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Healths Improvement

Medicinal Manuals

The large number of health manuals published for home use by 1675 suggests the complex relationship that was perceived to exist between foods and medicine. The humoral theory, based on the writings of Hippocrates (c. 460-377 BC), was used throughout the seventeenth century and later to explain and to treat illness. In each person's character, one of four humors was believed to dominate: Bile, Blood, Choler, or Melancholy. Just as individuals were characterized by one temperament, so too were individual meats, spices, wines, and other foods. Illness, therefore, resulted from unbalanced humors, and home remedies used garden herbs, vegetables, and spices to restore balance. Diet, according to Thomas Moffett, ought to be an orderly course of nourishment "for the preservation recovery or continuance of the health of mankind."

Thomas Moffett. Healths improvement. London, 1655.

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