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
Water Phlegm cold and
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
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
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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