Medicine During the Elizabethan Era

Topics: Sulfuric acid, Alchemy, Classical element Pages: 4 (1116 words) Published: April 21, 2005
The Elizabethan Era
Medicine and Alchemy

The medicinal practices and problems of the Elizabethan Era were very important to the people, although they are very different from those of today. There were many different beliefs and diseases, like the Plague. Medicine was not an exact science and was related to Alchemy (Chemistry). Here, some of the many practices and beliefs of the Elizabethan Era will be discussed.

One of the most widely known and important of the beliefs was the humours. It was believed that every living creature was composed of four elements, the humours. They were blood, phlegm, choler (or yellow bile), and melancholy (or black bile). It was believed that the overall total combination of these four elements determined the person's characteristics. For example, a person with more blood than other humours was hot and wet in their nature, a person with more phlegm was cold and wet, a person with more choler was hot and dry, and a person with melancholy being the dominant humour was cold and dry. It was also believed that too much of a certain humour caused disease. That meant the removing or avoiding the dominant humour could cure any disease.

Removal could be done by eating corresponding foods. For example, if a person was phlegmatic in nature, that meant that he was cold and wet, he could be cured if he ate hot and dry foods. Medicines like pepper, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, watercress, and mustard would be useful to such a person. A fever, which was believed to have been caused by excess blood, could have been cured in two ways. One way was to eat cold and dry food, and the other was to have excess blood sucked out by leeches.

Another of the many popular beliefs was that every living thing put on Earth by god was for human use. He gave humans control over his creatures. All of them had certain roles, as food, medicine, etc. For example, cows were put on Earth to supply people with meat and milk, and wheat was there to supply bread....

Bibliography: Ramsey, Lia. "Medical Beliefs and Practices." Elizabethan England. Springfield Public School District. .
McLean, Adam. "Articles." The Alchemy Website. 1995. .
Chamberlin, E.R. Everyday Life in Renaissance Times. London: B.T. Batsford LTD, 1967.
Andrews, John F. William Shakespeare: His World, His Work, His Influence. Canada: Collier MacMillian, 1985.
"Alchemy." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001–04. .
Trimble, Russell, "Alchemy," in The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal edited by Gordon Stein (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1996), pp. 1-8.
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