Who was Alfredo Bowman?
Alfredo Darrington Bowman was a herbalist and a self-proclaimed healer from Honduras who garnered prominence for having a number of Hollywood celebrities as his clients, including Lisa Lopes, Steven Seagal, John Travolta, Eddie Murphy, and Michael Jackson. He was better known as Dr. Sebi, despite the fact that he did not have a medical degree. A native of Ilanga, Bowman received his early lessons on herbal healing from his grandmother. At the age of 20, he relocated to the United States. According to some sources, he was suffering from asthma, diabetes, and impotence at the time, and conventional medicine did not help him. He travelled to Mexico to seek help from a herbalist, and after gaining positive results from it, he came back to US and set up a herbal healing practice in New York. Not long after, he established another centre in Honduras. Much of Bowman’s claims have received criticisms from actual doctors, attorneys, and consumer protection agencies, with many of them calling him a quack. After battling several legal issues throughout his life, Bowman died in 2016 while he was in the custody of the Honduran authorities.
Throughout his professional career, Alfredo Bowman described himself as self-educated. He did not have any formal education. Despite this, he adopted the moniker, Dr. Sebi, something which earned him the derision of actual medical professionals. Many doctors, attorneys, and consumer protection agencies dubbed him a quack and his treatments as pseudo-science.
According to Bowman, he could treat all illnesses with herbs and a unique vegan diet, which was a version of the since-discredited alkaline diet. He rejected the notion that germs cause diseases, and was a prominent advocate of the HIV/AIDS denialism. He also made faux-Afrocentric arguments about the distinctive genetic characteristics of Africans and its diaspora.
After being allegedly cured of his illnesses by a Mexican herbalist, Bowman returned to US and established a herbal healing practice in New York. He set up a second centre, called the USHA Research Institute, in a village called Usha near La Ceiba, Honduras. It was not long before he started making a significant amount of money, over $3,000 per day. In time, he became a highly sought-after healer among Hollywood celebrities.
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In 1987, a criminal charge was brought against Bowman in New York City for practising medicine without a license. After accepting his argument that he was not a physician, the jurors acquitted him of the charge, claiming that the state had been unable to provide any evidence that would prove that he had medically diagnosed anyone. Later, the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against him for consumer fraud and stopped him from speaking about the alleged therapeutic characteristics of his products.
In 1993, Shirley Stark, who was the head of the New York Attorney General's Consumer Fraud Section at the time, hinted that Bowman’s company had been successfully sued in a civil court. Due to all these lawsuits, Bowman eventually decided to move to Los Angeles, California.
In 2004, Bowman sued Michael Jackson, alleging that he had not been paid for treating the pop star for painkiller addiction to Demerol and morphine with his African Bio-Electric Cell Food Therapy. Representatives for Jackson rejected Bowman’s claims. The case was eventually thrown out of the court in 2015 for lack of prosecution.
Family & Personal Life
Born on November 26, 1933, in Ilanga, Colón, Honduras, Bowman was the son of Violet Francis Bowman and Clifford Bowman. He was given his first lessons on herbal healing by his grandmother. When he was 20 years old, he moved to the United States of America. Little is known about his life during this period. In an interview with Rock Newman, Bowman claimed that he had been diagnosed with asthma, diabetes, and impotence in the early 1960s and had received conventional treatment for them. He was even admitted into an “insane asylum” in 1961 for the treatment of schizophrenia and paranoia. According to Bowman, none of these helped him. After learning about a herbalist in Mexico, he travelled to the country to meet him. He claimed that the herbalist cured him.
Bowman had always regarded himself as an African in Honduras, not as an African Honduran. His maternal grandfather originally hailed from Haiti. Over the course of his life, he married twice. The women were Patsy Bowman and Maha Bowman. At the time of his death, he was the father of 17 living children.
In March 2016, Bowman was apprehended with $37,000 in cash for money laundering by the Honduran authorities at the Juan Manuel Gálvez de Roatan Airport. He was apprehended again on 28 May, this time with $50,000. While he was initially released on 6 June, he was once more taken into custody by the Public Ministerio on money laundering charges. He subsequently spent several weeks in a Honduran prison while his family tried to get him released. At some point, he contracted pneumonia and passed away while he was being taken to Hospital D'Antoni in La Ceiba on August 6, 2016. He was 82 years old at the time.
Many of his followers hold the view that his arrest and subsequent death were the results of his disagreements with medical establishments.