Life Sketch - Dr Clemens Von Boenninghausen
NATIONAL JOURNAL HOMOEOPATHY 1993 Mar / Apr VOL II No 2.
Dr Vishpala Parthasarathy.
Baron Clemens Maria Franz Von Boenninghausen (1785-1864)
"There must be something in it". Initially we ask with incredulity, is there something in this Like Cures Like. In course of time we become convinced and enthusiastic. The history of homoeopathy abounds with such instances. This is often the first germ which breaks through the smooth surface of traditional conviction.
The narrative on this leaf from our past history, glitters with the glory of life, dedication and contributions to Homoeopathy of Dr. Clemens Maria Franz Von Boenninghausen, whom the ordains of destiny had imparted all virtues to be exceptional, excellent and high in whatever field of activities he had decided to take interest. Exactly a hundred and sixty years ago, Clemens Maria Franz Von Boenninghausen, the late Officer of Justice to his Royal Highness, Louis Napoleon of Holland, lay on his sick bed and the attending physicians did not know what to do with him. The disease they declared to be suppurative pthisis. Von Boenninghausen, hardly more than 40 years of age, suffered exceedingly and believed his death to be near. The doctors concurred. It may well be that the patient listened to the suggestion of his friend, the botanist and homoeopathic physician Dr. Weihe of Hervorden (Westphalia), because he was apathetically convinced he could not get worse any way and he might as well give those funny little pills a trial. The selection of the remedy was made on the basis of a report of his illness, which Von Boenninghausen himself had compiled in great detail and apparently with great accuracy because half a year later he was hale and hearty once more.
Boenninghausen told his allopathic doctors how his life was saved and generously offered the secret which would lead to similar success but was refused politely. The refusal of allopathic doctors strengthened Von Boenninghausens interest and made him determined to learn more abot this therapy which could pull him back to life, when others had given him up as lost.
The Ancestors and the Family
His father, Ludwig Ernest Von Boenninghausen, a lieutenant Colonel and Chamberlain of the Prince of Muenster and a Knight of the Dutch order, died on May 5th, 1812. His mother Theresia, who was the Baroness of Weichs on Wennea , died on April 7th 1812. He had five brothers and sisters, only one of whom was elder to him and one a half brother.
Birth and Childhood
In his early life, Boenninghausen lived in the country side and his body was well developed due to riding, swimming, hunting and other physical exercises, but his education could not develop in the same proportion.
After attending school for six years at Muenster, Boenninghausen, at the age of 18 years entered the Dutch University of Grooninge where he studied Law as well as Natural History and Medicine.
Louis Bonaparte, the King of Holland, appointed him as Auditor to the Privy Council. He was given the responsibilities of the Royal Librarian and Chief of the Topographical Bureau.
He married in the autumn of 1812. He wrote many articles for the famous journal of agriculture and botany- Maeglinsche Annalen. His article The Culture of Rye according to Twarf received wide acclaim. He was the founder of the Agricultural Society for the district of Muenster. In 1816 he was appointed as the president of the provincial Court of Justice for Westphalia district in Ooesfield and worked until 1822. He was honored by the botanists C Sprengel and Reichenbach. Sprengel in his book systema Vegetabilis (Vol III, Pg 245) and Reichenbach in his Uebers Des Gewaechsteiche, (Pg 197)) named a genus of plant after him. He was honoured by Honorary degrees from many respected societies.
His Conversion to Homoeopathy
In the fall of 1827, Boenninghausen became seriously ill and was diagnosed to be suffering from purulent tuberculosis, which took a serious turn by the spring of 1828. Boenninghausen wrote a farewell letter to his friend of Botany, Dr. Weihe requested an exact and detailed description of the disease and its concomitants and expressed the hope that he may get well. Boenninghausen compiled with the request. Weihe prescribed Pulsatilla for Boenninghausen who gradually recovered and by summer, he was cured of his ailment. This was the turning point of his life. Boenninghausen became a firm believer and ardent promoter of Homoeopathy and converted many others to Homoeopathy. By a Royal order dated 11th July 1843 of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, he was empowered to practice Medicine. Boenninghausen was in regular correspondence with Hahnemann and his disciples like Stapf, Gross, Muehlenbein and other Veterans of the old guard.
In 1848, he founded the Society of Homoeopathic Physicians of Westphalia and the Rhineland and started yearly assembly of Homoeopathic physicians of the region. He was honoured with membership of most of the existing homoeopathic societies. The Cleveland Homoeopathic Medical College (North America) made him Medicinae Doctoris by a diploma on 1st of March 1854. The Emperor of France appointed him a "Knight of the Legion of Honour" on April 20, 1861.
Boenninghausen remained physically and mentally active till his very old age. In the winter of 1862, he suffered from bronchial catarrh. He continued to attend to his afternoon calls. On January 22nd he completed his written work after a walk. On 24th January 1864, he suffered from a Stroke of apoplexy and paralysis of the left side and died on 26th January 1864 at 3:45 AM at the age of seventy eight years ten months and fourteen days. On his death, the obituary in Allgemeine Homoeopathische, Zeitung wrote :-
"Our science has lost in him one of the first leader, our journal one of its best co-labourers, the society of Physicians of the Rhineland and Westphalia, kits head and its pillar, our Central Society a much honoured member and we personally a faithful friend and loving teacher".
Homoeopathy in the family
Out of his seven sons, two followed his example. Karl (Born on 5th Nov 1826) started living in Paris and was married to the adopted daughter of Hahnemanns second wife Madam Melanie. He settled in Paris and practised Homoeopathy in conjunction with Madam Hahnemann. Boenninghausens second son, Freidrich (Born April 14 1828) adopted a legal career but after passing the first two state examinations, he began to study medicine at 27 years of age. After studying medicine for 4 years in Bonn and Berlin he settled in 1859 as an assistant to his father.
Therapeutic Pocket Book -was the result of his attempt to produce a concise, comprehensive index.
Between 1828 to 1846, rewrote in homoeopathic journals like Archiv Fuer Homoeopathische Heilkunst, allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung etc. Boenninghausen tells in his pocket book -"From one point of view the indicated conditions of aggravation or amelioration have a far more significant relation to the totality of the case and to its single symptoms than is usually supposed; they are never confined exclusively to one or another symptom but on the contrary, a correct choice of the suitable remedy depends very often chiefly upon them".
1831- The Cure if Cholera and its preventives.
1832- Repertory of the Antipsoric Medicines
1833- Summary view of the chief sphere of operation of the Antipsoric remedies and their Characteristic Peculiarities, as an appendix to the repertory.
Contributions to a knowledge of peculiarities of Homoeopathic remedies.
1834- Homoeopathy, a Manual for the non-medical public.
1835- Repertory of the non-Antipsoric remedies
1836- Attempt at showing the relative kinship of Homoeopathic medicines.
1845- Essay on the Homoeopathic treatment of Intermittent Fevers. (Translated by Charles Julius Hempel)
1846- Therapeutic Manual for Homoeopathic Physicians.
1847- Therapeutic Pocket Book for homoeopathist, to be used at the bedside of the patient and in the study of the Materia Medica (This book contains Concordances of Homoeopathic remedies)
1849- Brief instructions for non-physicians as to the preventions and cure of Cholera.
1853- The two sides of-the human body and relationship.
- The Homoeodomestic physicians in brief therapeutic diagnosis.
1854- The sides of the body and Drug affinities, Homoeopathic exercises
1860- The Homoeopathic treatment of Whooping cough in its various form.
1863- The Aphorisms of Hippocrates, with notes by a Homoeopath.
1873- Homoeopathic Therapies of intermittent and other fevers.
1891- Therapeutic Pocket book for Homoeopathic physicians, to use at the bedside and in the study of Materia Medica. A new American edition, by Timothy Field Allen where remedies were included. The index to this book was printed later and placed in the copies as they were sold.
1808- Lesser writings Pages 358, B & T. The Indian print of this book is available. It contains articles written by Boenninghausen and published in contemporary journals.