earlymodernrecipes

exploring recipe books from the seventeenth-century

6 non-naturals & 4 humors

The non-naturals and humours are key to understanding medieval and early modern attitudes to diet and health so here’s a quick explanation:

The six non-naturals were categories in Ancient Greek medicine which you had to keep in balance in order to be healthy. They included: air; motion and rest (exercise); sleeping and waking; food and drink; excretion and passions/ emotions. An imbalance in any of these- too much/little exercise, too much/little sleep, too much/little  etc. was thought to cause illness. Balance for health certainly isn’t a modern concept!

(If you want more information on this L H Curth has written a good article found here:http://bmj-mh.highwire.org/content/29/1/16.abstract).

The four humours were the basis of Medieval medicine and this continued into the Early modern period. They were: blood, diagram of the four humoursyellow bile, black bile and phlegm. Each of these humours equated to qualities: blood= hot & wet, yellow bile= hot & dry, black bile = dry & cold, phlegm= cold& wet. These in turn related to the four temperaments: sanguine, choleric, melancholic and phlegmatic.

Foods were also thought to have hot/cold/dry/wet qualities and so diet had to be balanced to ensure that the body wasn’t taking in too much of one humour.

Imbalance led to illness, including melancholy…

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Recipes Project

exploring recipe books from the seventeenth-century

Early Modern Medicine

A blog about bodies and medicine c.1500 - 1780

Wellcome Collection Blog

The blog for the incurably curious

Wellcome Trust Blog

Life from a Wellcome Trust perspective

Eighteenth-century recipes

Remedies, recipes and domestic life

Bethlem Blog

Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum

Everything Early Modern Women

All things to do with the study of early modern women.

%d bloggers like this: