The Story of Carl Baunscheidt and his Lebenswecker

This somewhat sinister-looking invention was first introduced in 1847, and was used as a way to relieve pain, irritation, and disease. The device was spring-loaded, and the needles on the end would be dipped in a counter-irritant oil before puncturing the skin. A rash would then appear on the skin and its blisters would drain, which was believed to be a sign that the disease-causing agents were leaving the body. Additionally, the inflammation caused by the lebenswecker (meaning “life awakener”) was said to draw the body’s attention away from illness, and thus help the patient heal faster. Baunscheidt’s lebenswecker was so popular that many counterfeits were produced, though Baunscheidt’s methods were being questioned at least by the 1880s.⁠

As for the inventor himself, Carl Baunschiedt was born in Germany on December 16th, 1809, and began his career selling agricultural equipment and some of his own inventions, including a breast pump and a rifle sight. After developing an artificial leech in 1847, he created his lebenswecker and subsequently had his own brand of homeopathy, “Baunscheidtism,” named after him. ⁠

Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker – Museum of Health Care 1969.283.1 a-d
Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker – Museum of Health Care 1930.5.1 a-d

His lebenswecker was said to cure all kinds of diseases through this type of therapy, including baldness, mental disorders, and whooping cough. Even after Baunscheidt’s death on October 1st, 1873, his therapies were being practiced and his invention used into the early 1900s.⁠

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Shaelyn Ryan <br>(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)
Shaelyn Ryan
(Collections Technician/Assistant 2022)

Shaelyn Ryan is a recent graduate of Queen’s University, having completed her Bachelor’s degree in History in 2021, and is returning to Queen’s in the fall to pursue a Master’s degree in History. Either as a Summer Student or Work-Study Student through Queen’s University, Shaelyn has helped catalogue and research many of the museum’s collection of artefacts as a Collections Technician (since 2018). 

One thought on “The Story of Carl Baunscheidt and his Lebenswecker

  1. For more details, see:
    Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2007). A Baunscheidt Homeopathic Medicine Kit in the Jindera Pioneer Museum. Studies in German Colonial Heritage. Nº 4. Albury: HeritageFutures International.’ doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.1308.6883.

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