The Dietary Management of Disease

     In Greek Medicine, dietary therapy and managing the patient's diet is an essential part of disease treatment, recovery and nursing the patient back to health.  If we are to use the natural treatment methods and medicines of Greek Medicine, our success will be limited at best, and not thorough, lasting or complete unless we accompany our treatments with the right dietary measures.  Indulging in the wrong food choices, at the wrong time, can spoil what otherwise would have been a faultless recovery.
     Most conventional doctors practicing modern medicine are not very particular at all when it comes to diet, and don't give their patients much dietary advice, if any.  The reasons for this are twofold:
     1)  Most people's dietary habits are so poor, irregular or unhealthy that the doctor cynically feels that any dietary advice, if given, would simply be ignored.  The busyness and demands of modern life often interfere with the proper, healthy regulation of diet as well.
     2)  The powerful pharmaceutical drugs given will usually produce the desired effect regardless of what the patient eats, by suppressing the symptoms and bludgeoning the patient's body into submission.  There's a price to pay for this in overall health diminution over the long term, but most people don't care; they just want to pop a pill and forget it.
     Diet and dietary therapy in Greek Medicine is divided into two basic parts:
     1)  The general rules and principles of healthy eating on a regular, daily basis, and the dietary management of one's temperament, or constitutional type. 
     2)  Rules and principles regarding the dietary management of disease and the recovery process; this involves special, short-term diets and regimens designed to achieve certain specific therapeutic goals and objectives.
     To put it another way, you could say that there are basically two kinds of diets:
     1)  A diet undertaken to maintain overall health and wellbeing on a regular basis over the long term.
     2)  A diet undertaken over the short term, or for a limited time period, designed to achieve certain specific therapeutic goals and objectives.
     The first kind of diet was discussed in the article on Diet:  Food and Drink in the Hygiene section.  Here, we will deal with diets of the second kind, or those designed for disease management and health recovery.

Dietary Therapy in Acute Diseases

     Dietary therapy is very important in the proper management of acute diseases.  Particularly important is what Hippocrates called the acute crisis, which is the acme, or climax, of an acute illness.  At this stage of the acute disease process, the body is in a catharsis of elimination, so the worst thing to do is to burden it with digesting a lot of heavy foods.
     When going through the acute crisis, Hippocrates would feed his patients a liquid diet.  This can consist of herbal teas or decoctions; broths made from green, root or sea vegetables;  or fruit or vegetable juices diluted at least 50 / 50 with water.  (Fruit and vegetable juices should not be mixed.)  This will keep the patient well-hydrated with fluids while providing a basic amount of easily assimilable vitamins, minerals, sugars and carbohydrates for basic energy and metabolic needs.  If juices are used, they must be at room temperature or warmer, not cold. 
     Hippocrates explains his position on diet during the acute crisis in the following aphorisms:

     When the disease is at its height, it will then be necessary to use the most slender diet.
                                                  -  Aphorisms  I : 8

     We must retrench during paroxysms, for to exhibit food would be injurious.  And in all diseases having periodical paroxysms, we must restrict during the paroxysms.
                                                 -  Aphorisms  I : 11

     A paroxysm is another word for an acute crisis episode.  In other words, some acute diseases go through multiple, recurring or periodic crises.  Whenever the patient is going through a crisis phase, we must administer only liquids, because the patient is eliminating toxins and pathogens from his system.
     If an acute disease has made its onset, but things are not yet at the crisis, or if the acute disease is in between paroxysms, or crisis phases, what do we do?  What kind of diet do we administer to the patient?  Hippocrates explains:

     We must form a particular judgment of the patient, whether he will support the diet until the acme of the disease, and whether he will sink previously and not support the diet, or the disease will give way previously, and become less acute.
                                                -  Aphorisms  I : 9

     In other words, it's a judgment call.  The physician must know the constitutional vigor and vitality of the patient and his/her energy reserves.  On the other side of the equation, or battle, the physician must know the inherent seriousness and virulence of the acute disease the patient faces, and its probable course, or outcome. 
     Basically, you want to feed the patient a light diet throughout the course of the acute disease, but one sufficiently nutritious and hearty to support his/her energy levels sufficiently so that, when the crisis comes and we must retrench to a liquid diet, the patient has enough basic vitality and stamina to make it through.  To support adequately, but not overburden the patient's digestive system is the guiding principle.
     The more severe and acute the symptoms, the more slender and restricted must be the diet; conversely, the milder the symptoms, the more generous a diet we are allowed to give the patient.  Hippocrates explains:

     When the disease is very acute, it is attended with extremely severe symptoms in its first stage; and therefore, an extremely attenuated diet must be used.  When this is not the case, but it is allowable to give a more generous diet, we may depart as for from the severity of regimen as the disease, by its mildness, is removed from the extreme.
                                                   -  Aphorisms  I : 7


Gruels, Soups and Ptisans

     One basic strategy of dietary therapy that works very well not only in acute illnesses, when things are not right at the crisis, or for a generalized detoxification and cleansing regime, are various kinds of soups and gruels.  They are easy to digest and assimilate while still being quite hearty and nutritious.  They are balanced, light and nutritious while still allowing the organism to cleanse and detoxify. 
     Hippocrates used Ptisan,which is basically a barley gruel, with which other things can be cooked in, such as lentils, pulses and root vegetables.  Chinese medicine uses congee, which is a rice gruel, to which other light foods may be added, as needed.  Indian Ayurvedic medicine uses kitcharee, which is a kind of soup or gruel made from rice and lentils or mung beans. 
     Hippocrates used barley for his ptisans because, when cooked, it was very smooth, lubricating and emollient, with a large quantity of mucilage, was easily digestible, and was totally free of any harshness or astringency.  For those in extremely frail health with delicate, sensitive digestions, or for those near to or recovering from an acute crisis episode, the barley grains could be strained off, and only the juice or mucilage would be given.
     As a therapeutic food and nutritive medium, these gruels, or ptisans, are quite versatile, and may be adjusted in many ways to suit the particular needs of the patient and his/her condition and therapeutic situation.  Is the patient sensitive to heavy carbohydrates?  Then reduce or cut out the rice or barley and replace it with millet, quinoa, squash or yams.  Does the patient need extra minerals?  Then fortify the ptisan with sea vegetables. 
     The combination of rice or barley with beans or pulses makes for a complete protein and assortment of amino acids.  Mung beans or lentils are generally the most easily digested.  To enhance the ptisan's digestibility, cook in mild spices, like fresh Ginger, Coriander and Cumin.
     In flavoring the gruel or ptisan, a little organic soy sauce is OK, but keep it mild.  Excessive salt will burden the liver and kidneys, and interfere with proper elimination and detoxification. 
     To cook a gruel or ptisan, use extra water - one and a half to two times more water than you would for cooking the grains and lentils or mung beans ordinarily.  To have it the consistency of a thick soup or stew is sufficient for most people in most therapeutic situations, but for patients in extremely delicate health whose digestive systems are extremely frail and weak, the ptisan must be made thinner, with extra water.  After cooking, you may also pour the gruel into a blender and liquefy it. 
     For those in frail or delicate health who are convalescing from a debilitating disease, eating lightly is the way to go.  Great harm can be done by overloading the patient's digestive tract with food that he/she is not up to digesting.

Restriction versus Generosity in Diet

     If we are not suffering from an acute illness, or undertaking a diet for some specific short term therapeutic goal, how do we decide how liberal or restrictive we can be with our diet?  Hippocrates cautions us against excessive restriction in diet in the following aphorism:

     A slender and restricted diet is always dangerous in chronic diseases, and also in acute diseases, where it is not requisite.  And again, a diet brought to the extreme point of attenuation is dangerous; and repletion, when in the extreme, is also dangerous.
                                                 -  Aphorisms  I : 4

     In other words, Hippocrates was basically for sensibility and moderation in diet, avoiding extremes of excess or restriction.  He did not favor dietary restrictions where not absolutely necessary.  Especially in chronic diseases, the diet must be nutritious and well-rounded if the patient is to recover his health, strength and vitality. 
     There's another reason why Hippocrates preferred to err on the side of generosity in diet, as is explained in the following aphorism:

     In a restricted diet, patients who transgress it are thereby more hurt; for every such transgression, whatever it may be, is followed by greater consequences than in a diet somewhat more generous.  On this account, a very slender, regulated and restricted diet is dangerous to persons in health, because they bear transgressions of it more difficultly.  For this reason, a slender and restricted diet is generally more dangerous than one a little more liberal.
                                                   -  Aphorisms  I : 5

Correcting Humoral Imbalances with Diet

     In Greek Medicine, as in other traditional healing systems, dietary therapy was seen to be an essential adjunct therapy to herbal medicine.  The diet given to the patient had to help and assist, and not hinder, the natural herbal medicines he/she was taking.  If the diet was not supporting the medicines and therapies administered to the patient, the success of the treatment would be partial or limited at best.
     If the patient's body is eliminating excessive or superfluous humors, then a light diet of easily digestible foods is given.  If the patient is suffering from nutritional or humoral deficiencies, or is recovering from an emaciating or debilitating illness, then a hearty, generous and full diet is given.
     In recommending the right diet to a patient, the physician must always be mindful of the patient's pepsis, or digestion.  Assessing the condition of the patient's pepsis, the physician never gives the patient food that he cannot digest and assimilate properly.  Not only is the food important, but also so is the way it is prepared.
     For example, a patient with a frail and delicate digestion may not be up to digesting and assimilating a slice of roast beef, but may be perfectly able to handle beef broth.  Similarly, boiled potatoes are definitely easier to digest than french fried potatoes.
     If the patient's  pepsis and digestion are weak, they may be strengthened and improved with the right foods, herbs and spices.  Generally, these are pungent and aromatic, like onions, garlic, ginger, horseradish or basil.  Improving the patient's pepsis and digestion is a basic, foundational therapeutic strategy in Greek Medicine because it is so important to the overall health and nutritional status of the patient. 
     Improving pepsis and digestion also helps to detoxify the organism and concoct, or consume and eliminate, morbid or superfluous humors.  And a stronger, better pepsis helps to neutralize toxins and keep these morbid substances from accumulating.
     Generally, foods with opposite qualities to the offending or unbalanced humor are given.  Perhaps the best known examples are hot pungent foods like peppers, ginger or garlic to consume, concoct and eliminate excess phlegm.
     Then, the other half of this strategy for correcting humoral imbalances is to avoid foods that aggravate the offending humor.  This way, you don't work against yourself and create any new humoral excesses or imbalances. 
     The particulars of dietary management of humoral imbalances will be discussed in subsequent articles in this section.


Dietary Therapy in Chronic Diseases

     Generally speaking, chronic diseases require a diet that is hearty, wholesome and nutritious to build strength and vitality and strengthen weakened organs and systems.  It is here that food can truly be our best medicine. 
     Above all, in chronic diseases, we must learn to allow sufficient generosity and flexibility in dietary food choices.  Dietary restrictions where not absolutely necessary should be avoided, as a diet that is too strict and austere will have a more limited spectrum or range of nutritional factors present in it.
     The physician must be careful and vigilant in his assessment of the chronic disease sufferer, noting carefully which bodily organs and systems have become compromised and run down.  Then he must carefully design therapeutic strategies, incorporating diet, for rebuilding these faculties and organ systems.
     On the one hand, the physician must identify and eliminate problematic foods that are aggravating or contributing to the patient's chronic condition.  An accurate assessment of the patient's constitutional nature and temperament is essential, because frequently the offending foods are those that are not suited to the patient's constitutional type. 
     When the patient's constitutional nature and temperament is of a dual type, a basic diet must be chosen that is suited to the primary temperament with nothing in it that will aggravate or unbalance the patient's secondary temperament.  With three temperaments of roughly equal strength but one humor / temperament that is deficient, the weak one must be supplemented and strengthened with diet and tonic herbal therapy.
     This whole idea of problematic foods ties in a lot with the modern medical concept of food allergies and intolerances.  There is nothing wrong with using modern food allergy testing protocols; in many cases, these findings will help elucidate the subtler, more hidden aspects of the patient's constitutional nature and temperament.
     The basic guidelines for the dietary management of each of the Four Temperaments have been given in the article on Diet in the Hygiene section.  More about dietary therapy will be said in the articles on the therapeutic management of each of the Four Temperaments in this section.
     And then there are those who have multiple food sensitivities and intolerances.  In most of these cases, the patient's pepsis, or inherent vital forces of digestion and metabolism, needs to be strengthened and improved.  Some food allergies and intolerances may prove to be deep-rooted and primary, but most of the secondary ones will ameliorate or disappear when pepsis is improved. 
     Then, once the problems involving food allergies and intolerances and problematic or aggravating foods have been resolved and handled, the physician can then select special therapeutic foods for the patient.  The general rule is that any therapeutic food that rebuilds the compromised or weakened organ or system that does not aggravate the condition or humoral imbalance, or is in no other way problematic, may be used.
     In all chronic conditions in which the digestive system and Natural Faculty have been weakened or compromised, rebuilding them is a top priority in rebuilding health.  This is because the nutritional factors to rebuild every other organ or tissue in the body must first be digested and assimilated by the Natural Faculty.  Chronic digestive disorders are those which are most immediately affected and improved by therapeutic changes in diet.

Therapeutic Foods:  Let Your Food Be Your Medicine

     A knowledge of the therapeutic indications and contraindications of various foods is a part of Greek Medicine, as it is of all other traditional healing systems.  In rebuilding the organs and systems of the body from the ravages of chronic disease, the physician and practitioner of Greek Medicine uses food just as much as herbs and other natural medicinal substances.
     Like natural medicines, foods also have their own inherent nature and temperament, or makeup of qualities.  Like natural medicines, foods can also be used to adjust the levels of the Four Humors and influence the physiological functions of the body.  The only difference is not one of kind, but of degree; foods are milder, whereas herbs and natural medicines are more potent and concentrated. 
     In this list of traditional health food tonics for the various organs, systems and parts of the body, many spices and condiments, some common and others not so common, are listed.  That's because there's no clear demarcation line between foods and natural medicines.  Some of the less common items are often available at Indian, Middle Eastern, or Oriental ethnic food markets.
     Selecting the right therapeutic foods to rebuild an organ or system of the body is also a matter of choosing an item with a suitable nature and temperament.  For example, both pears and horseradish are useful in chronic lung and respiratory conditions, but pears are cooling and moistening, and therefore useful in conditions of lung heat and dryness, whereas horseradish is hot and spicy, and therefore useful in clearing up phlegm and lung congestion.
     Many of the food items listed here can be found elsewhere in this website, particularly in the Greek Health Foods and Therapeutic Foods articles in the Therapies section.
     Hair:  Nettles, Garlic, Sea Vegetables, Rosemary
     Eyes:  Blueberries, Carrots, Sea Buckthorn berries, Elderberries, Blackberries, Currants, Shark's Fin
     Nose:  Horseradish, Fenugreek, Onions, Garlic, Wild Ginger
     Throat:  Peppermint, Sage, Honey, Lemon
     Lungs / Respiratory:  Onions, Leeks, Garlic, Mustard, Horseradish, Fenugreek, Elderberries, Pine Nuts, Apricot kernels, Pears, Jujubes, Comfrey, Quince seeds, Black Cumin (Nigella), Loquat, Buckwheat, Ginger, Thyme, Cinnamon, Lotus root.
     Heart / Circulatory:  Sage, Saffron, Red Wine, Nettles, Elderberries, Fish Oil, Blueberries, Blackberries, Turmeric, Apricot kernels, Peach kernels, Garlic, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips.
     Stomach:  Quince, Cardamom, Juniper berries, Mastic, Peppermint, Alfalfa, Tangerine peel, Oregano, Bitter Orange peel, Ginger, Cumin, Caraway, Black Cumin (Nigella), Lavender, Sage, Garlic, Asafoetida, Bay Laurel, Fenugreek
     Intestines (Includes laxative foods):  Quince, Carob, Rhubarb, Honey, Figs, Dates, Raisins, Oats, Barley, Whole Grains, Flax seeds, Hemp seeds, Peach kernels, Yogurt, Whey, Colostrum, Sea Buckthorn, Bitter Orange peel, Grapefruit rinds and whites, Plums, Prunes, Comfrey root, Sea Vegetables, Black Cumin (Nigella), Asafoetida, Garlic, Turmeric, Pomegranate
     Liver:  Endive, Dandelion greens, Fenugreek, Turmeric, Tarragon, Rosemary, Burdock root (Japanese Gobo), Lettuce, Lemons, Limes, Bitter Orange, Fennel, Artichoke, Mustard greens, Bitter greens and herbs.
     Kidneys / Urinary:  Artichoke, Asparagus, Celery root, Parsley root, Cherries, Watermelon, Burdock root (Japanese Gobo), Dandelion root and greens, Fenugreek, Currants, Blackberries, Sea Buckthorn berries, Nettles, Grape leaves, Flax seeds, Cucumber, Adzuki beans, Mung beans, Black beans, Bean Pods
     Reproductive:  Oysters, Human Placenta, Seahorse, Turtle soup and essence / oil, Bee Pollen, Sea Buckthorn berries, Fenugreek, Shrimp, Pumpkin seeds, Lotus seeds
     Skin:  Onions, Garlic, Ginger, Peppermint, Nettles.  Avoid fish and shellfish, including shrimp and lobster, in all acute skin rashes and eruptions. 
     Bones and Joints:  Comfrey, Alfalfa, Nettles
     The physician and dietary therapist not only needs to know which foods are therapeutic and indicated in a particular condition, but also which foods are harmful and aggravating to it, and therefore contraindicated.  A more thorough discussion of food contraindications is found in the Therapeutic Foods article in the Therapies section.


Greek Medicine on Fad Diets

     Fad diets are a phenomenon of our times.  Someone who was chronically ill regains their health through a radical, extreme diet, and with messianic zeal sets out to convert everyone to their way of eating.
     Many try the diet, and are able to duplicate the originator's success in vanquishing their health complaints, and become converts; and so, the fad diet gains a following.  But there are also many others who try the diet and don't do so well; their health becomes severely compromised or unbalanced, sometimes to the point of no return.
     What's going on here?  The phenomenon of fad diets and their successes and failures only underscores what Greek Medicine has been saying all along: that there are different temperaments, or metabolic body types, and that no single diet works equally well for all.
     Choleric individuals, with their inherently strong pepsis, or digestion, metabolism and gastric fire, do very well on vegan, fruitarian, sproutarian or raw food diets.  In fact, the more raw juices and salads they eat, the better, since these cleanse the blood of the excess heat and choler that they are prone to. 
     But those of a colder temperament, whose pepsis, or digestion and metabolisms, aren't so hot, fiery and robust suffer problems on such diets.  Melancholic individuals, whose digestions are sensitive, colicky and delicate, have their digestive problems aggravated by the coldness, and a certain subtle kind of astringency that is inherent in many raw foods.  Phlegmatic individuals find their already low metabolic heat and digestive fire being further drained by all the cold, wet, raw foods, which can also aggravate their inherent predisposition towards fluid retention.
     Macrobiotic diets are the perfect solution for many of the health problems that Sanguine individuals are prone to, which are rampant in the dietary abuses of modern affluent society: diabetes, high cholesterol, gout, heart disease, etc...  The high fiber content of the macrobiotic diet can also be quite beneficial for Melancholics, whose sensitive intestines are quite prone to colic and constipation.
     The rustic simplicity of the macrobiotic diet appeals greatly to Melancholic individuals.  However, they may get too rigid and extreme in their following of such a diet, and not allow for sufficient supplementation and variety.  And so, the macrobiotic diet becomes macroneurotic! 
     While Melancholics and Sanguines find great help in the whole grains of a macrobiotic diet in overcoming a craving for sweets,  Phlegmatic individuals may find that overloading on starchy brown rice aggravates an intolerance for heavy carbohydrates.  Then, switching to other lower carbohydrate, higher protein grains like millet or quinoa may be the solution.
     The macrobiotic diet, although it can be taken to extremes, is an inherently more balanced diet than the various raw food diets that are out there.  That's because they emphasize beans, pulses and whole grains, which are the most inherently balanced staple foods we can eat.  An elimination of the rich, fatty, high protein foods and phlegm-forming dairy products is another beneficial feature of this diet, particularly for Phlegmatic and Sanguine individuals. 
     The Atkins diet is a high protein, low carbohydrate diet designed for weight loss that features a lot of meat.  Those who have an innate intolerance for heavy carbohydrates have the most success with this diet, and many of these individuals are Phlegmatic in temperament. 
     However, all the heavy meat and rich, fatty foods that are the mainstay of the Atkins diet place a great toxic burden on the liver and kidneys, and cause or aggravate conditions of gout, uremia or high cholesterol, as well as heart and kidney disease.  This is bad news for Sanguine individuals, and in those of a Choleric temperament, it aggravates ulcers, gastritis and bilious conditions of the liver.  All the heavy meat eating may clog and congest the bowels of Sanguine or Melancholic individuals, causing or aggravating constipation and colon toxicity.  And fresh fruits and vegetables, the great protective and detoxifying foods, are virtually absent in the Atkins diet. 
     If you want to raise the protein content and lower the carbohydrate content of your diet, there are much better, healthier and more balanced ways to do it than the Atkins diet.  You can even do so while remaining vegetarian.  Simply replace the starchier, glutinous grains like rice or wheat with higher protein grains like millet, quinoa or buckwheat.  Increase your intake of beans and pulses, nuts and seeds, soy products and sea vegetables.  And have some consideration for your heart, liver, kidneys and intestines!
     Last year, I watched the rapid demise and death of my mother due to chronic health problems and complications involving heart and blood pressure imbalances, kidney disease and severe constipation.  Unfortunately, my mother was a zealous adherent of the Atkins diet, which enabled her to remain beautifully slim and trim throughout life, but failed to keep her basic health and physiology sound, balanced and resilient.


Greek Medicine and Weight Management

     Persons who are naturally very fat are apt to die earlier than those who are slender.
                                                    -  Aphorisms II : 44

     With this simple observation, Hippocrates was the first to notice what has probably been recognized as the single greatest, most undeniable truth in health and medicine:  That people who are chronically overweight have shorter life expectancies, and suffer more health problems and complications than slender people, which include diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and many others.
     And so, that makes weight management a top priority.  Maintaining a healthy, optimum body weight for your height and frame is probably the single most important thing you can do for your health.
     But how do we manage our diets properly if we need to lose weight?  Obviously, it's not as simple as just reducing our daily caloric intake and increasing our exercise and activity levels.  What kinds of foods we eat, and when and how we eat them are also important, according to your metabolic body type, or temperament.
     Just as important, or perhaps more so, than reducing our caloric intake is making our pepsis, or digestion and metabolism, more balanced and efficient.  For optimum weight loss, Greek Medicine stimulates and improves the individual's pepsis, or digestion and metabolism, in addition to curbing caloric intake.
     The overweight person initially reacts with shock and disbelief.  He thinks that the reason he's overweight is that he digested and assimilated the nutrients in food too efficiently.
     But if one takes a deeper look, certain patterns and tendencies become apparent.  Many people gain weight after age 40, which is when medical science tells us that our metabolism starts to slow down and become less efficient.
     Also, many overweight people tend to gorge themselves and fill up on empty calories - sweets, chips, soda pop, and the like.  The reason they do this is that their inefficient pepsis, or digestion and metabolism, doesn't adequately extract the energy-giving nutrients from the healthy foods that they do eat.  They need that quick energy boost that empty calories provide.  And so, the poor pepsis theory starts to make sense.
     Each one of the Four Temperaments has innate predispositions towards certain imbalances of pepsis, or digestion and metabolism.  This gives each one of the Four Temperaments certain basic problems or challenges when it comes to the process of weight loss, or weight management.
     The basic rule in Greek Medicine when it comes to weight management is this:  Eat right for your temperament, or constitutional type.  The basic dietary guidelines for each of the Four Temperaments are given in the articles on managing each one of the Four Temperaments in this section.
     As each one of the Four Temperaments has a tendency to accumulate morbid excesses of its own dominant humor, a successful weight loss program must include avoiding foods that aggravate one's dominant humor(s), according to one's constitutional nature and temperament.  Lists of these humor-aggravating foods can be found in the article on Diet in the Hygiene section. 
     When it comes to weight loss, starvation diets offer no satisfactory, permanent solution, especially for those of a Phlegmatic temperament.  Severe caloric restriction causes the metabolism to slow down and go into low gear as a survival mechanism, and a Phlegmatic individual's metabolism is already too slow, anabolic and energy conserving as it is.
     In Greek Medicine, weight gain, or obesity, is basically a Wet condition, usually caused by the consumption of too many rich, moist, unctuous foods.  Phlegmatic and Sanguine individuals, whose constitutions have a predominance of these moist, flourishing humors, are the most prone to weight gain, which is basically a condition of flourishing too much.
     However, weight gain can happen to those of any temperament.  Generally, Phlegmatic individuals have the most problems with weight gain and obesity, followed by Sanguine and Choleric types, with those of a Melancholic temperament tending to be the most slender, although not immune from weight gain.
     Each of the Four Temperaments has its own particular metabolic imbalances to correct, and its own challenges and obstacles to overcome on the road back to their optimum weight.  More information on weight management for each of the Four Temperaments will be given in the relevant articles later on in this section, as it is an important health and therapeutic issue.
     In recent years, the Four Temperaments of Greek Medicine have become equated with certain glandular metabolic body types.  Certain doctors have come out with systems of weight loss diets according to these metabolic glandular types, with Dr. Abravanel becoming probably the best known among them. 
     The glandular metabolic body types associated with the Four Temperaments, named after their dominant endocrine gland, are as follows:
     Choleric -  Adrenal Type
     Sanguine -  Gonadal Type
or Pancreas Type
     Melancholic -  Thyroid Type
     Phlegmatic -  Pituitary Type

     Whatever your body type, you must learn to love the body you're in.  Because we each have our own individual makeup of constitutional nature and temperament, not everyone can be, or should be, equally slender or corpulent, as the case may be.  But all can be healthy, and free from morbidity and disease.
     Society sets forth certain arbitrary standards and ideals of beauty and slimness, especially for women.  Yet women's metabolisms, as Mother Nature designed them, are, on the average, more anabolic and energy-conserving than those of the male, due to her biological role in the gestation and nurturing of the offspring, and are therefore more naturally Phlegmatic in character and prone to weight gain.
     Our modern media and fashion trends have set virtually impossible standards of slimness for most women to maintain, but this was not always the case.  In ages past, in many cultures, a more voluptuous, full-figured, Reubenesque feminine form was admired.

Internet Resources

     For those wishing to study Hippocrates' system of dietary therapy and disease management in more detail, the Hippocratic classic, On Regimen in Acute Diseases, is available online in its entirety.  In it, you can learn more about ptisans and therapeutic drinks like hydromel and oxymel.  Just click on the link below:

     For those who are interested in learning more about Dr. Abravanel's Body Type Diet system, please visit the following site: