Treating Illnesses

The approach to illnesses and how to treat them was very different during the Medieval era than it is today. Like mentioned in the introduction, medieval era physicians believed the body to be composed of four parts, which they called humors: sanguine (blood), choler, phlegm and melancholia. They would treat illness based upon the balance of these four humors. Each of the components is associated with qualities of heat and moistness. Sanguine was determined to be hot and moist, choler was similar as it is hot and dry, phlegm, cold and moist, melancholy, the opposite of sanguine, cold and dry. Based on these qualities physicians treat the illnesses, either giving more or less depending on the patients’ symptoms. The cures included herbal remedies to either feed or starve a characteristic, or by bloodletting or prescribing laxatives. Physicians also created what is called “The Doctrine of Signatures” which says that the color of plants has a direct effect on the corresponding organ in the body when consumed. Much of these practices were only available to the wealthy but also the lower class was able to often receive aid, simply not as readily.

Again, thanks for reading and I hope you find the blog interesting and intriguing!


1. Picture one. Digital Public Library of America.

2. Picture two. Oxford University Digital Image Library.

3. Stewart, John. “Lesson 13- The Middle Ages.” Desire 2 Learn. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <;.

4. “Medieval Medicine.” Medieval Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <;.


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