In the wake of the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle, homeopathic healer Dr. Sebi began trending on Twitter.
Before his death, Nipsey Hussle revealed he was making a documentary profiling the life of Dr. Sebi, who claimed he successfully cured AIDS, and some fans on social media believe the “Victory Lap” rapper’s connection to the controversial figure made him a target.
In the late '80s, Dr. Sebi, whose given name was Alfredo Darrington Bowman, was at the center of several criminal proceedings for “practicing medicine without a license.” In 1988, the state of New York sued Dr. Sebi for making “unsubstantiated therapeutic claims” after he paid for ads in the Amsterdam News, the Village Voice, and the New York Post saying that, “AIDS has been cured.” The New York state attorney told Dr. Sebi to take down the ads or face legal ramifications.
“For an initial fee of $500 and $80 for each additional visit, patients were told they could be cured of AIDS and other diseases. The ‘cures’ consisted of various herbal products, for each of which USHA made therapeutic claims,” the state said in its lawsuit against the medical practitioner.
At a time when people were dying from AIDS at record numbers, Dr. Sebi was a leader in the natural remedies movement. As part of Dr. Sebi’s practice, he prescribed a strict vegan diet that cut out alcohol, sugar, and iodized salt to help the body regenerate and heal itself.
Dr. Sebi took his findings to trial in New York, where the medical practitioner provided examples of 77 patients he claimed to have cured. Although Dr. Sebi won the case, information about his treatment was never popularized.
During a recent radio interview with The Breakfast Club, Hussle explained why he wanted to bring new attention to the work of Dr. Sebi.
“I am working on doing doc on the trial in 1985. When Dr. Sebi went to trial in New York because he put in the newspaper that he cured AIDS. He beat the case. Then he went to federal court the next day, and he beat that case. But nobody talks about it,” the rapper said.
“I think the story is important. It’s a powerful narrative. Like if someone in this room said, ‘Hey, I cured AIDS.’ I’d be like, 'Yeah, right.' And then I can show you an example of him going to trial and proving in court he [cured] AIDS, I’d be interested in it. More so than championing his products or explaining his methodology. Put some light on that case,” he added.
After winning his legal battles, Dr. Sebi went on to treat several celebrity patients, including Michael Jackson. In 2004, Dr. Sebi allegedly spent months treating Jackson with his "African Bio-Electric Cell Food Therapy." Jackson reportedly once took Dr. Sebi to Washington D.C. to meet with black Congressmen about his work. The meeting yielded no money for funding nor support from the representatives.
Sebi sued Jackson for $380,000 in unpaid bills and $600,000 in supposedly lost revenues. The case was dismissed in 2015 for lack of prosecution.
In 2016, Dr. Sebi was arrested several times for money laundering. In the first incident, Dr. Sebi was arrested at the Juan Manuel Gálvez de Roatan Airport in Honduras along with his associate Pablo Medina Gamboa. The two were detained while attempting to board a private plane with $37,000 in cash.
Dr. Sebi was released just to be arrested for a second time by the Public Ministerio, the Honduras equivalent to the FBI, on charges of money laundering. Although Dr. Sebi was battling pneumonia, he remained in police custody. At 82 years old, Dr. Sebi died while in transit to Vicente D’Antoni Hospital.
Now, people who believe Nipsey Hussle shed light on a man the medical industry wanted to keep buried are revisiting the circumstances surrounding Dr. Sebi’s death.
Hussle asked in the Breakfast Club interview, “Why do they kill all holistic doctors? You’re messing up the medical industry. You’re shortstopping his grind. They checking billions. You’re playing with some pharmaceutical money.”
Learn about how to protect yourself from HIV/AIDS by using the CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool.