Naturalistic Theories of Diseases
Naturalistic Theories Naturalistic theories of disease tend to view health as a state of harmony between the person and his or her environment; when this balance is upset, illness will result. The naturalistic explanation assumes that illness is due to impersonal, mechanistic causes in nature that potentially can be understood and cured by returning the patient to a balanced state. Humoral, Ayurvedic, and vitalistic are three of the widely practiced approaches to curing naturalitically caused illness or to explain what causes illness. Preventing naturalistic illness includes methods such as proper hygiene, a balanced diet, and meditation. These types of illness are treated by practitioners such as physicians, nurses, acupuncturists, and chiropractors. Methods include dietary changes, massage, medication, exercise, and physical adjustments.
Humoral Humoral pathology was developed and became the basis of both ancient Greek and Roman medicine. It is part of the mainstream medical system in Latin America and Asia.
The humoral system is an ancient belief system based on the idea that our bodies have four important fluids, or humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. These four fluids are related to seasons, internal organs, physical qualities (hot–cold; wet–dry), and human temperaments (see Table 2.1). Each humor is thought to have its own “ complexion.” For example, blood is hot and wet, and yellow bile is hot and dry. Different kinds of illnesses, medicines, foods, and most natural objects also have specific complexions.
Curing an illness involves discovering the complexion imbalance and rectifying it. A hot injury
or illness must be treated with a cold remedy and vice versa (O’Neil, 2005). In the 19th century there was a radical transition from the humoral theory to the germ theory of disease, which involved new concepts, rules, and classifications, as well as the abandonment of old ones.
TABLE 2.1 Humor and Related Organ and Complexion
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