Alfredo Darrington Bowman widely referred to as Dr. Sebi was a Honduran herbalist and self-proclaimed healer, who practiced herbalism in the United States for a period in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Bowman herbals claimed to cure all diseases along with vegan diet based on various pseudoscientific claims, and denied that HIV caused AIDS.
Bowman’s fame spread across the United States and got the attention of various entertainment and acting celebrities who couldn’t help but patronize him. The likes of Micheal Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Lisa Lopes, Steven Seagal and John Travolta were all his clients.
Bowman who was suffering from impotence, diabetes, and asthma, claimed to have become dissatisfied with Western medical practices in treating him. This led to his trip to an herbalist in Mexico whom Bowman claimed healed him.
Upon the success of his healing, Bowman, inspired by this began his own healing practice in Honduras where he developed a treatment that he called the “African Bioelectric Cell Food Therapy.” He claimed that it could cure a variety of diseases, which include cancer and AIDS, as well as numerous chronic conditions and mental illnesses. He also created related herbal products.
This made 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, located in the village of Usha. After a decade of practice, Bowman moved to New York City, where he encountered legal opposition to his medical and therapeutic claims because he said his supplements could cure AIDS.
He gradually earned considerable income, over $3000 a day, from giving advice and developing a wide range of relationships with his clients.
In the early 1980s AIDS had newly been recognized as an epidemic disease started in the United States, with a series of cases in New York and other major cities being reported. Bowman claimed that HIV is not the cause of AIDS and developed herbal remedies to treat people.
In 1987 Bowman was arrested and prosecuted in New York state for illegally practicing medicine without a license. The jury acquitted him, saying the state had failed to prove he made a medical diagnosis. Again 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 prevented from making such claims.
Although, Dr. Sebi, 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 prosecuted in New York state for practicing medicine without a license, and acquitted. He was charged in a civil suit that resulted in his being prohibited from making therapeutic claims for his supplements.
According to McGill University , Bowman’s diet and food therapy was based on the discredited alkaline diet. His trust on the origin of disease denied germ theory and factored in faux- afrocentric claims about the unique genetic characteristics of Africans and their diaspora.
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. After several weeks’ of being detained in jail, he contracted pneumonia . He died in police custody while being transported to a hospital.