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Ibogaine

Category: Medicines - plant based

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

Tabernanthe iboga

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants in the Apocynaceae family such as Tabernanthe iboga, Voacanga africana and Tabernaemontana undulata.

It is classified by chemists as a  ‘psychedelic with dissociative properties’, thus attracting people who believe the drug to be 'recreational' or something like like LSD or 2C-B when it is nothing of the sort.  The substance is even banned in some countries.

But in other, more savvy countries, it is used as therapy to treat addiction to methadone, heroin, ethanol, cocaine, methamphetamine, anabolic steroids, and other drugs. Ibogaine is also used to treat depression and post traumatic stress disorder. And if one looks at all the observations from people who have tried this treatment with genuine intent – it works.

It does not cure stupidity and those with no intent, for example

 

NYC addict. "It's a Huge Scam: An Experience with Ibogaine”.
I went to an Ibogaine program in Mexico about a month ago.. …. I was in a group with an alcoholic, 2 OxyContin addicts, a heroin addict and myself.  I am a heroin addict but I went to this program to get off methadone which I was maintained on for several years at a dose of 110mg daily [sic]. …..The first thing you notice when it kicks in is a very annoying buzzing sound that continues all night. Theres a lot of trails, light sensitivity, the doctor almost looked like he had aztec war paint on his face. Other effects are you can barely walk ….. There is no profound aspect to this trip, it is nothing like LSD or psilocybin or 2C-B or anything of that sort. … For the next 10 days at the program we all felt like complete shit. The claim that ibogaine stops withdrawals may be true …….. Anyways, after crossing the border to fly home, the other heroin addict and myself had about 8 hours to kill so we copped some tar, which was a first since we both come from the northeast. We got a gram and did less than 0.1 and it got us high as hell.

Voacanga africana

We have used EROWID for the observations.  The observations from EROWID almost always classify as the results of overload activity, but Ibogaine produces rebirth experiences and whilst the chemical 5-MeO-DMT produces comparable results, the rebirth experiences themselves tend to be far more violent. 

It is possible that this level of violence is more effective in the long term for certain kinds of people, but if there is a desperate wish by the person to change and once healed to keep to the path,  Ibogaine would seem to be a very effective cure.

Ibogaine and the spiritual path

If we look at the spiritual path and its stages, we can see that Ibogaine takes you through Purgatory via the rebirth experience.  It provokes rebirth.

 

Those who use Ibogaine in a spiritual context should only need to use this drug once.  After having been through this midnight of the soul, they can then proceed on the spiritual path to the stages of purification

Tabernaemaontana undulata

Those who have no understanding of the importance of this drug spiritually will go backwards, continue to mess up their lives, will not relearn and will find themselves longing for a repeat of the process to cleanse themselves of the harm they have done by not learning.

The following [names not given to protect him, but this was from EROWID] shows not only a lack of intent to build on the experience but also a self defeating action – ‘supplements’ that substitute for cocaine are drugs.

In 2005, I took several [sic] flood doses of Ibogaine, including 4g over three days in a Tijuana clinic. ….What I noticed over the next 90 days or so, was that my addiction had been completely annihilated, and my brain had been reset to a pre-addiction state. [It should also be noted that I daily take 1500mg of the over-the-counter supplement, which is supposed to mitigate cocaine cravings]. Anyway, this state faded at about 90 days and at about 100 days a full-on cocaine craving developed.

Tabernanthe manii

In repeating the use of this drug, they risk brain damage.  And indeed there is enough evidence now to show that repeated use or use when there is no need results in brain damage.

Am J Addict. 2015 Apr;24(3):203-5. doi: 10.1111/ajad.12209. Epub 2015 Apr 14.  Mania following use of ibogaine: A case series.  Marta CJ, Ryan WC, Kopelowicz A, Koek RJ.
We report on a case series of psychiatric emergency room patients whose unregulated use of ibogaine resulted in mania in three patients with no prior diagnosis of bipolar illness.  Two cases of reported ibogaine ingestion for self-treatment of addictions, and one for psycho-spiritual experimentation resulted in symptoms consistent with mania.  PMID:25877487

In contrast, those who move on to the 'Purification' stage of the spiritual path heal themselves.  Since many types of illness are emotionally linked, curing emotional ills often helps in healing physical ills - this is described in Types of Hurt and organs and the section on Healing yourself.

Legality

 

In the 1960s in the USA, the psychiatric handbooks were being rewritten, pharmaceuticals developed to treat these new illnesses and all non pharmaceutical based substances were gradually being made illegal.   
And it was in the late 1960s that the US based World Health Assembly classified ibogaine as a “substance likely to cause dependency or endanger human health”. 
Not long after, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assigned Ibogaine Schedule I classification, and the International Olympic Committee banned ibogaine as a potential doping agent!

In the USA

Ibogaine is still a Schedule I substance in the U.S  and is not approved there for addiction treatment or any other therapeutic use. This has very conveniently ensured the market for addictive drugs and pharmaceuticals has remained very strong and profitable in the USA, but of course has also hampered all research.  The lack of research has then led in a cyclical fashion to reports from the USA that Ibogaine cannot be effective because there is no research to support its use.
It is interesting that many of the cases of Ibogaine hospitalisation and death, occur in the USA where  illegal ‘neighborhood clinics’ are known to exist and where the treatment received is often in a non-medical setting, without expert supervision and unaccompanied by appropriate care.

Rest of the world

 

As of 2009, ibogaine is unregulated in Canada and Mexico.
As of 2015 in the United Kingdom, ibogaine is not listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act and so is legal to possess, however distribution is illegal.
Ibogaine is schedule I in Sweden.
Ibogaine is illegal in Norway.
Ibogaine is unregulated in Germany, but for medical use it can be regulated by the pharmacy rules (AMG).
Ibogaine was gazetted in New Zealand in 2009 as a non-approved prescription medicine.

In most other countries it remains unregulated, but entirely legal.

Ibogaine treatment clinics

 

While ibogaine's prohibition in several countries has slowed scientific research into its anti-addictive properties, the use of ibogaine for drug treatment has grown in the form of a large worldwide medical subculture.   
Independent ibogaine treatment clinics have emerged in Mexico, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, France, Slovenia, Brazil, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.  There also appear to be well regulated clinics in Thailand and other parts of Indonesia and Malaya.  Some of these clinics are in ideal settings of great beauty and peace, run by kindly staff - many of whom are cured addicts.

Chemistry

 

Ibogaine is metabolized in the human body by cytochrome P450 2D6 into noribogaine (12-hydroxyibogamine).

Noribogaine is a potent serotonin reuptake inhibitor.  It also acts as an agonist for the 5-HT2A receptor.  BUT at the doses given -  called a ‘flood dose’ -  the overall effect will be to knock the functions of serotonin out.  All its effects are thus mediated through serotonin and it is thus an ego-buster and an aggression buster.  It will also be an excessive appetite buster – helping things like compulsions and addictions.  For this reason it may have many uses not yet explored – such as helping the obese. 

But Ibogaine affects numerous other different neurotransmitter systems simultaneously.  It is, for example, believed to act as a moderate κ-opioid receptor antagonist.  Researchers have only touched the surface of its complex activity.  Although we have provided the current table of receptor activity, the fact remains that this is not definitive and may even be wrong.  What is important and essential to know, however, is that it is this extra activity that ensures one does not get the violent effects experienced on drugs such as 5-MeO-DMT – also an ego-buster.  Ibogaine is not a ‘nice’ drug, because any drug that provokes rebirth by definition cannot be 'nice'.  There is no recreational value in Ibogaine.  But it is as effective as it needs to be, without being too terrifying.

Ki-values in μM[21] (a smaller value demonstrates higher binding affinity)

Receptor

Ibogaine

Noribogaine

κ-opioid

2.2

0.61

μ-opioid

2.0

0.68

δ-opioid

>10

5.2

NMDA

3.1

15

5-HT2A

16

>100

5-HT2C

>10

>10

5-HT3

2.6

>100

σ1

2.5

11

σ2

0.4

19

 

this is not an advertisement, but it is their photo, so the
credits were retained

18-MC

(–)-18-Methoxycoronaridine (18-MC) is a derivative of ibogaine invented in 1996 by the research team around the pharmacologist Stanley D. Glick from the Albany Medical College and the chemist Martin E. Kuehne from the University of Vermont. 18-MC is a α3β4 nicotinic antagonist and, in contrast to ibogaine, has no affinity at the α4β2 subtype nor at NMDA-channels nor at the serotonin transporter.  18-MC is thus NOT Ibogaine and any claims made by researchers that it is somehow a ‘replacement’ are untrue.

History

 

Ibogaine-containing preparations are used for medicinal and ritual purposes within African spiritual traditions of the Bwiti, who claim to have learned it from the Pygmy peoples.

It is uncertain exactly how long iboga has been used in African spiritual practice, but its activity was first observed by French and Belgian explorers in the 19th century. The first botanical description of the Tabernanthe iboga plant was made in 1889.

 

Ibogaine itself was known and used way back in the 1930s.  It was sold in France in 8 mg tablets in the form of Lambarène, an extract of the Tabernanthe manii plant. Lambarène was advertised as a mental and physical stimulant and was "...indicated in cases of depression, asthenia, in convalescence, infectious disease, [and] greater than normal physical or mental efforts by healthy individuals".

The effects of ibogaine in treating substance use disorders in human subjects were first discovered by accident by Howard Lotsof in 1962 at the age of 19, when he and five friends used it while addicted to heroin.  Lotsof went on to research, promote and lobby for the use of ibogaine for treating substance addictions, even having a Belgian company manufacture it, to be used for clinical trials in the Netherlands.  Carl Waltenburg also set up a clinic to treat heroin addicts in Christiania, Denmark, a squatter village where heroin addiction was widespread in 1982. 

 

Ibogaine's use in diminishing morphine self-administration in preclinical studies was shown by Glick et al. (1991) and ibogaine's capacity to reduce cocaine self-administration was shown by Cappendijk et al. in 1993. Data demonstrating ibogaine's efficacy in attenuating opioid withdrawal in drug-dependent human subjects was published by Alper et al. (1999) and Mash et al. (2000).

The US restrictions stayed put. 

Frustrated by this, people like Eric Taub brought Ibogaine to offshore locations close to the United States, where he began providing treatment and later Lex Kogan joined Taub in systematizing the approach to administration, establishing clinics across several countries where they provided treatment with trained staff.

Ibogaine has also been used as an adjunct to psychotherapy by Claudio Naranjo, documented in his book The Healing Journey.

Ibogaine and vasoconstriction

 

One of the confusing aspects of Ibogaine is that appears to produce hypotension and hypertension.  The hypotension appears to relate to the shock induced by a very very high dose to someone already ill, for example, with sclerosis of the liver from alcoholism or a weakened heart from years of drug abuse.

High levels of serotonin is vasoconstrictive and Ibogaine simulates serotonin.  In many respects it may work via this side-effect and induce hypoxia, although there is clearly a great deal more going on here than just hypoxia!

Thus, if you have a poorly heart, atherosclerosis, or hypertension, the last thing you should be doing is taking Ibogaine.  One of the problems in this area is that clinics have sprung up, unregulated but cashing in on demand, that do not follow basic safety procedures – heart monitoring test and then a drug allergy/tolerance test. 

In recent years, alarming reports of life-threatening complications and sudden death cases, temporally associated with the administration of ibogaine, have been accumulating. These adverse reactions were hypothesised to be associated with ibogaine's propensity to induce cardiac arrhythmias. PMID:  25642835

And some of these stories are true, especially, for reasons already explained, in the USA.

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive plant alkaloid that is used globally in medical and nonmedical settings for opioid detoxification and other substance use indications.
All available autopsy, toxicological, and investigative reports were systematically reviewed for the consecutive series of all known fatalities outside of West Central Africa temporally related to the use of ibogaine from 1990 through 2008.
Nineteen individuals (15 men, four women between 24 and 54 years old) are known to have died within 1.5-76 h of taking ibogaine.
The clinical and postmortem evidence did not suggest a characteristic syndrome of neurotoxicity.
Advanced preexisting medical comorbidities, which were mainly cardiovascular, and/or one or more commonly abused substances explained or contributed to the death in 12 of the 14 cases for which adequate postmortem data were available.
Other apparent risk factors include seizures associated with withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines and the uninformed use of ethnopharmacological forms of ibogaine. PMID: 22268458
2012 American Academy of Forensic Sciences

But there is another nastier side to this.  Ibogaine is obtained either by extraction from the iboga plant or by semi-synthesis from the precursor compound voacangine, another plant alkaloid. Although a full organic synthesis of ibogaine has been achieved, the synthesis process is too expensive and challenging to be used to produce a commercially significant yield.

This is why you will not be prescribed Ibogaine by many [US] doctors; neither he nor the pharmaceutical companies can make any money from Ibogaine.

In addition there is another side-effect of Ibogaine very infrequently mentioned, but well known.  It can cure you of addiction to pharmaceuticals as well, especially those based on serotonin.  And for a list of these see Serotonin imbalance.

So the figures for deaths and complications has, in some reports, been wildly exaggerated by those people and companies who see a rather lucrative market disappearing at a stroke. 
Depression cured, PTSD cured, migraine cured [migraine headaches can be alleviated by vasoconstrictors], obesity cured, alcoholism cured, psychoses cured – permanently – with one clinic controlled session with a drug that cannot be commercially produced.

The whole of the US economy would collapse if Ibogaine was used and people were well again. [I jest] 

Method

 

Sources

Ibogaine occurs naturally in a number of plants.  The principle plant used is the Tabernanthe iboga plant, which also contains all the other iboga alkaloids.  The use of the plants and all the alkaloids appears to be key – not just the single chemical Ibogaine.  An extract of the plant is also effective. If all else fails Ibogaine Hcl  seems to work on its own, but ...... compare the observations.  Plants that contain Ibogaine include the following [Source Ratsch]:

  • Tabernanthe iboga. This is the major source of ibogaine and is found in Gabon.  The root of the Tabernanthe iboga plant (also known as eboga) is the most frequently cited source of ibogaine, see Dr Duke’s analysis
  • Tabernanthe orientalis. This plant is now called Ervatamia orientalis, and is found in Western Australia. The leaves and root contain ibogaine.
  • Tabernanthe pubescens. This is found in Zaire, and contains a number of alkaloids closely related to ibogaine in structure, as well as ibogaine itself.
  • Tabernaemontana spp. This genus is from the family Apocynaceae that is called the Tabernaemontaneae. This genus contains several dozen species, some with ibogaine. Both the following have been renamed and put into this family
    1. Voacanga dichotoma = Tabernaemontana pachysiphon
    2. Voacanga plumeriifolia = Tabernaemontana macrocarpa
  • Pandaca retusa - is also known as Tabernaemontana retusa and is a species of plant in the Apocynaceae family. It is found in Madagascar
  • Trachelospermum jasminoides - Trachelospermum jasminoides is a species of flowering plant in the milkweed family, Apocynaceae, that is native to eastern and southeastern Asia, into Japan, Korea, southern China, and Vietnam. Common names include Star Jasmine, Confederate Jasmine, and Trader's Compass
  • Voacanga africana is a tropical W + C + E + S Africa tree that grows to 6m in height. It has leaves that are up to 30 cm in length, and the tree produces yellow or white flowers, which become berries with yellow seeds.  It has a complex mixture of iboga alkaloids such as voacangine, voacamine, vobtusine, amataine, akuammidine, tabersonine, coronaridine and vobtusine
  • Voacanga schweinfurthii var. puberula - (known in the older literature as Voacanga puberula) contains some ten related alkaloids, the major one of which is found in the seeds, and is tabersonine present at a rather remarkable 3.5 %. Ibogaine is present in the root bark but, at a concentration of 200 mg/Kg (0.02%), it is truly a minor constituent.
 

Wash-out

Before you even attempt this you must have attempted to temporarily reduced the drugs you are on.  Psychiatric medications are strongly contraindicated in Ibogaine therapy due to adverse interactions.  If the clinic attempts to give you any drug – from tranquilisers to sleep aids, they do not know what they are doing.  Pharmaceuticals are no different to heroin or crack cocaine in this form of therapy.  The objective is to be pharmaceutical free and that means ALL pharmaceuticals, benzodiazepines, anti-depressants, TCAs and all the other serotonin based drugs included.

Do not use Ibogaine at the same time as neuroleptics, beta-blockers, or tricyclic antidepressants, as you may get adverse interactions.

Fasting or dietary moderation

 

Several days of dietary moderation, and drinking only water, or a short period of fasting are recommended before treatment.  Because ibogaine is one of the many drugs that are partly metabolized by the cytochrome P450 complex, caution must be exercised to avoid foods or drugs that inhibit CP450, in particular foodstuffs containing bergamottin or bergamot oil, [like Earl Grey tea] other common ones being grapefruit juice.

The O-demethylation of ibogaine in the liver is catalysed by the P4502d6 cytochrome.   Approximately 5-10% of Caucasians lack the gene needed to produce this enzyme, and are therefore more prone to adverse reactions.  Either you or thr clinic must test for the presence of this enzyme before administration.

Pre-testing for health problems

As stated above the clinic must test for heart problems, should test that the genes needed to handle ibogaine are present and  should also ensure the liver itself is not damaged - otherwise the ibogaine will not be metabolised.  This becomes essential if the attendance at the clinic is for alcoholism.

Do not use Ibogaine if you have liver problems.  The third recorded fatality occurred in 2000, in the U.K. The patient was a 38 year old male, and suffered from hepatitis C. He was administered a total of approximately 5 grams of a total iboga extract standardized to 15% ibogaine. He died 38 hours after initial administration. The official inquest named the primary cause of death as asphyxiation due to vomit clogging airways, with liver failure as a secondary cause

 

Dose

The dose, as always, needs to be weight, height, age and health dependent.  A reputable clinic is able to work this out.  If these are not asked for and your health is not checked prior to administration, you have not found a reputable clinic!

The dose always given is ‘high’.  If it was not high the rebirth experience would not be provoked.

In Bwiti religious ceremonies, the root bark is pulverized and swallowed in large amounts to produce the  intense effects aimed for.

Wikipedia
Because of its fairly low potency at any of its target sites, ibogaine is used in doses anywhere from 5 mg/kg of body weight for a minor effect to 30 mg/kg in the cases of strong polysubstance addiction. It is unknown whether doses greater than 30 mg/kg in humans produce effects that are therapeutically beneficial, medically risky, or simply prolonged in duration.

I have no idea whether Wikipedia is right or wrong

The need for a  ‘safe house

One of the first noticeable effects of large-dose ibogaine ingestion is a difficulty in coordinating muscle motion which makes standing and walking difficult without assistance. As such you must be lying down and have a helper on hand at all times.  This is why a clinic is in some respects a better bet than a friend – however caring they are – as you will need help with going to the toilet and, as the effects can last well over 24 hours, someone able to be on call all this time.

Duration

The effects of Ibogaine can last as much as 3 days or more.....

About  75-80% of the Ibogaine consumed is metabolised by the liver into noribogaine.  But its pharmacological actions begin before it is metabolised. Ibogaine has a high propensity to be deposited in ‘adipose tissue’, showing high levels in fat for at least 12 hours after administration. It is believed that this is why a single dose of ibogaine has such a long acting effect.  In addition to urine, both ibogaine and noribogaine are detectable in many other parts of the body including blood, liver, and brain.

 

photo Jimmy Nelson

The visions

The visions received during an ibogaine session are produced by our composer as part of the therapy.  Some of the content will use personal symbolism, but there is a high likelihood that universal symbolism will also be used.  Even if you may think you don't know it.  It is essential that you either have a person to record what you are seeing for use afterwards or you have a tape recorder [or equivalent!] on all the time recording what you say.  You may remember, but 30 hours is a long time!

Many users of ibogaine report experiencing visual phenomena during a waking dream state, such as instructive replays of life events that led to their addiction, while others report therapeutic shamanic visions that help them conquer the fears and negative emotions that might drive their addiction

This site has a symbolism section that can be used afterwards to unravel the meaning.  It is worth remembering that the spirit world loves puns.

 

How it works

Physically

Physically the body is essentially correcting the Serotonin imbalance that has occured as a consequence of taking these drugs or becoming depressed etc.

Functionally

Functionally, it is far more interesting.  It may be helpful to refer to the generic description of How spiritual experience works to see this activity in context.

Ibogaine has the effect of subduing the  Emotions and the Nervous sensations.  As long as you are in a quiet darkened room, or have a mask on, then there is no 5 senses input and as we have seen Ibogauine is an ego-crusher thus the Personality has been temporarily squashed, the Objectives – both Desires and Obligations have been suppressed, and hipefully the safe hous ehas removed all threats.  As long as there is no attempt made to learn from Perceptions whatever happens will happen,  all recall from Memory is thus suppressed, thus there is nothing requiring Reasoning and thus Reason is suppressed.

The only input thus entering the Conscious mind and the Will is from the Composer and the Higher spirit and it is thus that you get a complete unsullied unfettered spiritual experience.

It is via this route once you are clean and free form all destructive beliefs  that Nirvana and moksha can be experienced and it is via this route that Annihilation takes place.

But one should not expect these to be the outcome of taking Ibogaine.  In the first place Ibogaine opens the door that might have been closed.  In the second place your Higher spirit - and you may actually see him/her [called ecstasy] - will give you lessons; lesson after lesson after lesson!   These will be delivered as either Visions or simple  Perception recall.

You may experience what it is to be ‘Out of time’.  If we cut out our Perceptions completely there is nothing to give us any sense of time – we go beyond time and into that space of stillness that is Divine love itself.  Our sense of time lies in the mind itself, time is an idea, a concept to be thought as a by-product of consciousness,  so leave this behind and you will indeed discover what eternity is.

So all the most ‘important’ types of experience spiritually are achieved via this route,    ... eventually ..... but of course you may never get them, because in the end the spirit world and your Composer decide what you need at the time and whether you are ready for such gifts.

 

References and further reading

Videos

  • Facing the Habit (2007) – this is not available on Youtube, so we have been unable to provide it as an observation, although a trailer is.  Directed by Magnolia Martin, Martin's subject is a former millionaire and stockbroker who travels to Mexico for ibogaine treatment for heroin addiction.

Related observations