Have you been coming across individuals online sharing their experience with this stuff called Ibogaine being used to treat opiate abuse? It caught my attention so, I decided to take a “peak”, and found myself in a full-on investigation because of all these fun and interesting facts! What I found was that Ibogaine in small doses has a mild stimulant effect, but in larger doses it produces a psychedelic effect. Ibogaine has also been proven to eliminate withdraw symptoms and cravings. It happens to have efficiency in treatment for anorexia, bulimia, PTSD, depression, trauma along with many other disorders and addictions. There are so many intriguing facts I learned about Ibogaine such as where it came from, how it works, the evidence behind it and so much more! I know I can’t be the only one wondering about Ibogaine, so in a blog it goes! I couldn’t stop reading about this stuff so allow me to guide you down the rabbit hole. I’ll touch on what scientists and doctors are calling an alternative treatment!
What in the universe is this stuff and how does it work? Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants of the Apocynaceae family such as Tabernanthe iboga, Voacanga africana and Tabernaemontana undulata. I’m going to focus on the Tabernanthe iboga tree. It’s been described as the tree of life by the Bwiti people located in Western Central Africa the bark has been used for healing rituals for decades. The Ibogaine we are discussing is an indole alkaloid that is extracted from the root barks of the Tabernanthe iboga. It’s known as Ibogaine hydrochloride, it is semi-synthesis with another plant alkaloid precursor compound called voacangine, it’s the most-researched active compound. The actual treatment occurs in two phases, the visionary phase and the introspection phase. The visionary phase, referring to the dreamlike nature of its psychedelic effects, lasts for 4 to 6 hours. The second phase, the introspection phase, is responsible for the psychotherapeutic effects. It can allow people to conquer their fears and negative emotions. Ibogaine catalyzes an altered state of consciousness reminiscent of dreaming while fully conscious and aware so that memories, life experiences, and issues of trauma can be processed. To keep tunnel vision on Ibogaine being used as a treatment for substance abuse, I’ll take you on an adventure into the controversy of which form of the Central African Iboga Tree extract is most beneficial for treatment, Iboga or Ibogaine and why?
Ibogaine is the form that holds the “mystical powers” that best treat substance abuse. Ibogaine for the purpose of drug addiction treatment is administered in doses of 15-20 mg. It’s more appropriate for seekers who feel comfortable in a medical setting. It has been extracted and synthesized with 95-99% purity, so the dose can be very carefully controlled and is most often administered with a precautionary IV in place and heart monitoring throughout the process to suit specific needs. The second being Iboga. It’s the form with a more intense effect but a typical therapeutic dose ranges from 5 to 100 grams it will cause nausea, and vomiting. The amount of active chemicals can vary making it hard to administer, so it’s not too strong or too weak. Many patients who use iboga may still experience some withdrawal, but there is a long history of its use, and those seeking a truly spiritual experience may appreciate the direct communication with the Bwiti “tree of life.” The different forms have different effects on the body. Ibogaine passes through your system in about 14-24 hours, due to nor-Ibogaine which is a chemical the body also produces to metabolize Ibogaine in the liver. Ibogaine has a shorter recovery period from the actual treatment, which is more in line with what some individuals need for substance abuse treatment. Pure ibogaine tends to lead to hyperactivity afterward but is most recommended for substance abuse treatment. The Iboga may lead patients to a more balanced state afterwards; it is not recommended for drug abuse treatment because providers require total abstinence for a period of two to four weeks prior to treatment to reduce medical risks. Iboga still offers a valuable experience to people in recovery from drug addiction by resetting the receptor sites, providing an antidepressant effects, and healing the root causes of addiction. Iboga has also been known to leave patients with some uncomfortable detox symptoms contributing to Ibogaine being the best recommendation for Drug Treatment.
Am I tripping or is this the magical drug we’ve all been searching for? Well I stumbled upon this fun fact Ibogaine is indeed Illegal in the United States. The DEA dubbed ibogaine a Schedule I controlled substance meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse because of its hallucinogenic properties. Internationally there are several studies and treatments that report the efficacy of Ibogaine treatments. I have come to find out many people are traveling to places such as Brazil, Mexico, Canada and Costa-Rico to receive the Ibogaine treatment. With all these personal testimonies I’ve come across along with the many studies and actual treatments concluding Ibogaines effectiveness, it blows my mind to think it’s illegal here. Instead of morphing into conspiracy theorists, lets fall into a trans of pre-dated use of Ibogaine and beyond.
Now let’s follow the yellow brick road taking us back in time to see what we find! Iboga was first discovered by the Pygmy tribe of Central Africa who passed the knowledge to the Bwiti tribe of Gabon. Ibogaine-containing preparations were used for ritual purposes within African spiritual traditions of the Bwiti that had been learned from the Pygmy people. Then, French explorers learned of it from the Bwiti tribe and brought iboga back to Europe. Where it was subsequently marketed in France as Lambarene and used as a stimulant in 1899-1900. The CIA studied the effects of ibogaine in the 1950s. With that came the total synthesis of ibogaine in 1956, which includes several other compounds combined with Iboga. Ibogaine has been around and used for many purposes over the years, Howard Lotsoff was the first to attempt using it to treat heroin addiction in himself during the 1960s. Lotsoff claimed it to suspend drug cravings and that he detoxed without withdrawal symptoms. In 1986, he received a patent for ibogaine in capsules and worked with European psychiatrists and doctors to treat cocaine and opioid addiction with ibogaine. Ibogaine seemed to be working for two-thirds of patients. Initially, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved clinical trials for using Ibogaine in opioid dependency treatment, but a lack of funds and the death of a patient using ibogaine in the Netherlands effectively paused research in the 1990s. That’s why ibogaine remains a schedule l substance in America. Deborah Mash is an addiction specialist, and neuroscientist from the University of Miami. She opened a private research center in the Caribbean in the 1990s where she tested ibogaine on 300 addicts. Deborah Mash’s study showed effects on interrupting addiction from the ibogaine treatment. 70 percent of her patients remained in recovery for months and years after treatment. There is a ton of Ibogaine history to be explored and although I’m on a roll I must keep it brief.
Before we get ahead of ourselves as we wander into wonderland lets go over some risk factors! There is a cardiovascular risk with Ibogaine it causes long QT syndrome (lack of ion channels in the heart) at therapeutic doses; apparently it blocks hERG potassium channels in the heart. Neurotoxicity was a concern during a study in which humans received ibogaine in 1993. Neuropathological examination revealed no evidence of degenerative changes in a woman who had received four separate doses of ibogaine, ranging between 10 and 30 mg⁄ kg over a 15-month interval, prior to her death from a mesenteric artery thrombosis with small bowel infarction 25 days after her last ingestion of ibogaine. Between the years 1990 and 2008 a total of 19 fatalities temporally associated with the ingestion of ibogaine were reported, from which six subjects died of acute heart failure or cardiopulmonary arrest. No evidence suggested a characteristic syndrome of neurotoxicity out of the fatalities. Another concern for risk is adverse interactions with psychiatric medications and some studies also suggest adverse interaction with heart conditions. Ibogaine is one of the many drugs that are partly metabolized by the CP450 complex, so caution must be exercised to avoid foods or drugs that are similarly metabolized by CP450. This includes particular foods containing bergamottin or bergamot oil, grapefruit being one. With all this into play, Ibogaine appears to be effective for encouraging introspection and giving the user occasion to reflect on the sources of their addiction, while also producing an intense, transformative experience that can put established patterns of behavior into perspective. I’ll end this fact-finding quest with a glimpse of the possible fate of one of the metabolites in ibogaine called noribogaine, researchers are attempting to isolate the metabolite and begin testing its effectiveness for a legal alternative to ibogaine treatment for the future of America. It's safe to say we need more research.
Everything I’ve just gone over with you in this blog is just a bite sized version of the awakening I encountered It’s all still sinking in. We didn’t even get into the healers, and the shaman’s role during treatment. I encourage taking a look for yourself the information will catch your eye and will have you “peaking” for more! This information has me pondering on the plot of two films, my childhood favorites, Alice and Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. This surely heightened my interest and now I’d like to know who has experience or knows someone who has experience with Ibogaine treatment, I am ecstatic to hear about it. If you’d like to share any thoughts, ideas, or information about Ibogaine good or bad I’d love to hear from you, we can even just get lost in conversation of other psychedelic treatments, give me what you got and let’s get weird!