HERB - Humoral Theory

Kathleen Keeler kkeeler at unlinfo.unl.edu
Thu Jan 28 07:18:21 PST 1999

Christine A Seelye-King wrote:

> 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.
>         Christianna
> http://www.renaissance.dm.net/compendium/31.html
>                    Science and Health
>                    (without key to the scriptures)

Christiana, what do you think "without key to the scriptures" means?

>                    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.

Note that the humours are made of two elements (choler is hot dry, or blood hot

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

so I don't think this is accurately stated.

>                    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.)

what I think hypochondriacs have memorized is the zodiac. Since the planets are

like everything else composed of the 4 elements, the planetary arrangement at
your birth
tells a lot about what your tendencies are at a much finer scale. Likewise, the
8th house is
health and what is in your 8th house helps the physician distinguish between
hot wet fevers
and hot dry fevers.
And usually cures were Doctrine of Opposites:  treat cold dry fevers with
physical treatments or
herbs that are hot wet.  Better still, if its Mars in your 8th house treat with
under Venus, or a Fire sign of the zodiac with a plant under a water sign,
especially exact opposites across the chart. Box, governed by Mars, and mint,
governed by  Venus, are both used for fevers, but very different ones.

>  Element                Humour          Quality
>                 Nature
>  Fire           Choler (yellow bile)  hot and dry     Choleric
> (angry,
>    temperamental)
>  Air            Blood           hot and           Sanguine
> (jolly,                                 moist
> lusty)
>  Water          Phlegm                 cold and
>   Phlegmatic                                    moist
> (sluggish, slow)
>  Earth          Melancholy                      Melancholic
>                 (black bile)    cold and dry     (sad,  lovesick)

I have wondered how the learned physician cast the horoscope of people who
didn't know their
hour of birth.  And while there are Period manuals for estimating, no doubt it
was one of the
mechanisms for maintaining class divisions, since upperclass people would note
the hour of a child's birth.

kkeeler1 at unl.edu

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