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Reference SA/BMA/C.362-367
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Previous Numbers MP961/28
Level SubSeries
Extent 6 files
Title Consumption cure: Stevens
Date 1911-1972
Box Number 106-107
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Major Charles Henry Stevens' controversial South African consumption cure "Umckaloabo" had reportedly healed hundreds of patients, many from the brink of death; it was stated that upon learning the efficacy and the lack of toxicity of Umckaloabo medical men began to take interest in this remedy and embarked upon treating their patients with it, with reported beneficial results.

This file does not contain the full set of material relating to Stevens and his cure: huge gaps are present. The material runs from 1926 to 1939, which represents only 19 years of documentation of Stevens and his remedy.

The contents of the file can generally be divided into two sections:

1) Correspondence between the BMA and the Advertising Authority (AA). There are a large number of letters from the AA to the BMA about the integrity of Stevens and the efficacy of his Umckaloabo remedy.

In response, there are many letters where the BMA expressed their judgement and conviction on both Stevens and his remedy. In many cases the BMA provides references, many of which prove to be biased against Stevens.

There are also acknowledgements mentioning the establishment of the Committee for the Investigation of Tuberculosis by various prominent people, many of them being Members of Parliament.

2) Correspondence between the BMA and various newspapers in South Africa. The newspaper represented the most is the Cape Times.

The letters contain enquiries made by the BMA to these newspapers regarding the origin of Umckaloabo root plant and its native users.

Historical Background

A summary of Major Charles Henry Stevens' biography:

1880 - Born in Aston, Birmingham

1897 - After being diagnosed with Pulmonary Tuberculosis and being advised to go South Africa he arrived at Bloemfontein and encountered a native man who gave him a full recovery after 3 months of taking this remedy.

1898 - Stevens returned to Birmingham and was confirmed to be free from TB by his doctor.

1901 - 26th July accepted as a volunteer with the Scottish Yeomanry Regiment in the Boer war.

1902 - Discharged from the army and joined the Cape Town police.

1904 - His motorcycle company "New Hudson Agency" was destroyed by a fire: he was declared bankrupt due to the absence of insurance. In the same year he went to Maseru and opened up his company Saccom Limited where he sold Umckaloabo as a consumption cure.

1906 - Saccom Limited failed. He moved to Johannesburg to open up his new company Lungsava where he continued to sell Umckaloabo.

1907 - Returned to England and established his company in 204 Worple Road, Wimbledon, London. Here he began to sell Umckaloabo to the public.

1909 - BMA published a book called Secret Remedies - What They Contain which openly criticised Stevens for his unethical selling of the remedy and labelled him as a quack.

1912 - Stevens took the BMA to court for a libel alleged in the above-named book published by the BMA. The jury could not agree on any verdict and both Stevens and the BMA were discharged.

1914 - Stevens mounted a second court case against the BMA to recover damages he had suffered due to the BMA's publication. The jury decided that the BMA acted in the public interest and was right to expose Stevens' actions. The judge ordered Stevens to pay a fee totalling 2000 to cover the cost of this trial together with the previous trial in 1912.

1915 - Application for a third trial refused.

1942 - 5th December: died at the Royal Sussex Hospital, Brighton.

Access Status Open
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Language English

Abbreviations used:

AA: Advertising Authority

BMA: British Medical Association

MaterialType Archives - Non-digital
System No. a29cab06-a860-4ef7-bc82-14064897b3db