For hundreds of years medical practitioners were obsessed with “evil humors.”
What are evil humors?
Humoral theory, also known as humorism or the theory of the four humours, was a model for the workings of the human body. It was systemised in Ancient Greece, although its origins may go back further still. The theory was central to the teachings of Hippocrates and Galen and it became the dominant theory in Europe for many centuries. It remained a major influence on medical practice and teaching until well into the 1800s.
Detoxing is the new bloodletting.
Evil humors were believed to be invisible. They constantly threatened people, and those people had no way of fending off the threat. Indeed, they were often completely unaware of the threat that was actively harming them. Practioners hypothesized that illness was the physical manifestation of evil humors that were out of balance.
The treatments for disease within humoral theory were concerned with restoring balance. These could be relatively benign and focused on changes in dietary habits, exercise and herbal medicines. But other treatments could involve more aggressive attempts to re-establish balance. As well as having the body purged with laxatives and emetics, or the skin blistered with hot iron, individuals already weakened by disease might be subjected to bloodletting because practitioners mistakenly believed that their bodies contained an excess of blood.
The theory of evil humors was thoroughly discredited centuries ago, but health quacks like Vani Hari, The Food Babe, continued to use them as the basis of their health advice. Vani doesn’t call them “evil humors” thought she calls them “toxins,” but the resemblance is unmistakable. They are invisible, constantly threatening people and supposedly, most people are unaware of the threat.
Since toxins are evil humors, Vani offers the modern day equivalent of treatments designed to restore balance. Chief among them are “de-toxifying” foods, drinks, enemas and cleanses.
Apparently someone pointed out to Vani that the body has two organ systems designed specifically to handle toxins, the liver and the kidneys. There is no need to anyone to use de-toxifying treatments because blood flowing through the liver and kidneys ARE de-toxifying treatments.
When the evil humors theory of disease was discredited, it’s purveyors were recognized as laughingstocks and were forced out of business. If the toxins theory of disease is discredited, Vani will be recognized as the laughingstock that she is and forced out of business.
She’s not taking it lying down.
Hence Vani’s latest post Does Your Body Cleanse Itself? Is Detoxing Really A Myth?
The scientific answers are yes and yes. Your body cleanses itself and detoxing is a myth.
But not according to Vani:
But what if I didn’t do anything to change my diet? What if I just believed the “experts” who said your body “detoxes naturally” – and there’s nothing you can do to make it detox any faster or better. What if I just listened to their advice and trusted that my body was going to be able to continue to detox itself just fine from all the soda, fast food and candy I was eating filled with a slew of controversial synthetic additives, pesticides and plasticizer chemicals from the packaging material – not to mention the daily exposure of suspect chemicals in water, air and the environment I was being exposed to … ?
Toxins are invisible … just like evil humors!
One thing is clear, we might not be able to see toxins, but they are there!
They’re everywhere … just like evil humors!
Many of them come from pesticide-sprayed food, farmed fish, and food packaging materials. Besides the food we eat, everyday items like shampoo, household cleaners, plastic bottles, clothing, furniture, water, and even the air we breathe are all possible sources of toxin exposure. It has been estimated that the average person could be harboring about 500 synthetic chemicals in their bodies, and one study found that unborn babies had over 200 toxins in their umbilical cord blood – this amount of toxins is no joke!
Your body can’t handle them … just like evil humors!
The problem is that your body can’t easily eliminate many of these toxins or break them down. They get stored in places like fat tissue and eventually make their way through your bloodstream and invade your brain, lungs, heart, eyes, stomach, liver, and sexual organs.
But don’t worry. You can treat them with special foods, laxatives and cleanses … just like evil humors!
For people who didn’t understand physiology, biochemistry and pathology, evil humors as a cause of illness made a lot of sense. They thought that people got sick because they couldn’t properly handle their humors. For people like Vani who don’t understand physiology, biochemistry and pathology, toxins as a cause of illness makes a lot of sense. She thinks people get sick because they can’t handle toxins.
Medical practitioners who worked prior to the advent of modern medicine were ignorant, but they were doing the best they could with the information they had available. Vani Hari is ignorant, but she has no excuse. The truth about human physiology is available to anyone who chooses to learn it.
Detoxing is the new bloodletting. Only a fool would think it prevents or treats illness.