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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Humors

DEFINITIONS

Humors:

A now-abandoned concept created by the ancient Greeks and later Roman physicians that described the make up and function of humans. The humors are:

Name  Qualities Element
Black Bile Cold & Dry Earth
Yellow Bile Hot & Dry Fire
Blood Hot & Wet Air
Phlegm Wet & Cold Water

It was believed that the quantities of these substances could increase and decrease depending upon activity and diet. A lack of balance—an excess or shortage of one of these substance—resulted in disease.  Clearly this is related to the later Western alchemical philosophy that all matter is composed of four elements.




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