Clemens Maria Franz von Bönninghausen

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Clemens Maria Franz Freiherr (Baron) von Bönninghausen (12 March 1785 - 26 January 1864) was a lawyer, agriculturalist and botanist, who also practised and researched homeopathy.

Born in Herinckhave in the province of Overijssel in the Netherlands, into an old titled Westphalian family, he attended school in Münster, Germany before graduating in law from the University of Groningen in 1806. He held various legal positions in the Dutch Civil Service under Louis Napoleon, King of Holland, until the latter's forced abdication in 1810.

Bönninghausen then left the Civil Service, returning to his family estates in Prussia. He devoted himself to the study of agriculture and botany, publishing widely, and was appointed Director of the Botanical Gardens in Münster from 1826-1845.

An intractable lung disease in 1827 was cured by a colleague who had begun to practise homeopathy, and Bönninghausen became a convert to the new therapy. He became a close associate and confidant of Samuel Hahnemann, who admired Bönninghausen's ability to systematize the expanding homeopathic knowledge of materia medica. Bönninghausen's Therapeutic Pocketbook of 1846 was the first homeopathic repertory to grade individual remedies (125 in number) by their strength of relationship with each symptom, and each other, and has remained in use until the present day. He proposed that disparate symptoms associated with a remedy could be grouped as a single overarching tendency, hence the importance of generalities and modalities in his system of case analysis. According to Winston (2001), the method was never fully explained in writing by Bönninghausen, and misunderstood by later homeopaths such as J.T. Kent, although recent translations and revisions point to a revival of interest in Bönninghausen's approach. An early advocate of high potencies, he conducted a successful prospective trial of 200C in domestic animals and livestock, reasoning that veterinary homeopathy was harder to dismiss as a placebo effect.

Practising homeopathy on a small scale without a medical degree, Bönninghausen eventually received a special physician's licence to practise from Frederick William IV, King of Prussia in 1843. As his clientele grew, he saw some notable patients, one of the first being the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.

A memorial to Bönninghausen was installed in the Münster University Botanic Garden in 2005.


  • C. von Bönninghausen. Therapeutische Taschenbuch [Therapeutic Pocketbook]. Münster, 1846
  • Bönninghausens Kleine medizinische Schriften [Lesser Medical Writings] (ed. Klaus H. Gypser). Heidelberg, 1984 ISBN: 3920042131
  • Friedländer, E., "Bönninghausen, Clemens Maria Franz von", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, 1876;v.3:131-2.
  • Gijswijt-Hofstra M. Homeopathy's early Dutch conquests: the Rotterdam clientele of Clemens von Bönninghausen in the 1840s and 1850s. "Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences". 1996;51:155-83.
  • Kottwitz, F. Bönninghausens Leben: Hahnemanns Lieblingsschüler [Bönninghausen's Life: Hahnemann's Favourite Student]. Berg am Starnberger See, 1985 ISBN: 3039500163
  • Stahl, M. (editor). Der Briefwechsel zwischen Samuel Hahnemann und Clemens von Bönninghausen [Correspondence between Hahnemann and Bönninghausen]. Heidelberg: Haug; 1997.
  • Westfälischen Nachrichten. Unbekannter Prophet im eigenen Lande [Prophet without honour in his own land]. 3 October 2005
  • Wiermann, R. Der Botanische Garten der Universität Münster [Münster University Botanic Garden]. Münster, 2003 ISBN: 3784332188
  • Julian Winston. The Heritage of Homeopathic Literature. Tawa, NZ, 2001

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