Ibogaine (FAQ)


Traditional Bwiti Ritual Gabon

Ibogaine was promoted as a diet drug in France in the 1800s (called Lambarene) and was looked into by the American CIA as a potential tool for their activities in the 1950s ( much as they had looked at LSD as a substance with potential use for pharmaceutical mind-control or as a 'truth drug').


The mechanism of action of Iboga is similar to that of other psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline but the drug also has a dissociative effect (feeling of 'detachment') similar to an anesthetic medication called ketamine. This root-derived alkyloid, ibogaine, produces an 'altered state of consciousness' (see post: Altered States of Consciousness), a state of dream-like hallucination sought after throughout the history of religion.

Crystalline salts of  'ibogaine hydrochloride' are the most effective form of the drug, this preparation made in a semi-synthetic fashion (the completely synthetically-made product is much more expensive) using a similar alkyloid from another type of plant. From a therapeutic perspective, Ibogaine has been used in psychotherapy (Naranjo-France), in the treatment of chronic pain (the drug has the ability to enhance the effect of narcotics) and experimentally in the treatment of opioid (narcotic) addiction in Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, The Netherlands and several other countries.

In the U.S.A., ibogaine is classified as a Schedule 1 substance by the Food and Drug Administration and is essentially banned from legal use in the same way as is psilocybin, mescaline and many other 'religious-use' drugs.

Side effects of the ingestion of ibogaine include dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, loss of balance, irregular heart beat. Some cases of death have been attributed to the use of this drug.

So, if you want to see the dead, talk with your great grandfather or ask Julius Caesar, face to face, what made him decide to 'Cross the Rubicon', you may have to travel to Central Africa yourself and ask a 'Bwiti' practitioner, one of the 'Seers of the Dead'.

There is one very special drug used in a ritual by native groups in Central Africa (Gabon, Cameroon, Zaire). It's origins are dark and mysterious, the  myth of its discovery told in the story of an indigenous secret society, the 'Bwiti' (the 'Seers of the Dead'):

"The Pygmy Bitamu died after falling from an Atanga treeZame cut off the little fingers and little toes of the dead man and planted them in various parts of the forest. They grew into the Eboka (Iboga) bush."

Iboga or Ibogaine (Tabernanthe iboga) belongs to the Apocynacae (Dogbane) family. Iboga, as a psychoactive substance, is classified as an 'indole alkyloid'.

Attempts have been made to create the substance synthetically but have been shown to be too expensive. Most samples of the drug are made semi-synthetically (from another plant alkyloid) producing crystalline 'ibogaine hydrochloride'. Otherwise, the drug can be made directly from the root bark shavings.

This is how practitioners of the 'Bwiti' rituals fabricate their iboga - the root bark of the iboga plant is crushed and drank in large quantities resulting in vivid hallucinations (eyes open or eyes closed), elevated mood, emotional clarity and dream-like visualisations of the past and the anticipated future.

When the bark itself is simply chewed the result is a stimulating effect but an effect less pronounced than ingestion of the pulverized mixture in suspension/solution.

In Central Africa, home of iboga, the main purpose of the 'Bwiti' ceremony today is the same as it has been for centuries - to journey into supernatural realms, to encounter supernatural beings and to contact the spirits of the dead.

Ibogaine is used by the natives of Gabon not only `to see the dead`` but for initiation ceremonies.

Reported Effects of Ibogaine and Effectiveness in Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

"Ibogaine, a natural alkaloid extracted from the root bark of the African shrub Tabernanthe Iboga, has attracted attention because of its reported ability to reverse human addiction to multiple drugs of abuse, including alcohol. Human anecdotal reports assert that a single administration of ibogaine reduces craving for opiates and cocaine for extended periods of time and reduces opiate withdrawal symptoms (Sheppard 1994; Mash et al., 1998; Alper et al., 1999). Studies also suggest that ibogaine attenuates drug- and ethanol induced behaviors in rodents. For example, ibogaine reduces operant self-administration of heroin in rats, as well as naloxone precipitated withdrawal in morphine-dependent rats (Glick et al., 1992; Dworkin et al., 1995). Administration of ibogaine decreases cocaine-induced locomotor activity and reduces cocaine self-administration in rats (Cappendijk and Dzoljic, 1993) and mice (Sershen et al., 1994).

Rezvani et al. (1995) reported that ibogaine reduces ethanol self-administration in alcohol-preferring selected lines of rats; however, the effects of ibogaine have not been tested in an operant procedure in which oral ethanol reinforces lever press behavior. Our first aim was to extend the characterization of the effects of ibogaine on ethanol self-administration to the operant procedure, including a test of the effects of ibogaine on reinstatement of ethanol self-administration after a period of extinction."

Dao-Yao He, Nancy N.H. McGough, Ajay Ravindranathan, Jerome Jeanblanc, Marian L. Logrip, Khanhky Phamluong, Patricia H. Janak, and Dorit Ron, "Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Mediates the Desirable Actions of the Anti-Addiction Drug Ibogaine against Alcohol Consumption," The Journal of Neuroscience, Jan. 19, 2005, Vol. 25, No. 3, p. 619. (PDF)

History Of Ibogaine As Treatment For Substance Use Disorder In The US

"In 1962, the anti-addictive property of ibogaine was inadvertently discovered by 19-year-old heroin addict Howard Lotsof.58 Lotsof was part of an experimental group of mostly 20-something Caucasians attending college.59 The group, which included seven heroin addicts, shared a common interest in experimenting and subjectively evaluating their experiences with various psychoactive drugs, including Mescaline, LSD, DMT, and psilocybin,60 in an effort to determine the psychotherapeutic value of hallucinogenic drugs.61 As psychedelic drugs were not illegal at the time, Lotsof had access to many of these drugs through his company, S & L Laboratories.62 Rather than simply providing the hallucinogenic, euphoriant high the group anticipated, the heroin addicts noticed that ibogaine actually alleviated their craving for heroin.63 Lotsof ceased using heroin, cocaine, and all other drugs during the six months following his initial dose of ibogaine, an effect most members of the group shared.64

"In 1986, more than two decades after his initial discovery, Lotsof: [sic] founded NDA International (NDA); obtained patents for the use of ibogaine in treating opiate, cocaine, amphetamines, and alcohol addictions under the name Endabuse; and started unofficially distributing ibogaine to addicts in Holland.75"

Donnelly, Jennifer R, "The Need for Ibogaine in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment," The Journal of Legal Medicine (Schaumburg, IL: American College for Legal Medicine, March 2011), Vol. 32, Issue 1, pp. 100 and 101.



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