Factors in Health and Wellness 9 (against nature), or diseased state. Thus, in his Isagoge ( Introduction to Medicine ), the Eastern Christian physician Hunayn ibn Ishaq (d. ca. 873 or 877), known as Johannitius in the West, wrote about the need to consider the effect of the foods people ate on their humors, noting that “foods are of two kinds: good food is that which brings about a good humor, and bad food is that which brings about an evil humor.” For example, he indicated that fresh bread and lamb produce healthy blood, mustard and garlic beget yellow bile, cabbage and the meat of old goats make black bile, while pork produces phlegm (Cholmeley 1912, 145–146). Furthermore, seasonal shifts and weather changes might cause the body’s humoral balance to shift in response, meaning that the individual would need to monitor her diet and regimen con- tinually with regard to other environmental conditions. In addition to regulating diet and exercise, individuals could take other prophylactic measures in response to seasonal influences on the body for exam- ple, people would be sure to receive a preventative bloodletting in the spring (the season when blood, the hot and wet humor, would rise) to guard against diseases caused by excess blood. Disease Theory in Indian Ayurvedic Medicine From an early stage, Indian Ayurvedic medicine developed a highly complex theoretical understanding of the body and how it related to the origin and progress of disease. The central belief of Ayurvedic dis- ease theory revolves around the concept of the three doshas , or humors, which are responsible for the proper functioning of the body: vata (wind or air), pitta (bile or fire), and kapha (phlegm or water). Although the doshas are found throughout the body, each one is believed to have a primary seat within a particular part of the body where it tends to congregate and have the greatest influence: vata (colon, large intes- tines), pitta (small intestines), kapha (lungs, chest). Learned Indian doc- tors, like Greek medical philosophers, believed in a correspondence between the human body (microcosm) and the universe (macrocosm) and regarded each of the doshas as being composed of two of the five constituent elements of the cosmos (ether, air, fire, water, earth). Thus, according to a system of correspondence, the body’s internal doshas are linked to the macrocosm so that vata is believed to be composed of ether and air, pitta is composed of fire and water, and kapha is composed of water and earth. Furthermore, the balance in the body of the quantity and quality of the doshas can be affected by numerous macrocosmic and microcosmic factors, including the food eaten, the level of physical activity, the climate, and the age and emotional state of the individual.
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