Summary of the Four Temperaments

Even Samuel Hahnneman, the father of homeopathy recognized the importance of type and related that it was important to know a person’s type to discover the different ways they would exhibit the same disease and the different ways they would react to similar medicines.

In his essay, ‘Suppression in the Four Hippocratic Temperaments’, Samuel Hahnemann observed that each type reacted differently to the medical suppression of rashes. Sanguine people would get piles, hemorrhoids colic and renal gravel after the suppression of an itch. Phlegmatic people would suffer from dropsy and delayed menses in consequence of such suppressions and melancholic people would become mentally imbalance or sterile by a suppression He stated that “Each innate constitutional temperament has its own unique reactions to stimuli. For this reasons the same pathogen will affect the 4 temperaments and their 12 mixtures in a different manner. For example, the phlegmatic and melancholic temperaments are usually aggravated by cold while the choleric and sanguine temperament are usually ameliorated by cold.”

The Sanguine element as a physiological trait provides motive energy of the body and stimulates the logical faculty through the veins and arteries. Signs excess sanguine humor are usually displayed in terms of the circulatory system. A person having excess sanguine or a sanguine person may observe that their veins are bigger (or at least appear so), and fuller than ordinary, their skin is red, they may have pricking pains in the sides, and about the temples they may sometimes experience shortness of breath or headache and may have thick, colored urine. Practitioners have observed over time that many sanguines posses all or some of the following qualities: ruddy, smooth, firm, moist and warm skin, dark brown or fair hair, hairy body, medium stature, muscular body build, a good appetite, quick and good digestion, light yellow urine, brown firm faeces, happy dreams and happiness. Sanguines typically would “eat everything in sight” and in a restaurant they enjoy talking so much that they almost never look at a menu until the waitress arrives. Sanguine types are often light footed and rhythmical much like their counterpart, the circulation system. They usually have expressive faces and “sparkling eyes” and may often have curly hair, rather than straight hair. The sanguine will be most extreme or imbalance in Spring or Summer or when exposed to wind or heat (going out in the heat to shop, or leaving the car window open when driving, etc…) and after eating sour, greasy and spicy foods . Any sort of stimulants such as sugar, coffee, drugs (even prescription) and in some cases wheat and meat products are dangerous to the sanguine type. Sanguine types or people with excess sanguine condition should eat greens daily in the form of swiss chard, parsley, mint, coriander, chives, argula (jarjir), rigla, dark greens, and lettuce (dark green) and avoid rich or sugary foods. Sanguine types tend towards yeast infections, fatigue and high nervous system stress because they usually are “abusers” of stimulants, especially sugar and bread. They find that sugar offers a temporary relief during their low cycles and that bread offers comfort during their high energy cycles (it slows and cools them down) so they use these substances constantly in a subconscious effort to balance themselves. When a sanguine person learns to balance without abusing food and to eat more balancing foods in general they will become more balanced themselves and usually have less struggle with the yeast infections and other illness. When a sanguine person is acting dreamy or “not there” check their sugar consumption or blood sugar levels . An excess of sanguine in general can be corrected by consumption of all foods and herbs that are “cold”, by lemon juice, oxymel, or cooling activities such as yoga, meditation or reading. Donating blood can also be beneficial for this type.

The Phlegmatic element as a physiological aspect of man has expelling properties and functions to expel substances not required by the body. This role of phlegm in the body is famous during boughts with the cold and flu, when copious amounts of it are expelled by the body through the nose in an attempt to clear out toxins and bacteria. The phlegmatic humor has a beneficial cooling and moistening effect on the heart and strengthens the function of the lower brain and the emotions. Phlegm maintains proper fat metabolism and the balance of body fluids, electrolytes and hormones through the circulation of lymph and moisture in the same way the sanguine or blood provides nutrition through the circulation system. The receptacle for the phlegm humor is the lungs. Signs of excess phlegm in the system can be exhibited by sleepiness, dullness, slowness, heaviness, cowardliness, forgetfulness, much spitting, runny nose, little appetite to meat, bad digestion, and white and cold skin. Many practitioners have observed that the phlegmatic types often possess many of the following qualities: pale, smooth, soft, cold and moist skin, dark blond or blond hair, hairless bodies, shortness of stature, flabby and fat body build, poor appetites, slow or weak digestion, thin and pale urine, pale and loose faeces, dreams of water and the emotion of apathy. At the dinner table, phlegmatic types are the most deliberate eaters of all and are invariably the last ones through eating. This can mean that they gain weight easily because they stay too long at the table. Phlegmatic types often complain of soreness and pain in the lumbar region, loose teeth, deafness and/or tinnitus, thinning and loss of head hair, weakness and pain in the ankles, knees and hips, weakness in hearing and vision, impotence, infertility, miscarriage and genetic impairments. They may also exhibit disorders of growth and development, including problems of fertility, conception and pregnancy. Phlegmatic types may have disorders of the central nervous system (MS, Muscular dystrophy, or cerebal palsy) , diseases of the spinal column, bones, teeth and joints, and disorders of fluid metabolism. Phlegmatics can be balanced in general by keeping away from phlegm inducing foods such as milk, wheat and sweets, eating more heating foods and engaging in more heating activities. They are benefited by the herbs anise, cinnamon, valerian root, fenugreek, cardamom, garlic, and ginger.

The Choleric element is closely associated with the nervous system and acts to increase its rate of function. The choleric element has a warming effect on the body and stimulates the intellect and increases physical and mental activity and courage. Its receptacle is the gall bladder. Signs of excess choleric element are: leanness of body, hollow eyes, anger without a cause, a testy disposition, yellowness of the skin, bitterness in the throat, pricking pains in the head, a swifter and stronger pulse than usual, troublesome sleeps, and dreams of fire, lightning, anger and/or fighting. Practitioners have also observed that choleric also posses many of the following qualities: yellow, rough, warm and dry skin, dark brown or red hair, very hairy bodies, short stature, a lean body build, a strong appetite, overactive digestion, orange and thick urine, and dry and yellow faeces. At the dinner table cholerics seldom vary their menu from one day to another and when the food arrives, they bolt it down in big chunks, often talking while chewing their food. The choleric type may experience problems with anxiety, agitation, and frenzy and may frequently suffer from nervous exhaustion and insomnia. They may also have palpitations, hypoglycemia , rashes or palsy or strokes. They have a tendency to migrate to mind-altering substances (anything from coffee to chocolate or alcohol and illegal or prescription drugs) and they typically have problems with disturbed sleep, bed- wetting as a child, disturbances of the heart, disturbances of speech or sensation, and blood pressure and circulation problems. Cholerics need to eat foods that moisturize and cool. Good things for the choleric are: juicy fruits and vegetables, warm soups, and adequate liquid intake , denser root vegetables, sea vegetables, legumes, and fish protein. Raw and cooked foods can be used to balance the choleric’s states of hyper- and hypo activity. Warm, cooked foods can stimulate the choleric when they are slowed down and tired, and cool, raw foods can cool her down when they are overexcited. Cholerics should rarely use ice cream, spicy condiments, yogurt, and icy drinks. Adult cholerics need to avoid overindulging in curry, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, tea, chili, and salt. Choleric children need to avoid colas, sugar and processed foods.

The Melancholic element in the body consists of a cool and thick earthly aspect which is prone to coagulation and a more fluid, vaporous substance. In normal quantities the element of melancholy stimulates memory and makes the nature of a person homely, practical, pragmatic and studious. However, the coldest part of the melancholic element is adherent and if not eliminated properly, can settle on or in tissues and form tumors. The spleen removes the melancholer from the blood and body fluids and is the receptacle of melancholer. Signs of excess melancholy element are fearfulness without a cause, fearful and foolish imagination, skin rough and swarthy skin, leanness, want of sleep, frightful dreams, sourness in the throat, weak pulse, solitariness, thin clear urine, and sighing. Practitioners have also observed that melancholic types may often display the following characteristics: brown, rough, dry, cold skin, dark brown or black hair, balding hair, medium build, slim body build, large appetite, slow digestion, thick, pale urine, dry and black faeces, nightmares, and the emotion of worry or grief. At the dinner table melancholics are very picky eaters. It takes them forever to make up their minds about what to order, but once it arrives they savor every bite. Melancholics tend to drag their feet and use their body as if it were a burden to them and may often experience major physical pain from even the most minor if injuries. The most effective therapies for the melancholic excess or the melancholic ailments involve purging or fasting through use of cleansing fasts or herbs such as senna pods (always use with cinnamon or cumin and at most one cup a month). Warming foods, activities and herbs are good for this type.

A simpler method of balancing the types can be followed by combining food properly according to its cold or hot attributes. In the time of the prophet, it was common to combine foods in certain ways according to their properties. In fact, healing and health maintenance can be achieved to a large degree through the simple observation of excess heat or cold in a person. In general you can observe excess heat (the sanguine or choleric element) in a person by noticing that they have a high fever, they feel hot, they are easily fatigued, they have excessive thirst, they have a bitter or burning sensation in their mouth, they cannot tolerate hot foods, they enjoy using cold foods and things, and they suffer more in the Summer or suffer greatly from inflammatory conditions.

If there is an access of this heat in a person or they are naturally sanguine or choleric they would do best on cooler foods such as beef, fish, cow’s milk, butter, goat’s milk, cheeses, buttermilk, lettuce, celery, sprouts, zucchini. tomato, turnip, cabbage, okra, broccoli, white and sweet potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples, melons, pears, figs, apricots, oranges, brown rice, barley, lentils, sunflower oil, green tea, coffee, dill, thyme, rose, vinegar, sour things, and water. They are advised to eat very few or no nuts and seeds. They should also engage in “cooling” activities such as praying, meditating, yoga, tai chi, resting, sitting or reading. You can observe an excess of cold (the phlegmatic or melancholic element) in a person if they complain of weak digestion, lack of thirst, and catarrhal conditions. A person with an excess of cold will report that they suffer most in the Winter and cold things in general upset them. If there is an access of cold in a person or a person is naturally phlegmatic or melancholic they would do best with warming foods such as lamb, liver, chicken, goose, duck, eggs , cream cheese, cream, ghee, beets, radishes, onion, mustard greens, leeks, eggplants, red peppers, chick peas, green peppers, turnip, parsley, peaches, plums, limes, lemons, bananas, raisins, dates, figs, olives, dried fruits, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, wheat, thin-grain rice, basmati rice, sesame oil, black tea, basil, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, garlic, ginger, mint, honey, anise seed, and curry powder. People with excess cold often do better with sweets or modern medicine than the other types, who often react badly to them. Phlegmatics or melancholics should also involve themselves in more heating activities such as running, walking, intense exercising, and intense conversations and activities.

Kristie offers personal consulting sessions HERE, a class called Temperaments & Typology HERE and her popular book, “The Temperaments and the Adult-Child Relationship” HERE

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