Incorporations of many different ideas, products and approaches came to form the medical knowledge and practice of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century. Despite the vast variety of its sources, the fundamental knowledge system of medicine was more or less a unified one, based on the Humoral Theory, an ancient view of healing and health promoted by Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) and later expanded by Galen (A.D. 129-199). The humoral theory rested on the idea that disease was an integral part of the self, God, and nature (Curth, 2010) where the emphasis of the cause of illness was put on the individual and the individual’s internal disorder of the whole body, rather than on external agents of disease such as bacteria. (Blakemore & Jennett, 2001). The theory was also the first dismissal of disease having supernatural reasons or causes, and became the first theory to associate disease with physical causes. The theory’s “all embracing, and eminently coherent, explanation of the human body” (Rawcliffe, 1999, p.33) focused on a body’s four humors, or fluids, and how the ratio, or balance, of these fluids, unique to each individual, affected an individual’s health. Because each individual’s humoral balance was holistically connected with other phenomena—such as climate, diet, geographic location, sex, and age—what was healthy for one person might not be so for another. This essay will go on to further describe these different elements that make up the humoral theory and analyze the holistic understanding of the body that shaped the ideas of the humoral theory.
… … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …
The description of a human body according to the humoral theory was composed of a mix, or ratio, of four liquid humors: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm, with every mix unique to each human being. An individual’s health and well-being was thought to be constituted by the ratio of the four humors maintained by that…

History of Humoral Medicine