Boenninghausen's Therapeutic Pocket Book

Boenninghausen's Therapeutic Pocket Book

  • Clemens von Boenninghausen
  • Timothy Field Allen - ed.




Edited by T.F. Allen, this work is often prized for its section on concordances; describing similarities between medicines. The current resurgence of interest in the Boenninghausen method has practitioners giving this gem a second look.
503 pp hb


The Therapeutic Pocket Book (For Homeopathic Physicians, to be Used at the Bedside of the Patient, and in Studying the Materia Medica Pura) by Clemens von Boenninghausen, was first published in 1846. T. F. Allen's translation came out in 1891.

This opus is the quintessential Boenninghausen, presenting his ideas in their most effective manner. He used 5 grades to differentiate symptoms in this repertory, from 'doubtful' to 'proving symptoms repeatedly verified'. Though extensively used by some of our most gifted practitioners-Lippe, Case, etc., others such as Kent disparaged its value.

In his Preface Boenninghausen says, "There is no doubt that a diligent and comprehensive study of the pure materia medica cannot be thoroughly accomplished by the use of any repertory whatever."

At the same time he recognized the need for a reference that contained the characteristic symptoms. Thus permitting the busy practitioner to select from the remedies generally indicated the one most homeopathically suitable, without too great a loss of time.

He felt that other repertories were incomplete due to the listing of partially complete symptoms. Body parts listed without sensation, omitted aggravations and ameliorations, the absence of concomitants, etc. Boenninghausen felt that the older repertories scattered symptoms among different rubrics making the comprehension of the totality difficult.

To remedy these identified defects he gathers together all the affected localities, all the sensations, all the aggravations and ameliorations, all the concomitants, each fitting into its own place in the case. This process creates the totality of the symptom ultimately ending with the selection of the appropriate remedy.

Dr. Clemens Von Boenninghausen, MD

(1785 - 1864)

Dr. Boenninghausen was born to one of the oldest noble families of Westphalia, Germany. His full name was Clemens Maria Franz Baron Von Boenninghausen. He was Baron by inheritance, a lawyer by profession, and an agriculturist by natural inclination. He held respected and responsible posts in Germany and enjoyed a life of position and influence.

As a Doctor of Law, Dr. Boenninghausen practiced as a lawyer for some time and later became a judge. Because of his interest in horticulture, he was made Director of Botanical Gardens at Munster. Here, he came to be known as the "Sage of Munster." It was in 1827 that he developed purulent tuberculosis.

When he did not find any relief from the best orthodox treatment, and the physicians gave no hope of his recovery, he wrote a letter to his friend, Dr. A. Weihe, expressing his hopelessness for life and bidding him his last goodbye. Dr. A. Weihe was a homoeopath and asked Boenninghausen to try homoeopathic treatment. Fortunately for Boenninghausen and for homoeopathy, Dr. Weihe cured him.

Being greatly impressed with his treatment Boenninghausen took deep interest in studying homoeopathy and devoted his remaining years to the cause of homoeopathy. During this time he maintained regular correspondence with Dr. Hahnemann. Most of his systematic works concerning homoeopathy were published between 1828 and 1846. He was a regular contributor of articles on homoeopathic subjects to the journals.

On account of Dr. Boenninghausen's great learning and practice, King Wilhem IV, in July 1843, issued a Cabinet Order bestowing upon him all the rights and immunities of a practicing physician. Boenninghausen died at the ripe age of 79 in 1864.

The outstanding contributions to the advancement of Homoeopathy by Boenninghausen were:

1. Classification of Characteristic Symptoms, and
2. Compilation of the First Repertory of Anti-Psoric Remedies.

Boenninghausen classified the characteristic symptoms into seven categories. They are:

1. Quis (Personality of the Patient)
2. Quid (Peculiarity of Complaints)
3. Ubi (Seat of Disease)
4. Quibus Auxilus (Concomitant Symptoms)
5. Cur (Causations)
6. Quamado (Modalities of Time)
7. Quando (Modalities of Circumstances).

The second task allotted to him by Hahnemann was to prepare a 'Repertory' to make it easier to choose the correct homoeopathic remedy. It was very difficult and time-consuming to select the simillimum from the vast 'Materia Medica', hence the idea of 'Repertory' was the only answer.

Boenninghausen knew about the Scheme of Hahnemann (the sequence in which the proved symptoms of homoeopathic remedies were arranged by Hahnemann). He knew all the proved anti-psoric remedies and their characteristic symptoms. Hence he was best fitted to compile the first 'Repertory'. Dr. Hahnemann used the 'Repertory' and found it very handy and useful.

The Whole Health Now website also includes the full text of Boenninghausen's article, "The Characteristic Value of Symptoms", translated in 1908 by Tafel.

Boenninghausen article

Another related article is this account of translating Boenninghausen's "Therapeutic Pocketbook" for RADAR Software.

Therapeutic Pocketbook


Dr. Timothy F. Allen, M.D.

(Apr 24, 1837 - Dec 5, 1902)

Timothy Field Allen was born in Westminster, Vermont. He received his undergraduate education at Amherst College and his medical degree from New York University.

After serving as a surgeon during the Civil War he returned to New York where he partnered with Dr. Carroll Dunham. He also studied homeopathy with Dr. P.P. Wells in Brooklyn.

In 1871 Dr. Allen was appointed professor of Materia Medica at the New York Homoeopathic Medical College. Later he served as president from 1882-1893. He obtained a $500,000 grant from Roswell P. Flower, which was used to build an addition to the college. This later became the Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital.

While professor and surgeon at New York Ophthalmic Hospital, Dr. Allen was responsible for its conversion to a homeopathic institution. He was also Director of a Homoeopathic Insane Asylum in Middletown, New York, which served as a research center for the homeopathic treatment of mental disease.

Dr. Allen compiled the Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica over the course of 10 years. It is a comprehensive record of all the provings of homeopathic medicines recorded up to that point.

The volumes were published between 1874 and 1879: Vol. 1 (Abies to Atropin), 1874; Vol. 2 (Aurum to Carduus), 1875; Vol. 3 (Carlsbad to Cubeba), 1876; Vols. 7 (Nicotinum to Plumbago), 8 (Plumbum to Serpentaria), 1878; Vols. 9 (Silica to Thuja), 10 (Tilia to Zizia), 1879.

Constantine Hering, Carroll Dunham, Adolph Lippe, and Richard Hughes all contributed to this monumental work (In a later four-page printing, publishing date unknown, Allen gave the number of the symptoms that had been clinically verified by Dunham). The volumes were offered by subscription. 500 subscriptions were obtained and paid in advance to assure each volume's publication.

For each remedy in the Encyclopedia the actual symptoms are preceded by a list of each prover, the dose they took, and the source of reference. Other sources of information, such as accidental poisonings, are also included.

The incomparable benefit of Allen's work is that the symptoms are recorded in the actual words of the prover. This averts the distortion of philosophical repertories such as Kent's, Synthesis, or the Complete, which fragment symptoms into separate parts and generalize specific symptoms.

Here is an excerpt from the famous proving symptom of Agaricus muscarius (as experienced by Krachemariskov), "He becomes so furious that he can hardly be restrained from ripping up his bowels, as he fancies the mushroom had ordered him to do."

In 1881 Allen published A Critical Revision of the Encyclopedia of Pure Materia Medica. It was a reprint of 16 pages from the North American Journal of Homeopathy. This small work is an errata for his larger work. It covers revisions to remedies from Agaricus to Carbo vegetalis. Dr. Allen published nothing similar for the rest of the remedies in the Encyclopedia.

Modern homeopaths consider Allen's Encyclopedia to be an essential reference. This wasn't always the case however. At the time of its publication, a review in the December 1879 Homeopathic Times, described the Encyclopedia as "Dr. Allen's gigantic and most discredible fiasco."

The review described the work as a

"...mass of trash, of wild vagaries, of symptoms which seem to have been gathered at random from every language under heaven, from every insane asylum in the land, and from nurseries where fond mothers take seriously to heart the symptoms and sayings of their young offspring."

"Mixed with all this trash, the trained searcher may possible find the real gems of our therapeutics, for they are there; but they are often so covered with what is perfectly worthless, that a special training is necessary to evolve them from the surrounding rubbish."

Allen supposedly claimed responsibility for all the translations from the original German, but in the reviewer's inspection of the Nux vomica chapter, several gross translation errors were found.

For example, a literal translation of Hahnemann reads: "She regards the present pain as intolerable." Allen translated it as: "The usual pain seems intolerable."

Hahnemann says: "After midnight, very violent palpitation with extreme anxiety which impels him to suicide." Allen translates this as: "Extreme anxiety with violent palpitation which impels him to suicide."

The reviewer comments: "...if we find a simple translation, from so important writer as Hahnemann, full of errors, what reliance can be placed on any of the editor's work?"

Julian Winston, who provides this commentary in The Heritage of Homoeopathic Literature, believes that the anonymous reviewer was probably Egbert Guernsey, one of the editors of the Journal.

Dr. Allen's other publications were Ophthalmic Therapeutics (1874), The Symptom Register (1880), Handbook of Materia Medica and Homeopathic Therapeutics (1889), A Primer of Materia Medica (1892), and Pocket Characteristics (1894).

In addition to his devotion to homeopathy, Dr. Allen was an accomplished musician and botanist. He served as organist for several local churches. He also was on the Board of Directors for the New York Botanical Gardens.

Dr. Allen dedicated 40 years of his life to the art and science of homeopathy. His legacy is preserved by our continuing reliance on his work.


Along with the German edition in 1846, there was also an English edition (translated by Stapf), and a French edition.

Several other editions were printed: 1847, translated by A. Howard Oke; Otis Clapp; 483 pages. 1847, translated by Charles J. Hempel; William Radde; 504 pages. 1891, edited by T.F. Allen, MD, Hahnemann Publishing House; 484 pages.

In 1846 Bonninghausen produced his Therapeutic Pocket Book. It served as the final synthesis for his ideas.

Five type faces were used to indicate the manner in which the remedies were encountered in the provings:

parentheses for those remedies which are doubtful;
symptom seen in a proving (plain);
symptom seen in several provings (italic);
symptom seen in provings and verified as cured (lower case bold);
symptom seen in provings and repeatedly verified (upper case bold).

Several translations were made of this work over the years, the most recent being the revision by Gypser and Dimitriadis in 2000.

Julian Winston writes:
It is THIS book that most people see as "Bonninghausen" and it is this book that Kent talked about when he said he didn't understand the method of Bonninghausen. It was never well explained except through the teaching that took place through preceptorships.

It was thought to be so valuable that Erastus Case, MD, copied one by hand when he could not find a copy for sale. It was more than a repertory-- it was a method. Bonninghausen was not only a lawyer, he was a botanist and taxonomist. He saw things in large generalities, and used this ability to synthesize several rubrics into a generality-- something Kent never quite understood.

As the title implies, the book was also intended to be used in the reverse as well-- as a guide to the study of the materia medica. With the recent revision in print, more people are beginning to understand and use the method with the book.

The Heritage of Homoeopathic Literature
copyright 2001 by Julian Winston
Reprinted with the permission of the author