Childhood Life and Education:
In his early childhood life, Boenninghausen constantly lived in the country, where his body was well developed by riding, swimming, hunting and similar bodily exercises, but his mind was only sparingly developed by his tutor. After attending the gymnasium at Münster for six years, where his progress was rapid, he entered the Dutch University of Groningen, where he spent three years, attending not only the judicial lectures but also lectures in natural history and medicine.
He graduated from the Dutch university at Groningen with the degree of Doctor of Civil and Criminal Law on August 30, 1806, and thereafter for several years he held influential and arduous positions at the court of Louis Napoleon, King of Holland, remaining in the Dutch Civil Service until the resignation of the king on July 1, 1810. In September, 1810, he returned to the paternal hearth, to devote himself to the study of agriculture and of the sciences more closely connected therewith, and especially to botany, which gradually became his favorite study.
He married in 1812 and removed to his hereditary estate of Darup. Through his interest in the development of agricultural resources he came in touch with the most prominent agriculturists of Germany, and he formed the first agricultural society in the western part of Germany. 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." In 1824 he became Director of the Botanical Gardens of Munster, retaining this position for several years, and received much distinction from his botanical writings.
Introduction to Homoeopathy:
In 1827 he suffered a derangement of health, which two of the most celebrated physicians obtainable declared to be purulent tuberculosis. His health continued to decline until the spring of 1828, when all hope of his recovery was given up. At this time he wrote a farewell letter to his close botanical friend, August Weihe, M. D., who was the first homoeopathic physician in the province of Rhineland and Westphalia, though Bœnninghausen was ignorant of the fact, their whole correspondence having touched on botanical, not medical, subjects. Weihe was deeply moved by the news and answered Bœnninghausen's letter immediately, requesting a detailed account of his symptoms and expressing the hope that by means of the newly found curative method he might be able to save a friend whom he valued so highly. In response to the reply which Bœnninghausen sent to this letter, Weihe sent some Pulsatilla which Bœnninghausen took according to the directions, following also the course of advice which Weihe gave him regarding hygienic measures? Bœnninghausen's recovery was gradual but constant, so that by the end of the summer he was considered as cured.
This event bred in Bœnninghausen a firm belief in Homoeopathy and he became an active promoter of Homoeopathy. He revived his former knowledge of medicine and began to practice. But he had no license to practice as a physician and for this reason he devoted himself to literary labors upon subjects connected with Homoeopathy. Most of the systematic works written by Bœnninghausen concerning Homoeopathy were published between 1828 and 1846. By this time Bœnninghausen's fame had spread to France, Holland and America, and he had gained many converts to the new doctrine of healing among physicians in these lands, by correspondence and literary efforts, which were extended in the effort of making the work of practicing homoeopathy easier.
Service in Homoeopathic field:
At this time, there was no short way to approach the study of homoeopathy. No repertories, except one in Latin by Samuel Hahnemann himself, had been published as an index to point the way to the indicated homoeopathic remedy, and many hours must have been devoted to the study of remedy after remedy before the true picture was seen. And he recognized the fact that the foundation of all true healing rests on an exact knowledge of the virtues of the medicines; he, therefore, made it his chief aim to discover the characteristics of the remedies and to place these side by side so that the investigator could without great loss of time either refresh his memory or find in the original sources what was need.
Having received a truly classic education, intimately familiar with the natural sciences, he found no difficulty in spite of his advanced age in acquiring the necessary medical knowledge to successfully begin the study of Homoeopathy. As in science so in general, he loved truth above all things; this shining pearl of his life was encircled by a rare honesty and gratefulness, amiability, and goodness of heart.
It was during the former period, from 1828 to 1843, that most of the systematic works, for which we are indebted to Boenninghausen, were composed and published.
From 1830 Bœnninghausen was in close touch with Hahnemann, until the close of Hahnemann's life, and as long as Bœnninghausen lived he kept in close touch with all those practicing homoeopathy. However, his literary work was much hampered by the permission to practice freely, and he did not publish his books as frequently after that event, although he spent much time at that labor. It is interesting to note that his earliest works found instant circulation among those interested in the new doctrine, and almost every practicing homoeopath had Bœnninghausen's works in his library. These were of a practical nature, designed to aid the student of materia medica and the physician at the bed-side. They were cordially received, were preferred by Hahnemann to all others, and were used by him to the time of his death.
King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, under date of July 11, 1843, issued to Bœnninghausen a document empowering him to practice medicine without any restraint
After the proclamation empowering him to practice medicine, Bœnninghausen founded the society for homoeopathic physicians in Westphalia in 1848 which flourished for many years. He also was made member of nearly all the existing homoeopathic societies; the Western Homoeopathic Medical College, in Cleveland (North America), in 1854, gave him an honorary diploma Medicinae Doctoris; the Emperor of France appointed him a Knight of the Legion of Honor on April 20, 1861.
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 Hahnemann, has left so deep an impress upon the literature of Homoeopathy, or has exerted so great an influence in favour of the Homoeopathy taught by Hahnemann, as Boenninghausen. His Therapeutic Pocket Book, first published in1846, 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 Homoeopathy. 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 Homoeopathist.
Bœnninghausen was a close friend of Adolph Lippe, and also of Carroll Dunham. Both of these men expressed their appreciation of the work Bœnninghausen had accomplished, in Vol. 4 of the American Homoeopathic Review
Of his seven sons the two eldest chose homoeopathic medicine as their profession, which was a great joy to him. The elder of these sons, Karl, born November 5th, 1826, practiced for a time in the neighborhood of his boyhood home, later going to Paris where he married the adopted daughter of Hahnemann's widow. He lived with Madame Hahnemann and her daughter, and had access to Hahnemann's library and manuscripts.
The second son Frederick (born April I4 th, 1828,) was at first determined to study law. The example of his brother, however, induced him to abandon this profession for that of medicine. He graduated as his brother had done, with great distinction, and received the degree of Doctor of Medicine with a license to practice from the University of Berlin. For some time he practiced in the allopathic hospitals in Berlin. Then he stayed at home for the purpose of watching the result of his father's practice, and of comparing these results with those with which he had become familiar earlier. His qualified and enthusiastic preference was given to Homoeopathy. After one year of careful study he engaged in general practice near Münster.
The outstanding contributions to the advancement of Homoeopathy by Boenninghausen were:
1. Classification of Characteristic Symptoms, and
Boenninghausen classified the characteristic symptoms into seven categories.
1. Quis (Personality of the Patient)
· 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. 1932.
· 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 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. 1935.
· Attempt at Showing the Relative Kinship of Homoeopathic 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.