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The Principles Behind Health And Illness

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the basic principles of early modern holistic medicine. Health is 'a state of complete physical, mental or social well-being and not the absence of disease or infirmity'. Galenic principles of the four humours - 'astrological physick'- that consisted of The Natures, Signs, Causes and Cures of all Diseases are discussed. The main physiological principles of humouralism are that all bodies contain a mixture of the four fluids or humors of blood, phlegm, yellow bile or choler and black bile or melancholy. The star and planet movement had the power to cause imbalances within living creatures, resulting in illness. Health was seen within a holistic framework which looked at the entire physical and social dimensions of each individual. God provided a range of organic and inorganic ingredients to be used medicinally, as well as endowing some individuals with the ability to treat poorly humans and animals.

Keywords: astrological physick; blood; choler; Galenic; health; humouralism; illness; melancholy; phlegm

10.1163/ej.9789004179950.i-175.13
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