemy is all around us.
So, yes, what you suspect is correct. In a sense...
Now personally I had practiced 'spritual alchemy' according to several somewhat newage doctrines for a few years, and while my meditation improved, I saw few other purported improvements, those which had been promised after a year of practice, two years, etc. Then I stumbled blindly upon a few good texts regarding the 'true nature' of alchemy and the place of the actual practice itself in the psychic and ultimately spiritual transformations at the core. I have come to believe that the case may be that the advent of this new age alchemy that is purely spiritual may be a misinterpretation of what must certainly be true of alchemy - that the real transformation, the important transmutation work that is being done, is really on the subtle level of the practitioner, and that the physical practice only facilitates that. That alchemy is distinct from herbalism, etc., in that while the process transmutes us, we transmute the processes, vivifying them such that they produce 'miraculous' substances, purified and exalted beyond their gross contexts. As we do these physical transmutations, associating them with the mental and spiritual transmutations they represent in the elements, the planetary and zodiacal energies, even the hebrew letters, and ultimately all archetypal concepts, those same changes take place within us. When we work with the herbs of saturn, we are not just transmuting the gross physical herb itself into the elixir or stone; we are transmuting that raw form of this planetary energy within us, exalting and purifying that part of ourselves, and in turn doing the same for our alchemical work. We become connected to that work by faith, inspiration, and perhaps also love of the work itself.
Alchemy is often called the One True Science, and this may well be - it is after all concerned wholly with transmutation of one thing into another, the breaking down and purifying of something, and the reconstituting of that something into it's perfected state. ALmost everything else, every other science, every other tradition of magic, centers so much around the same premise, that one may wonder if there is indeed any other path at all...
The world is complicated - that which makes it up is elegantly simplistic, but infinitely versatile.