Astrology in Medieval Medicine

Astrology in Medieval Medicine Social Studies Medicine Medieval Times World History

During the Middle Ages, medical students studied astrology because of its relationship to medicine (and the accompanying beliefs about medical prognosis). Frequently, treatment protocols were developed with astrological input.

People thought that the movement of the heavens influenced weather. Because that was so, they also believed a similar relationship existed between the heavens and the human body. Each part of the bodym therefore, was associated with an astrological sign.

Medieval books of medicine contained drawings of a "Zodiac Man."  The image would help to remind practicing physicians which astrological signs had influence over which part of the body. Timing of treatment would coincide with the astrological signs.

Aries, for example, governed a person's head while Sagittarius was in charge of thighs and Pisces ruled feet.  Applying these principles, doctors would determine that it was not a good idea to treat a person's head during the month of March.

Bloodletting (and there was a lot of that) was a medical treatment designed to rebalance bodily humours.  The procedure (believe it or not) was regulated by the Moon's position. 

If, for example, the Moon was in that part of the zodiac which governed a particular part of the body, bloodletting would be avoided.  The reason for that belief?  The attraction of the Moon, to that part of the body, could cause excessive bleeding.

This image depicts a "Zodiac Man" and his relationship to medicine. Click on it for a full-page view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Dec 14, 2018

Media Credits

Library of Congress.

Image from Aristotle's Compleat (sic) Master Piece: In Three parts: Displaying the Secrets of Nature in the Generation of Man ... To Which is Added, a Treasure of Health; or, The Family Physician ...


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