Boenninghausen and Treatment of Composite Fevers

Composite fevers are situations where there are all kinds of combinations of heat, cold, shivering, shuddering, perspiration – with each remedy ringing its own characteristic changes on what pattern it will produce.  Each pattern is so individual in each case of sickness, or where epidemic looms, that these composite fever patterns can often unlock cases, point directly to the best prescription and achieve cure.  It is essential in such cases to get very specific information about what comes first and what comes after – is it heat first then chill? Chill, then heat, then perspiration?

Here are some of the composite fever rubrics that appear in the Therapeutic Pocketbook.  Click on the image to see the rubrics more clearly.  The first number appearing after each rubric is the symptom number in the P&W, and the second number is the number of remedies in that rubric.

composite rubrics

The following is a case presented by Boenninghausen in an address delivered  before the Meeting of the Homeopathic Physicians of Rhineland and Westphalia, at Dortmund, July 28, 1859.

The case concerned a merchant who had caught a cold while travelling, and after three months of allopathic care and worsening symptoms came for homoeopathic treatment.  His picture was as follows:

“For the last three or four weeks there has been a hollow, dry cough with hoarseness and much toughness in the larynx, most violent during night.

Constriction of the chest with stitches in the left side while lying on that side. Internal heat, without thirst. Severe exhausting perspiration.

Striking timidity. great drowsiness, but restless sleep, waking up frequently, while an internal anxiety prevents his going to sleep again. The face pale and collapsed, with a circumscribed redness of cheeks.

Pressure in the stomach after eating especially after eating, especially after milk, often with vomiting, first of ingesta and then of gall. Augmented, watery urine. Extraordinary emaciation.

He prefers warmth, and it agrees best with him. he feels better in moderate motion than in continuous rest. He had never been unwell much, and had never been actually sick He could take a deep breath without any trouble, and frequently he felt impelled thereto.”

Phosphorous was prescribed, and Boenninghausen relates how certain he was of the prescription, and how disappointed he was when he saw that there had been a worsening in the case with no improvement.  On re-taking the case and examining every symptom one by one, after checking that nothing was hindering cure, Boenninghausen found the following:

The mistake then appeared in the feverish symptoms, which were only superficially indicated, and which in the patient had an unusual and, therefore, unrecognized form, which was at the same time very characteristic.

For while sleeping he was suffering continually from  a dry, burning heat, which on his waking up immediately passed into a very profuse perspiration, which continued without interruption while he was awake, until he fell asleep again, when at once the dry heat reappeared.

Thus the conundrum was solved. This symptom is found only in Sambucus, while in Phosphorus just the opposite is found. Since all the other symptoms coincided my patient received at once a dose of the high potency I usually employ, and the result was then so complete that in two weeks he was freed from all his ailments and felt as well as ever before.”

5 responses to “Boenninghausen and Treatment of Composite Fevers

  1. Hi Vera excuse me what’s the rubric for: For while sleeping he was suffering continually from a dry, burning heat, which on his waking up immediately passed into a very profuse perspiration, which continued without interruption while he was awake, until he fell asleep again, when at once the dry heat reappeared.

    thanks Marco

    • Vera Resnick IHM DHom Med (Lic)

      Hi Marco,

      Thanks for your question. First of all, when looking at this symptom, the objective in repertorization is to find rubrics that will lead us to provings where we’ll see the symptom represented as closely as possible – either split up, or sometimes together almost exactly in the patient’s words. If you look in Hahnemann’s proving of Sambucus you’ll find several rubrics, including:
      114. Great perspiration, without thirst, when lying awake from 7 p.m. till 1 a.m.; the drops stood on his face and he also sweated all over; but after sleeping he was more hot than perspiring, but still without thirst.
      But to “reverse engineer” the Sambucus prescription, I put the remedy in the P&W reversed materia medica, and entered the word perspiration to find all the rubrics. I got the following:sambucus reverse MM
      That gives a starting point for some of the relevant rubrics. It’s definitely a worthwhile exercise to repertorise the entire case and examine the phosphorous and the sambucus prescriptions.

  2. Pingback: Repertorisation – are we relying on the dictionary instead of learning the language? | Vera Resnick. Homoeopathic Consultant I.H.M

  3. Dear Vera:

    Thanks for your interesting article.

    Dear Marco:

    The case presented by Boenninghausen finds its way in the TPB. We only have to focus to “Perpiration” complaint.

    Please see

    I reminded the advise given by Bönninghausen to Adolph Lippe.

    Lippe says:

    “Complaint has frequently been made that all the symptoms are not found in Bœnninghausen’s work. When in Europe, I had made this complaint to Bœnninghausen himself. I told Dr. Bœnninghausen that I had had a number of patients who complained of headache only when their hair had grown long, and which left them as soon as the hair was cut, and that this condition was not in his book. Bœnninghausen told me that I should look under the heading, “amelioration by uncovering the head.” Common sense and judgement are to be exercised in choosing a remedy.”

    Best regards.


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