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the ancient Greek theory of the four body humors (blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm) that determined health and disease. The humors were associated with the four elements (air, fire, earth, and water), which in turn were paired with one of the qualities (hot, cold, dry, and moist). A proper and evenly balanced mixture of the humors characterized health of body and mind; an imperfect balance resulted in disease. Temperament of body or mind also was supposed to be determined, for example, sanguine (blood), choleric (yellow bile), melancholic (black bile), or phlegmatic (phlegm).
humoral doctrineMedical history
The medical philosophy of the ancient Greeks in which the state of health and disease was determined by the four body “humours”—blood, yellow and black bile, and phlegm—and their relationships with the four elemental humours—air, fire, earth and water.
hu·mor·al doc·trine(hyūmŏr-ăl doktrin)
Ancient Greek theory of four body humors (blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm) that determined health and disease.