Humorism Essay - For Hippocrates and other physicians of...

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For Hippocrates and other physicians of the ancient Greek world, human health depended on a relationship between man and his surroundings. In particular, they concentrated on the relationship between nature and the internal balance of the human body. The Hippocratic theories regarding the relationship between disease and the environment were outlined in Airs, Waters, Places and this work, which combined the theories of humorism with medicine, shaped the medical world for centuries. The humoral perspective of medicine is no longer the dominant philosophy, but it had a tremendous effect on the ancient world for many years. Humorism and the Four Temperaments Many classical systems of medicine used a concept of four key elements as the basis of human health. The medical perspective of the Hippocratic students was built on this idea, which was called humorism. (Marketos #8) Humorism theorized that the body was filled with four basic substances that represented different seasons, elements and organs. The fluids would fluctuate and react to a number of influences like dietary behavior and weather. According to the ancient Greek physicians, an imbalance of the humors would cause various diseases. To prevent this, the excess materials had to be removed and balance restored among the humors through a variety of methods, which will be detailed later. (Klepp 54-58) Even though the fundamental beliefs of humorism predate the Hippocratic writers and other classical systems of medicine used a similar concept, they helped establish it as the most commonly held view of medicine for over 2000 years. The four humors were phlegm (water), gall (black bile thought to be secreted by the kidneys and spleen), choler (yellow bile secreted by the liver) and blood. Each humor had distinct qualities, characteristics and effects on the Dembek 1
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human body (See Figure 1). Phlegm was associated with winter and the element of water. It was cold and moist, and phlegmatic persons were considered to be calm, shy and unemotional. Black bile was associated with moist warmth, the earth, autumn and melancholic personality (In Greek μελας, melas, means “black" and χολη, kholé, means "bile"). Yellow bile was associated with the summer season, which is dry and hot. This temperament is classified as choleric , distinguished Figure 1 by fiery passion, leadership and a short temper. Sanguine persons are associated with blood, air and the wet, hot season of spring. A person who is sanguine is cocky, arrogant and prone to impulses. (Clayman 159-160) There were numerous techniques used to correct the balance of the humors, such as herbal treatments, enemas or headpurges (sneezes induced by pepper and other drugs). According to Gary Lindquester's
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Humorism Essay - For Hippocrates and other physicians of...

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