HERB - Humoral Theory

Christine A Seelye-King mermayde at juno.com
Wed Jan 27 21:42:02 PST 1999

This is from a site called the Compendium of Common Knowledge, for
historical (specifically Elizabethan) re-enactors.  I thought it did a
good job of explaining the Humoral Theory. 


                   Science and Health 
                   (without key to the scriptures) 

                   Everything in the world is composed of four elements:
                       Earth, Air, Fire and Water 

                   In the human body, the humours are the natural bodily
		fluids. They correspond to the elements and have various
		qualities: cold, dry, hot, and moist. 

                   The nature or complexion of anything is a combination
of 		two of these humourous qualities. 

                   Here is a simple chart of the relationships of the
humours 	and elements.
                   Most people are aware of this chart to some degree.
		(Hypochondriacs  have it memorized.) 
 Element 		Humour 		Quality
 Fire 		Choler (yellow bile)  hot and dry     Choleric
 Air		Blood 		hot and           Sanguine
(jolly, 				moist		       
 Water		Phlegm	               cold and 	     
  Phlegmatic 					moist              
(sluggish, slow)
 Earth 		Melancholy 		        Melancholic
		(black bile) 	cold and dry     (sad,  lovesick)

                   When the humours are all in balance in a person, he or
she 	is completely healthy. If they get out of balance, illness

                   Doctors bleed their patients to restore this balance,
		because blood is considered to have pre-eminence over the
	other humours. 

                   Bleeding is performed with a lancet and a bowl, not
with 	leeches (ick).
 	In fact, leeching is a separate type of operation. 

                   Blood is usually drawn from the arm or the foot. 

                   Someone with a natural abundance of choler is said to
be 	choleric, or, naturally angry and quick-tempered. (Does that
	mean you could call them 'pissy'?) 

                   Black bile is considered to be the foam off the top of
the 	blood.
                   Whatever that is. 

                   Andrew Boorde's Breviary of Health is a popular text
		around many households for advice on staying healthy. 

                   The liver, not the heart, is considered the source of
the 		emotions, although the heart is the source of love. 

                   The stomach is the seat of courage. 

                   The spleen is the source of anger. 

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