For Science!
5 Obsolete Theories That Scientists Once Widely Accepted

CJ Miozzi | 2 Jul 2014 19:00
For Science! - RSS 2.0

3. Humorism

No, this isn't some theory of comedy. Humorism was a system of medicine that held that human health was controlled by the balance of four bodily fluids known as the "four humors" - blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. Ancient Greek and Roman physicians thought that having too much or too little of any of these fluids would negatively influence your well-being, and this theory was widely accepted in Western medicine until the nineteenth century - a span of over 2,000 years.

Remember the "medical" practice of bloodletting through cutting or the application of leeches? That was due to a belief that the body had too much blood relative to the other humors. If you were believed to have too much phlegm, your treatment was much more enjoyable: you may be served wine, a food associated with yellow bile, which counterbalances phlegm.

The theory of the four humors is closely associated with the classical elements, and in fact, each humor has an associated element: blood/air, phlegm/water, black bile/earth, and yellow bile/fire. This internal consistency no doubt lent the theory greater credibility.

Comments on