Cookery and the Application of Humoural Theory



Channon Mondoux

known in the Society as

Hauviette d’Anjou





The first section of this article was written to be presented in persona. The Lady Hauviette d’Anjou, is the daughter of a Royal Cook, as such she is teaching fellow artisans the application of Humoural Theory.


The Poem Thirty Days Hath November;

Sluggy and slowe, in spetinge muiche,
Cold and moist, my natur is suche;
Dull of wit, and fat, of contenaunce strange,
Fleumatike, this complecion may not change.

Deliberal I am, loving and gladde,
Laghinge and playing, full seld I am sad;
Singing, full fair of colour, bold to fight,
Hote and moist, beninge, sanguine I hight.

I am sad and soleynge with heviness in thoght;
I covet right muiche, leve will I noght;
Fraudulent and suttill, full cold and dry,
Yollowe of colour, colorike am I.

       Envius, dissevabill, my skin is roghe;
       Outrage in exspence, hardy inoghe,
       Suttill and sklender, hote and dry,
       Of colour pale, my nam is malencoly.


To Begin,

The Art of Cookery,  is most beneficial to health when it is influenced  by the application of Humoural Theory. What is this theory? It began as the medical model for the explanation and treatment of the human body. We must  give consideration to the diet in health.


Galen (and Hippocrates before him), believed that food was assimilated into the body by absorption, by the part of the body most like the food being eaten.


Galen, postulates in his work “On the Natural Faculties”.


It has been made clear in the preceding discussion that nutrition occurs by an alteration or assimilation of that which nourishes to that which receives nourishment, and that there exists in every part of the animal a faculty which in view of its activity we call, in general terms alterative or more specifically assimilative and nutritive. It was also shown that a sufficient supply of the matter which the part being nourished makes into nutriment for itself is ensured by virtue of another faculty which naturally attracts its proper juice [humour] that juice is proper to each part which is adapted for assimilation, and that the faculty which attracts the juice is called by reason of its activity, attractive or epispastic.”[1]


The characteristics of a given food determine which part of the body will absorb or assimilate it.


Hippocrates believed that the world was composed of four basic elements: Air ( hot-moist), Earth (dry-cold), Fire (dry-hot), and Water (cold-moist). Each of these elements and its characteristics are associated with one of the seasons --Spring, Autumn, Summer and Winter. These 4 basic elements are expressed in man as “humours”  or liquids  that describe not only the physical make up, but psychological baseline for the individual. The humours of the body are blood- known as Sanguine, black bile- Melancholic, yellow bile- Choleric and phlegm-Phlegmatic. One humour is thought to predominate in each person, although all four are present at all times. 


The interaction of the human body and it’s base characteristics  with the intake of foods, living conditions, emotions and the committment of sins can result in the imbalance of the humours and is the cause of illness.


The treatment of illness, therefore, involves balancing those humours once again. This is achieved by the Chiurgeon (and Cook), by appropriately altering the diet of the afflicted person in order to counter act the illness’s characteristics.


Before getting further into the application of Humoural Theory, I would like to take a moment to talk about one of the most influential individuals in the European and Arabic worlds in these matters.


This person is none other than Abu ‘ Ali al-Husain ibn ‘Abd-Allah ibn Hasan ibn ‘ Ali ibn Sina, who through the transliteration of his name has become known to us as Avicenna. [2] Avicenna was born in August 980 in Kharmaithan and was known at an early age to be remarkable.[3]


Avicenna wrote numerous medical treatises, the most well known extant work  being al-Qanun (The Canon), a million word work which has served us as a medical bible for longer that any other work in history.[4] Avicenna is also known for his smaller work al-’Arjuzat fi’t-ibb (the Poem on Medicine).[5] It is from this latter work that I have extracted his philosophy and application of Humourical Theory. 


Why should we use “The Poem on Medicine”?


The al-’Arjuzat fi’t-ibb, is said to be an abridgment of the ideas presented within al-Qanun and according to Avenzoar, “the principle of science which the Poem contains make this work more valuable than a whole library of books” [6]


Avicenna’s Poem is studied extensively by many scholars, most notably being Ibn Rushd or Averroes, in the mid 12th century, followed by Ibn Tumulus, Ibn Muhammad in 1386, and no doubt many to come. These facts strongly support the significance of this work to the science of medicine and hence cookery.


Has Platina utilized the information in “The Poem” in his On Right Pleasure and Good Health? 


Although Platina does not credit Avicenna directly for use of his work, it is clear that he follows the rules of Humoural Theory. Did he learn these from other diverse sources? This may be so, but to ask Platina to admit plagerizing would be a difficult task indeed.[7]


al-’Arjuzat fi’t-ibb or The Poem on Medicine


In the words of Avincenna;


“Medicine is the preservation of health and the cure of disease which arises from the conscious causes which exist within the body”


Medicine, in Avicenna’s approach, is divided into theory and practice. Practice is then divided into actions: one performed with the hands, the other with medicine and dietary regimens. It is from this that we see how significant our work as cooks is to the health of those who dine at our tables. The application of that art is a major constituent of the physicians work.


“The elements are the constitutive factors of bodies.”


The body is made up of elements. They are the first natural component.


“The opinion of Hippocrates on the subject of the elements is accurate; there are four of them: water, fire, earth, air. The proof of the accuracy of this notion is that after death, the body returns to them through necessity.”


Ashes to ashes, dust to dust?


“Moreover, if it were composed of only a single element, one would not know how to observe any living being touched by illness”


“Second natural component- Temperaments

After that, perfect knowledge of the temperaments aids in the treatment of illness. The temperament has four aspects which the physician will separate or join together. It may be warm, cold, dry or moist, expressions perceptible by touch. These qualities are found in the elements, in the seasons, in the kingdoms and in places. The raw material is the primordial constitutive source of bodies. Warmth  is in fire and air, cold in earth and water, dryness between fire and earth, moisture between water and air. These qualities are also found in the elements which are of different natures and which make up bodies by their arrangements. These qualities are different  in that there will be only one and they group themselves without opposing each other. We have an idea of the temperament of someone because of this arrangement of elements and thus, we give him the classification of that which predomimates. The temperament is said to be balanced when it includes the four qualities. They exist in man according to certain proortions which serve as a pattern and model. Every man, in whom the  qualities are not in equilibrium and which lead him towards one extreme, is not void of the others because of that, but they do not exist in comparable proportion. He carries the classification of the dominant one: he is said to be of the temperament of fire, earth, water or air. Behold medical nomenclature! Thus I have given the nine temperaments and in that I make no innovations.”


The temperaments of the seasons


What I am going to say about the seasons is only an approximation for one cannot fix them with precise limits: winter is inclined to the phlegmatic, spring stirs the blood,  yellow bile comes out in the summer, the black in the autumn.


Classification of things which cause growth


We shall divide all things into mineral, vegetable and living animal possessing a body. It is the drug which conquers the illneses of the body; it is the food which causes it to grow. The former also possesses a temperament; the latter is known by the taste; this opinion is accurate and true. Sweet, salty and bitter are the qualities of dryness; pungent of warmth; every tart, sour and astringent flavor extols dryness and cold. Everything which is aqueous and tasteless is balanced; everything which is fat is warm and moist; cold and moist are that which is tasteless and unpleasant.





On temperaments according to age


Every living being varies in temperament according to his age; but we shall speak especially of man. The temperaments of children and of young people are warm and very much alike, with a little more dryness for the latter and a little more obvious moisture for the former. The mature man is cold just as is the aged one and so on. For both of them, there is a little more dryness together with crudeness of humors for the aged one.


Masculine and feminine temperaments

For males, warmth and dryness; for females cold and moisture.


Temperament according to the general appearance

 The prosperous and fleshy body is cold and moist. People with a lean and slender appearance show dryness. All those whose veins are apparent are warm,  and cold are those whose dispositions are the opposite. The balanced temperament possesses the average.


Signs of the temperament inferred from the colors and first on that of the skin


Do not infer any conjecture from the color of the skin if it is influenced by the country. For the Zendj(tribes of the Moors of Southern Morocco) the heat of the climate has modified the color of the body to the point that their skin is covered with black. The Slavs have become light to such a point that they are of  a brilliant whiteness. If you determined the seven climates, you would know their different temperaments. The fourth climate (Temperate zone) is balanced; the colour of it’s inhabitants depends on their temperament. The yellow complexion is that of the abile; the dark brown one is that of atrabile (black bile) redness depends on the great quantity of blood; ivory white characterizes the phlegmatic. The white complexion mixed with red construes a well-balanced temperament.


On the color of hair


He who has white hair has a cold temperament; the hair of the warm temperament is black; he who is less cold will have tawny hair; he who is less warm will have reddish hair; the one with a balanced temperament has tawny hair mixed with red.


On the color of eyes


When the crystalline lens and aqueous humor are of small volume,  clear and transparent, brilliant and moreover, outstanding, the eye is blue; the opposite conditions make it black. If the luminous medium is subdued, sight is less keen; if it is copious the eye is sharp.


Third natural component- Humors


The body is made up of humors of different colors and of different temperaments. They are phlegm, yellow bile, blood and black bile. Natural phlegm is tasteless and mixed with cold; there is a variety known under the name of glasssy, thick and of a cold temperament; another is sweet which is not void of warmth, there is also one called salty which leans towards warmth and dryness; another is acid and is the coldest; it is found in the sick stomach. Yellow bile allows several shades; one is known under the name of smoky; another is like the verdigris and the leek, which is the healthiest; another is like egg yolk and is not unhealthy; still another is a reddish color and is found in the gall bladder. Warmth is attributed to all. It is likely that the seat of black bile is in the spleen. The origin of blood is in the liver; the veins transport it throughout the entire body. There is also some blood in the heart; it preplexing; other wise it is not normal. It results from the mixture and the combusition of other humors.


The fourth natural component is the organs; the heart, liver, brain , the testicles, the skin, flesh and glands, the bones, membranes and ligaments. The fifth natural component is “Inspirations” or the spirit, which reside in the brain. The sixth natural component are “forces” , that which acts on the body and causes it to reproduce, moves substances through the body and influences the pulse and emotion. The soul posesses the five senses, the nerves,  reflections, thought and memory.  The seventh natural component is  Actions, the desire for food comes from intricate feeling and attraction.


The first necessary factor is Air.

This is influenced by the celestial bodies (the sun warms it), it’s geographical location (high in a mountain is colder), the seas and winds (north wind is cold and dry, south wind warm and moist, east is warm and tenuous, west moist and heavy) , terrain (condition of soil, bodies of water) , type of residence (number of openings, subteranean).


The type of cloth worn influences the temperament. Silk and cotton are warm, camel hair and wool are warm but a little dry, glossy and flax cloth posess coldness. Odors and perfumes as well as colours have their influence.


The second  necessary factor is Food and Beverage


“Be aware that it is food which aught to cause growth. For adults, it replaces instantly that which, being dissolved in the body, would decrease in quantity. The most commendable is the one which forms a pure blood when being transformed; for example, a good loaf of semolina,  the meat of young chickens. Likewise, the vegetable beet agrees with sick people. Amoung foods certain ones are thick; example; semolina and two-year-old lambs with flavorful meat. The fish caught in rocky waters is a thick food which agrees with people who have to work hard. Among  foods, there are some which, by themselves unpleasant to taste, are useful such as mustard, onion and garlic. In reality, they generate yellow bile; they are sometimes used as medicine. There are some which produce black bile and may make certain people sick; for example, old goats, old bulls, bread make from wheat with its impurities; that is dangerous. There are also those which create plegm; for examle, large fish and milk.


Rules concerning the beverage- Water or Others


Fresh river waters preserve their original moisture. They cause the elimination of residues and carry nourishment wihtin the vessels. The best is rain water for it contains nothing harmful. Among all waters certain ones have lost their primitive qualities and have assumed those of the substance which is mixed in it. Wine, date wine and milk nourish the body. There are some which lend their temperament ot the body; for example oxymel (honey and vinegar) when it is assimilated.


The third necessary factor is sleep (necessary for digestion of food) and wakefulness (rids the body of residue by action). The fourth necessary factor is movement (moderate is best) and rest (again moderation). The fifth necessary factor is elimination (of wastes and body liquids including sexual relations) and obstruction (blockage of these expulsions).


The sixth necessary factor is sensations(emotions)  which generate heat and cold, and can even in the case of severe sadness, cause weight loss.


Now I move to the causes of illness according to Avicenna. These causes are internal (immediate) and antecedent (of historical cause).


On the displacement of humors


Amoung the causes of illness, one admits that the temperament of an organ may be altered by the

overflow of humors in it. It is necessary to face the power of thrust of the humor, the weakness of the

reciever, the quantity of that evil humor and also the calibre of the vessels, the weakness of nutrition, That suffices to explain everything. Then, you will see, if it is dominated by that humor, that the organ may change temperament towards its opposite.


The Cause of Illness

The causes of illness are due to warmth, cold, moisture or dryness and the effect on the balance within the individual. Each of these have both an  inherent posession of the factor (eg. for warmth garlic) and a real aspect of the factor (the warm wind).


The symptoms of illness originate from the organs (brain, liver -where humors are born, lungs and heart-significantly the pulse). The pulse is affected by the age, country, season, temperament, general appearance and sex of the individual. The quality of  bodily wastes is significant in showing symptoms of illness.


Finally the signs of the predominance of the four body humors is discussed. Without reproducing the entire list of signs of the humors, I have focused on the causes related to the art of cookery.


Blood- no specific cause is given by Avicenna for the predominance of blood. Abnormal pulses however, indicate the imbalance of blood and can be caused by excessive warmth, southern countries, weakness, pregnancy and summer.


Yellow Bile- “warm baths are the cause of this state as are sojourns in southern countries, youth and the polonged misuse of spiced foods, especially in the summer.”


Black Bile- “causes are dry food, anxiety, permanent sadness and misery”


Phlegm- “The cause of this state is cold and moist food, old age, winter, sedentarity, lack of warm baths, sometimes gluttony, the sojourn in a country damp because of  its water flow..”


The Course of the Illness


“Our knowledge of the beginning of the illness will lead us to prescribe a light diet; in the period of ascension it will be necessary to maintain a proper internal medium; that is an aid to one’s lucky star; when the end of the illness has come, be very cautious with the dietary regimen.”



Duration of the illness can be both acute or chronic. Acute illness requires a diet that is “not too much nourishment for his strength nor any too small and unsubstantial” , “let the food be measured wisely for him like provisions for a traveler”. Chronic illness must be aided by an adequate diet or “he will lose strength”, the diet for the illness of intermediate duration should be “medium in strength and amount.”


From here, Avicenna teaches us the signs of crisis and death, healing  and recovery. Although these discussions are fascinating, they veer away from our discussion of the art of cookery, so I leave them for those wishing to learn more of the healing arts.


Medical Practice


The Practice of medicine is divided, into  one that is carried out with the aid of hands; the other with drugs and a suitable dietary regime. In reality, what one can obtain from a diet is not to be scorned. This includes two kinds; one a preserver of  health; the other one, curing the illness, and that during my lifetime, is the physicians’ aim


The physician should diagnose the illness, the cook must understand the humoral theory and follow the recommended diet to aid in recovery, this being the preserver of health.


On the Conservation of Health


Hygeine and  dietary regimen are the sources of maintaining health.


To preserve health, Avicenna says you must maintain the temperament of someone in good condition by giving him a suitable diet. If you need to change the person, you must give a diet that is opposite of their temperament.



On the dieteary regimen in general


It is proper to eat at least once in the space of a day and nigt, at most twice, the average being three times in two days. It is necessary to chew well to obtain good diegetions; e erything which is hard to chew is hard to digest. Wehn you eat an indigestible food, wisely take something to neutralize it, its oppositie, considering its temperament. In reality, there existsome poorly balance dtemperaments which an abnormal food suits. In thhis case, habit becomes a force. Satisfy your desire. Suppress a detrimental habit only gradually. Prefer moist meals, dispel the astringent ones, mix acid wiht the agreeable sweet flavor. Improve whatever is dry with the moist, whatever is cold by the warm; if the meat jis warm, mix it with a cold one; if it is moist, mix it wiht its opposite; if you fear the unhealthfulness of fat and its diffiuclt digestion, add some salt or acid to it, both will make it digestible”


The dietary regime is in turn affected by the hour of the meal , the best time being after exercise and defecating, in a ventilated place at a cool hour.


The season has significant effect on the diet. In summer light nourishment is called for, avoiding  heavy meat, and sweet food (as noted by Avicenna).  We are told that this diet is good for summer, fiery temperaments, young people and southern countries. The winter diet should be the opposite, the autumn should be half-way between winter and summer (as well as moister than winter) and spring diets should be less dry than in winter. At the end of autumn and the beginning of spring, use the winter diet (warming meats) and at the end of spring and beginning of autumn, the summer diet.


The traveller is given a special diet for both travel in winter and summer. The winter diet involves rich food and warm baths, the summer diet is described in much more detail.


“it is necessary to purge the man with copious bile if you fear his thirsting; destroy it with syrups before his departure for the heat is dangerous; feed him lighlty with cool vegetables, let him drink a large amount of water all at once.........Drink some purslane juice and some sourgrape juice diluted with water (is this possibly posca or must,or  verjuice?)  If you fear a change in your complexion because of the sun because it disfigures you with spots, use oil mixed with wax as one does in the harems.”


The diet for older people is one of strong food, in small amounts , use fat diets at intervals.


Curing the Illness


Avicenna summarizes his approach to curing in a single principle; “fight the illness with its opposite”. The illness due to warmth is treated with cold; it is just the opposite if it comes from coldness. If it comes from moisture, it is treated with dryness and vice versa..”


At this juncture, Avicenna gives the different medications and their properties and effected humors. There are purgatives that expell the various humors; amoung them;  scammony for yellow bile, donkey cucumber for phlegm, senna and fenel for black bile. The medications that cool for astringent use include sumac and myrtle, dry coriander, cinnamon,  rhubarb and barberry. Simple drugs which warm and do not purge are soapwort, pepper, cardomom, capsicum, saffron, mint, caper,  and organum (oregano) among others.


Avicenna teaches us  his description on how to recognize moist from dry and the degree of the property of simple medications (as opposed to compound). Where we speak of a food as having degrees as where  sugar is “warm in the 1st degree, moist in the second” , this is explained thusly,[8]


“Every cool or warm medication may be dry or moist. Dryness is recognized by its astringency and moist by what it softens. Physicians differ in opinion as regards the degrees of the property of drugs; I shall enlighten you. The action of the drug which, through reasoning, ought to modify the temperament of the patient prepresents the first degree of the property. Everything which causes a change hardly perceptible to the senses is a manifestation of the second degree. That which produces a considerable change, without, nevertheless, causing hte destruciton of the sick organ and does not disturb  the temperament, is of the tird degree. After this, through its burning heat or by the numbness produced, comes the destructin of the organ; you may say without making a mistake that it is the property of the fourth degee.”


Avicenna continues his medical treatise on medications and the signs and treatment for the changes of temperament. Suffice to say he treats the illness due a change to the patients temperament, therefore the cool person who becomes ill should be treated with warmth and vice versa. Illnesses are treated with phlebotomy (bleeding) and evacuation of the excess humor  through drugs or other means.


Finally Avicenna ends his poem with his descriptions of Surgical procedures  including bleeding, excision,incision and cauterization and ends with treatment of dislocations and fractures.


He says in closing;“Behold the entire account of practical medicine! Here I conclude my purpose- I have finished.”I too, have finished this treatment of Avicenna’s Poem on Medicine.




The Application of Humoral Theory as found in “Tacuinum Sanitatis”  or “The Medieval Health Handbook


To my knowledge, nowhere is the humoral theory better illuminated than in this work. First described in 1895, Tacuinum Sanitatis In Medicina, was presented as an illuminated manuscript, to be followed by the connection to four other such manuscripts almost identical in style and content. These 5 manuscripts (created in the 1300-1400’s) were as follows;


The Tacuina of  Vienna

The Tacuinium of Leige- the Workshop of Giovannino dei Grassi

The Tacuinum of Paris- Incunabulum of Courtly Taste

The Theatrum in the Casanatense Library in Rome

The Tacuinum of Rouen


Without getting into an in depth analysis of each of the works, let it suffice to say that they were herbal manuals with roots in Arabic medicine.[9]


In the Rouen MS, we find the following introduction;


“The Tacuinum sanitatis is about the six things that are necessary for every man in the daily preservation of his  health, about their correct uses and their effects. The first is the treatment of air, which concerns the heart. The second is the right use of foods and drinks. The third is the correct use of movement and rest. The fourth is the problem of prohibition of the body from sleep, or excessive wakefulness. The fifth is the correct use of elimination and retention of humors. The sixth is the regulating of the person by moderating  joy, anger, fear, and distress. The secret of the preservation of health, in fact, will be in the proper balance of all these elements, since it is the disturbance of this balance that causes the illnesses which the glorious and most exalted God permits. Listed under these six classifications are many very useful varieties whose nature, God willing, we shall explain. We shall speak, furthermore, about the choices suitable to each person owing to his constitution and age, and shall include all these elements in the form of simple tables because the discussions of the sages and the discordances in many different books may bore the reader. Men, in fact, desire from science nothing else but the benefits, not the arguments but the definitions. Accordingly, our intention in this book is to shorten long-winded discourses and synthesize the various ideas. Our intention also, however, is not to neglect the advice of the ancients.”

Ensuing this are illuminations which describe the nature of the subject, whether it be animal, vegetable or mineral, element or etherial. The Tacuinum Sanitatis, was meant to be used by those who although may be learned men (and women), were not physicians who were versed in the art and debated the various factors.

I cannot include an entire list of every manuscript and the subjects described therein. I offer however a sampling from The Tacuinum of Leige, as well as a small sample from the Casanatense MS for our understanding and comparison.

In Conclusion

The purpose of this work was to explore, explain and make clear the relationship between cooking and medicine in regards to Humoural Theory. I have learned a great deal in the writing of this work and intend on further research into the matter. Applications of this theory to cooking can be found in Platina’s On Right Pleasure and Good Health, and in other MS recipes that are available.  I have followed Platina’s work and advice in regards to the humours (he gives his own instruction as to the qualtities of various foodstuffs in the above noted MS). The written work on this subject is available at the Middle Kingdom Cook’s Collegium website at http://mkcooks.homestead.  No longer will I be confused as to the numerous cooking treatments and multiple spices used in completion of recipes. The method to the madness is found in Humoural Theory.
Qualities, Elements, Seasons, Humours: Interpretations in Art of the Middle Ages


Based on a diagram from Isidoe of Seville, Liber de responsione mundi (Augsburg, 1472).[10]

Four qualities, four elements, four seasons, four humours




body fluid










"yellow bile"










"black bile"


The Shepherd's Calendar, published by Nicholas Le Rouge, Troyes, c1495.[11] Left to right; Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Melancholic.


In literature for example, in the Middle English lyric, "Thirty Dayes Hath November," the author sums up the moral and physical associations of the four humours [12]:

 Maxwell Luria and Richard L. Hoffman, eds. Middle English Lyrics. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1974) p. 112.


Sluggy and slowe, in spetinge muiche,
Cold and moist, my natur is suche;
Dull of wit, and fat, of contenaunce strange,
Fleumatike, this complecion may not change.

Deliberal I am, loving and gladde,
Laghinge and playing, full seld I am sad;
Singing, full fair of colour, bold to fight,
Hote and moist, beninge, sanguine I hight.

I am sad and soleynge with heviness in thoght;
I covet right muiche, leve will I noght;
Fraudulent and suttill, full cold and dry,
Yollowe of colour, colorike am I.

       Envius, dissevabill, my skin is roghe;
       Outrage in exspence, hardy inoghe,
       Suttill and sklender, hote and dry,
       Of colour pale, my nam is malencoly.





1. Abu ‘ Ali al-Husain ibn ‘Abd-Allah ibn Hasan ibn ‘ Ali ibn Sina or Avicenna, al-’Arjuzat fi’t-ibb,  Avicenna’s Poem on Medicine, translated by Haven C. Krueger, A.M., M.D., Witchita Kansas, Charles C Thomas Publisher, Springfield Illinois U.S.A., 1963


al-’Arjuzat fi’t-ibb, is known to have been translated into Latin many times, beginning with Gerardo Cremona’s translation in the middle of the twelfth century. Following is a review of the translations and work done with al-’Arjuzat fi’t-ibb   as found in Avincenna’s Poem on Medicine.


12th C- Translation into Latin-Gerardo of Cremona

13th C- Translation into Latin- Armengaud de Blaise of Montpellier

16th C- (1522) Published in Venice and Lyon

             (1527) Translation- Andrea Alpagus of Bellune

                (1562) Marginal Notes Added- Benedictus Rinius Venetus

17th C- (1608) Index and vocabulary- Joanne Costus and Joanne Paulo Mongius

                (1630) Translation in verse - Jean Faucher

                (1649) Last prose edition- Antonius Deusingius



2. Ibn Butlan, Tacuinum Sanitatis,   translated into Italian by Luisa Cogliati Arano, Translated and Adapted into English by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook, George Braziller, New York, 1976


3. Luria, Maxwell and Hoffman, Richard L., eds. Middle English Lyrics. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1974) p. 112. The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies


4. Le Rouge, Nicholas The Shepherd's Calendar,



5. Qualities, Elements, Seasons, Humours,  Based on a diagram from Isidoe of Seville, Liber de responsione mundi Augsburg, 1472

Ancient Medicine/Medicina Antiqua::Hypertexts:Galen, On the Natural Faculties translated by Arthur John Brock, M.D.


[2] Avincenna’s Poem on Medicine, pg 3

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid, pg 7

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid  pg 9

[7] Milham writes;“Platina has drawn upon the regimen sanitatis, the Arabic “rules of health” which had been known to Italian medicine since the School of Salerno and Arnaldo de Villa Nova. ..................Weiss-Amer has traced these from the origin of the terms in Galen through their formulation as a regimen by Johannitius in the ninth century and through the great Arabic doctors, Avicenna, Averroes and Rhazes to their translation into Latin and entry into European medicine. Platina’s opening chapters of Book 1, the final chapter of Book 10 and his humorical theory, and some of his discussions of foodstuffs show clear affinities with this tradition”[7]


Although not the regimen sanitatis, I have chosen the Poem as the model for understanding the application of Humoural Theory. The English translation that I am working from is based on the French and German translations of Avicenna’s work by Jahier, Noureddine, Opitz and Deusingius. [7] From this work I will provide an overview of Avicenna’s medicine and it’s application to the field of culinary arts.


[8] Tacuinum Sanitatis f. 62

[9] The Medieval Health Handbook, pg 8




[12] Maxwell Luria and Richard L. Hoffman, eds. Middle English Lyrics. (New York: W.W. Norton, 1974) p. 112. The Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies