Clemens Maria Franz von Bönninghausen

Clemens Maria Franz von Bönninghausen (1785 – 1864)

Clemens Maria Franz von Bönninghausen (12 March 1785 – 26 January 1864) was a German aristocrat, lawyer and agriculturalist who became a student of Samuel Hahnemann when his friend and colleague, the botanist and homeopath Carl Ernst August Weihe (1779 – 1834), cured him of tuberculosis, after his allopathic doctors had given up on him.

Boenninghausen began practicing as a veterinary homeopath before he began treating people, and he became a lay practitioner, and he was the homeopath of Eugenie de Montijo, the wife of Napoleon III.

In 1843, Boenninghausen was allowed to practice homeopathy by Royal Decree of Frederick William IV of Prussia.

Boenninghausen‘s eldest son Karl was also a homeopath, and he married Sophie, the adopted daughter of Mélanie Hahnemann (1800 – 1878). Another son, Friedrich Paul (1828 – 1910) was also a homeopath.

One of the most noteworthy of the early practitioners of Homeopathy was Clemens Maria Franz, Baron von Boenninghausen, who was born on March 12, 1785, on the ancestral estate of Heringhaven in Overyssel in the Netherland. His family was of the oldest nobility of Westphalia.

At the age of twelve years he entered the high school at Munster, remaining for six years, when he entered the Dutch University of Groningen, where for three years he attended the lectures upon law, natural history and medicine. He received the degree of Doctor utrinsque juris on August 30, 1806, and in October of the same year was appointed lawyer at the Supreme Court at Deventer.

In 1807 he accompanied his father who went as Electoral Representative from Overyssel to Utrecht to the Court of Louis Napoleon. He was made Auditor of the Privy Council and within a year Auditor to the King and a fortnight afterwards Secretary General. He was also appointed Royal Librarian and Chief of the Topographical Bureau.

He remained in Holland until the resignation of the King on July 1, 1810. He then returned to his home and devoted himself to the study of agriculture and botany. He married in 1812 and removed to his hereditary estate of Darup.

He soon entered into correspondence with the most prominent agriculturists of Germany and published several pamphlets upon agriculture. He was instrumental also in establishing the Agricultural Society for the District of Munster. In 1816 he became President of the Provincial Court of Justice for Westphalia in Coesfield, which position he retained until 1822.

About this time he became one of the Commissioners for the registration of lands and his constant travels gave him ample opportunity to study the Flora of Rhineland and Westphalia and he published a book on the subject: Prodromus Florae Monasteriensis.

He became Director of the Botanical Gardens of Munster, retaining this position for several years, and received much distinction from his botanical writings.

In 1827 a serious derangement of his health occurred and two celebrated physicians decided that he had purulent tuberculosis. In 1828, when all hopes of recovery had been abandoned, he wrote a letter of farewell to an old botanical friend, Carl Ernst August Weihe of Hervorden, who was the first homeopathic physician in the provinces of Rhineland and Westphalia, though Boenninghausen had only known him as an enthusiastic botanist.

Carl Ernst August Weihe, distressed at the news, wrote asking for a detailed description of the disease and expressed a hope that he might by means of a newly discovered method in medicine be able to cure his friend, Boenninghausen.

Under Dr. Weihe’s treatment Boenninghausen was entirely cured and became not only a firm believer in Homeopathy, but its active missionary. He revived his former knowledge of medicine and began to practise. But he had no license to practise as a physician and for this reason he devoted himself to literary labors upon subjects connected with Homeopathy.

Most of the systematic works written by Boenninghausen concerning Homeopathy were published between 1828 and 1846. He was at this time a constant contributor to the Archiv fur Homeopathische Heilkunst and the Allgemeine Homeopathische Zeitung.

On account of his great learning King Wilhelm IV, on July 11, 1843, issued a Cabinet order bestowing upon Boenninghausen all the rights and immunities of a practising physician.

Boenninghausen was a valued correspondent with Samuel Hahnemann, John Ernst Stapf, Gustav Wilhelm Gross, Georg August Heinrich Muhlenbein, Carl Ernst August Weihe and other notables of the homeopathic school and was held in high esteem by all of them.

In 1848 he was largely instrumental in establishing the Homeopathic Society of Rhineland and Westphalia. He also was made member of nearly all the existing homeopathic societies; the Western Homeopathic Medical College, in Cleveland, in 1854, gave him an honorary diploma; the Emperor of France appointed him a Knight of the Legion of Honor on April 20, 1861. He had seven sons, the elder of whom married the adopted daughter of Melanie Hahnemann.

Boenninghausen for many years lived in Munster. He received patients daily from nine to two o’clock, from two to five he spent in walking about the suburbs and in the Botanical Gardens. He lived to attain the age of seventy nine years, dying of apoplexy on January 26, 1864.

No one man, except Samuel Hahnemann, has left so deep an impress upon the literature of Homeopathy, or has exerted so great an influence in flavour of the Homeopathy taught by Samuel Hahnemann, as Boenninghausen.

His Therapeutic Pocket Book, first published in 1846, has been a guide to many, and other of the works of his scholarly pen have also been held in demand by the believers in pure Homeopathy. He devoted himself especially to presenting the Materia Medica so that the chief characteristics of each remedy might be thoroughly understood by the practitioner and his writings are mostly devoted to that object.

The great literary work of his life was probably his editorship of the Aphorisms of Hippocrates with the Glosses of a Homeopathist, which was published in 1863.

Boenninghausen adopted and practiced the three precautionary rules as laid down by Samuel Hahnemann in his practice, and his success in practice, his lucid exposition of homeopathic Materia Medica and the integrity of his writings have endeared him to all who believe that the law of the similars is the real law by which the sick can be made well.

Select Publications:

  • The Cure of Cholera and Its Preventatives (according to Hahnemann’s latest communication to the author) (1831).
  • Repertory of the Antipsoric Medicines, with a preface by Hahnemann (1832).
  • Summary View of the Chief Sphere of Operation of the Antipsoric Remedies and of their Characteristic Peculiarities, as an Appendix to their Repertory (1833).
  • An Attempt at a Homoeopathic Therapy of Intermittent Fever (1833).
  • Contributions to a Knowledge of the Peculiarities of Homoeopathic Remedies (1833).
  • Homoeopathic Diet and a Complete Image of a Disease. (For the non-professional public.) (1833).
  • Homoeopathy, a Manual for the Non-Medical Public (1834).
  • Repertory of the Medicines which are not Antipsoric (1835).
  • Attempt at Showing the Relative Kinship of Homoepathic Medicines (1836).
  • Therapeutic Manual for Homoeopathic Physicians, for use at the sickbed and in the study of the Materia Medica Pura (1846).
  • Brief Instructions for Non-Physicians as to the Prevention and Cure of Cholera (1849).
  • The Two Sides of the Human Body and -Relationships. Homoeopathic Studies (1853).
  • The Hom. Domestic Physician in Brief Therapeutic Diagnoses. An Attempt (1853).
  • The Homoeopathic Treatment of Whooping Cough in its Various Forms (1860).
  • The Aphorisms of Hippocrates, with Notes by a Homoeopath (1863).
  • Attempt at a Homoeopathic Therapy of Intermittent and Other Fevers, especially for would be homoeopaths. Second augmented and revised edition. Part 1. The Pyrexy (1864).

Of interest:

Prologue of The Bönninghausen Repertory by George Dimitriadis.