Alfredo Darrington Bowman
26 November 1933
|Died||6 August 2016 (aged 82)|
Barrio Ingles La Ceiba, Honduras
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Occupation||Herbalist, witch doctor|
Alfredo Darrington Bowman (26 November 1933 – 6 August 2016), better known as Dr. Sebi (//), was a Honduran self-proclaimed herbalist and healer, who also practiced in the United States for a period in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Bowman claimed to cure all disease with herbs and a vegan diet based on various pseudoscientific claims, and denied that HIV caused AIDS. He set up a treatment center in Honduras, then moved his practice to New York City and Los Angeles. Numerous entertainment and acting celebrities were among his clients, including Michael Jackson, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, and John Travolta.
Although he used the title and name Dr. Sebi, Bowman had not completed any formal medical training. He was considered a quack by licensed doctors, attorneys, and consumer protection agencies in the United States. He was arrested being accused by New York state of practicing medicine without a license. After trial, Bowman was acquitted based on the legal definition of "medicine" for his herbs. He was later charged in a civil suit that resulted in him being prohibited from making therapeutic claims for his supplements.
In May 2016, Bowman was arrested in Honduras for money laundering, after being found carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash with insufficient accounting for its origin. During several weeks' detention in jail, he contracted pneumonia. He died in police custody as he was being transported to a hospital.
Early years and career
Bowman was born in 1933 in Ilanga, Honduras. He first learned of herbal healing and related traditional practices from his grandmother; his grandfather originally from Haiti. Bowman who was of African descent, identified himself as an "African in Honduras", not as an African Honduran.
Bowman became dissatisfied with Western medical practices in treating his own illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, impotency and visual impairment and visited an herbalist in Mexico named Alfredo Cortez who confirmed to him that he was dying.
After that, Bowman began his own healing practice in Honduras. He developed a treatment that he called the "African Bio-Electric Cell Food Therapy", and claimed that it could cure a wide range of diseases, including cancer and AIDS, as well as a variety of chronic conditions and mental illnesses. He also developed related herbal products.
Bowman set up a center in the 1980s near La Ceiba, Honduras, and marketed his herbal products in the United States. He called his center the USHA Research Institute, as located in the village of Usha.
According to McGill University, Bowman's diet and food therapy was based on the discredited alkaline diet and showed a fundamental misunderstanding of genetics. His beliefs on the origin of disease denied germ theory and factored in faux-afrocentric claims about the unique genetic characteristics of Africans and their diaspora, which was referred to as "race pseudoscience" in a critical article published by McGill University.
In the early 1980s, AIDS had newly been recognized as a disease as an epidemic started in the United States, with numerous cases in New York and other major cities. Bowman claimed that HIV is not the cause of AIDS and used herbal remedies to treat people.
In 1987, Bowman was arrested and charged in New York with practicing medicine without a license. The jury acquitted him, saying the state had failed to prove he made a medical diagnosis. In the 1990s, he was sued in New York for making claims of therapeutic benefits for his products; as a result of the civil case, he was prohibited from making such claims. He relocated to Los Angeles, where he cultivated celebrities among his clients.
He gradually earned considerable revenue, more than $3000 a day, after giving advice and developing a wide range of celebrity clients, such as Lisa Lopes, Steven Seagal, John Travolta, Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson. He reportedly treated Jackson in 2004, before the latter went to trial.
Arrest and death controversy
On 28 May 2016, Bowman and his associate Pablo Medina Gamboa were arrested on charges of money laundering at the Juan Manuel Gálvez de Roatan Airport, after they were found to be carrying $37,000 in cash and had no explanation for it. They were attempting to transfer from a commercial flight from the United States to a private plane for another destination in Honduras.
Bowman was released pending a court hearing on 6 June 2016, but he was re-arrested by the Public Ministerio on money laundering charges. He was held for several weeks in a Honduran prison, while his family was attempting to obtain his release. He fell ill and, after police officials realized the severity of his condition, they transported him to a hospital. Bowman died of complications of pneumonia on 6 August 2016, en route to Hospital D'Antoni. The length of his time in custody and the poor condition of the jail may have contributed to his death.
Some of his followers question the circumstances of his arrest and death. They claim that there was a conspiracy to silence him because his teachings differed from the medical establishment and threatened the pharmaceutical industry.
In 1987, the New York State Attorney General charged Bowman with two counts of practicing medicine without a license after he placed ads in local newspapers claiming to be able to cure AIDS. The Attorney General's Office sent undercover agents to his office to gain diagnoses and treatments for purported symptoms of disease. Bowman was acquitted because jurors said the tape recorded by the agents failed to show that Bowman had made a medical diagnosis of their purported conditions.
In an effort to stop Bowman's false claims, the New York Assistant Attorney General for consumer fraud filed a civil suit against Bowman, his Ogun Herbal Research Institute, and other named businesses. It resulted in a consent agreement by which he was prohibited from making therapeutic claims for his products. He was also fined $900. The suit had ruled that the claims were unsubstantiated.
Alfredo Bowman and Dr. Sebi LLC v. Michael Jackson
In 2004, Bowman reportedly treated Michael Jackson prior to his being tried on counts of child abuse. Bowman claimed to have helped the singer overcome addiction to painkillers Demerol and morphine with his African Bio-Electric Cell Food Therapy. He worked with Jackson for six months at a retreat in Aspen, Colorado.
After Jackson's brother Randy paid Bowman $10,000, Bowman sued Michael Jackson for related costs, claiming that the singer owed him $380,000, and seeking an additional $600,000 in lost revenue for having deferred other clients and various speaking engagements. Raymone Bain, a publicist of Jackson, denied that her client received any "professional treatment" or that he had any painkiller addiction. The case was dismissed in 2015 for lack of prosecution.
- In 2018, African-American rapper Nipsey Hussle stated he was planning on creating a documentary about Bowman's successful defenses at his criminal trials. Hussle was later murdered in 2019 by a known acquaintance with whom Hussle had an altercation earlier on the same day, Eric Holder. Law enforcement have found no link between Hussle's death and Bowman. 
- Shah Be Allah (8 August 2016). "Dr. Sebi Dies In Police Custody In Honduras". The Source. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- "Alfredo Bowman, celebrity herbalist – obituary". The Telegraph. 23 August 2016. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- "Jacko Sees Witch Doctor". Standard. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
- "Jacko's New 'Doctor': No Scrubs, No Diploma". Fox News. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
- Patsy Bowman (2017). Holistic Healing. Trinidad & Tobago: Good Morning T&T. Archived from the original on 18 June 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2018 – via YouTube.
- "Conspiracy theories spread after Nipsey Hussle shooting". BBC News. 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2020-12-13.
- Barrett, Stephen. "A Skeptical Look at the Late "Dr. Sebi"". quackwatch.org. Archived from the original on 7 June 2019. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
- Dr. Sebi (2014). Andy B. (ed.). Conversation With Dr. Sebi, Speaks About Haitians and Haiti. La Cieba, Honduras: YouTube. Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- Aniys, Aqiyl, ed. (5 August 2018). "Dr. Sebi Started His Health Journey After Being Cured By A Mexican Herbalist". Retrieved 1 August 2020.
- Shah Be Allah (8 August 2016). "Famed Herbal Healer Dr Sebi 'Dies In Police Custody': The 83-year-old claimed to have a cure for AIDS and cancer along with a long list of other related cures". The Voice. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- Jarry, Jonathan. ""Dr." Sebi: What Do We Make of this Non-Doctor?". McGill Office for Science and Society. Archived from the original on 10 July 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
- Barnes, Mo, ed. (7 August 2016). "Famed healer Dr. Sebi dies after suspicious arrest and hospitalization". Rolling Out. Archived from the original on 8 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- Moor-X Bey-El, Israel, ed. (2015). I am Moor We R Moors. p. 56. ISBN 9780993390302. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 2016-08-09.
- Rowland, Robert J. (2009). From The Hood To The Holy Land And Back Plus More. p. 71. ISBN 9781462803279. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- Segal, Marian (1987). "Defrauding the Desperate: Quackery and AIDS". FDA Consumer. Vol. 21 no. 1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. p. 17. Retrieved 23 February 2021.
- Barnes, Mo, ed. (7 August 2016). "Famed healer Dr. Sebi dies after suspicious arrest and hospitalization". Rolling Out. Archived from the original on 26 February 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- EL' Zabar, Kai, ed. (15 August 2016). "No Mainstream Farewell for Dr. Sebi". Chicago Defender. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- Crockett Jr., Stephen A., ed. (11 August 2016). "5 Mysteries Surrounding the Life and Death of Dr. Sebi". The Root. Archived from the original on 21 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- "Chapter 8 Alfredo Bowman is Dr. Sebi The Healer". Sojourn to Honduras. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
- Jamison, Harold L (October 1, 1988). "Herbalist found not guilty in 'fake' healing case" (PDF). New York Amsterdam News. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-04-04. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- "Hearing on Dietary Supplements. Before the House Committee on Government Operations Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations, July 20, 1993" (PDF). Quackwatch.org. pp. 106–110. Archived (PDF) from the original on 10 May 2017.
- "Statement of Shirley Stark Assistant Attorney General of New York before the House Committee on Government Operations Subcommittee on Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations on Dietary Supplements" (PDF). Quackwatch.org. p. 108. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-08-16.
- "Supreme Court of the State of New York (New York County), Index No. 40396/87 (pg. 1-10), Filed June 28, 1988" (PDF). Casewatch.net. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
- Barrett, Stephen (M.D.), ed. (16 August 2016). "A Skeptical Look at the Late "Dr. Sebi"". Quack Watch. Archived from the original on 25 December 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- "Jackson sued by herbalist". The Namibian. 15 October 2004. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- Ryan, Joal, ed. (13 October 2004). "Michael Sued over Alleged Detox". E! News. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
- "Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles - Southwest Judicial District: Docket No. BC322867 (pg. 3), filed Oct 13, 2004" (PDF). Cdn.digitalcity.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 23, 2015. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
- AP Staff (2 April 2019). "Social media sleuths take on mysterious herbalist Dr. Sebi". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
- Williams, Brett, ed. (1991). "The Politics of culture". p. 148. Retrieved 9 August 2016.