Copyright Inukshuk Counselling Service © 2012-2018

What is Ibogaine? 

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance that has been proven to interrupt addictions and as well, it possesses other neurological and psychological benefits. It is found naturally in a number of plant sources, principally in a member of the Apocynaceae family known as iboga (Tabernanthe iboga), which has been used for centuries by traditional communities in West Africa for ritual and healing purposes.

In lower doses, ibogaine acts as a stimulant, increasing energy and decreasing fatigue in a way that is distinct from other central nervous system stimulants like amphetamines and cocaine. In larger doses, ibogaine produces 
oneirogenic effects, meaning that it stimulates a dream-like state while awake, as well as closed eye imagery and aids in the retrieval of repressed memories.

The Ibogaine Experience 

The ibogaine experience has been described as three distinct phases. In the first phase after taking ibogaine (0-1 hours) the visual and the physical perception of the body change. Some clients suffer from lowered coordination and feel the need to lie down. 

The second phase (1-12 hours depending on different variables) is often called “the waking dream state”. The clients lay down and usually are overwhelmed by the effects of the experience, as they experience hallucinations/visions, emotions, changes in perception of their own body, time and space. Clients feel heavy physically and experience difficulties when trying to move. The hallucinations/visions include, among other things, the following scenes: hearing African drums, seeing TV screens, ancient scrolls, animals, deceased people (who often look alive and approach the person, tell them something and disappear again), flying above oceans, cities, woods, traveling through their own brain or DNA, seeing objects in intensive colors, ect
... In spite of the strong hallucinogenic effects, the clients are able to stop each vision by opening their eyes. When the eyes are shut again, the hallucinations/visions continue, as if they are shown on TV screens. The majority of the clients prefer not to communicate during this phase, but rather concentrate on the visions. Many clients also report about visions being characterized as complete stories, which mean something to the client and helps them to achieve certain insights. These visions are often memories or events from their early childhood. The insights reached usually have to do with the clients past, the meaning of life, the creation and evolution of humanity, the animal world or the universe. The visions usually end after 3 to 6 hours, but not uncommon to go as long as 12 hours. 

The third phase is often called “the cognitive phase of deep introspection”, which usually starts 8 - 36 hours after taking iboga/ibogaine. It seems that the body is asleep while the spirit is fully awake. This phase is characterized by an intellectual evaluation of earlier experiences in life and the choices made. For instance, if a certain choice seemed as the only solution at that point, the client discovers in the third phase that there were other alternatives. After the end of the third 
phase, the client finally falls asleep for several hours. Often the need to sleep is temporarily reduced after a session. Some do experience sleep problems after their session, this can last upwards of a full month. 

It's not uncommon for a client to say “I spoke to God' and this is because when you ask yourself a question during a session, the answer you give yourself is so in-depth and so logical, you can't imagine it was actually you that thought of it. Sometimes the answers to questions are shown in visions. It's said that with ibogaine you access parts of your brain that you were never able to access before. Ibogaine can help you become more confident, take advantage of more opportunities, and reach more of your life goals.

Note: there are many safety precautions that need to be known before taking Iboga or ibogaine. Please be careful and only use ibogaine with someone that has experience. 

Possible Side Effects of Ibogaine

Some possible discomforts or side effects typically associated with therapeutic doses of ibogaine include: ataxia (temporary loss of muscle coordination), mild tremors (shaking), photosensitivity (sensitivity to light), nausea, vomiting, slight changes in blood pressure, sometimes slight back pain (possibly due to lying down for a prolonged period of time, pre-existing back pain issues and/or the lack of adequate stretching beforehand) and possible sleeplessness.

The potential for side effects and risks can be substantially minimized by avoiding any contraindicated substances prior to and during the session, proper medical screening for any pre-existing health conditions, careful monitoring of vital signs, adequate hydration with water and electrolytes prior to and during the ibogaine session, and proper pre-diet at least one week prior to the session.

Any side effects experienced normally subside 24 to 48 hours after the onset of the medicine. Some experience light tracers for upwards of one week after the session, this is why we do not allow clients to drive to and from our healing house. 

Ibogaine History

Tabernanthe iboga is a rainforest shrub native to western Central Africa. According to the Christian Bwitist genesis, the hallucinogenic properties of the iboga shrub were first discovered by the Pygmies 1000's of years ago in the interior of the jungle. The Pygmies knowledge of iboga was passed on to the neighboring people, the Apindji and the Mitsogho, who started the first Bwitist rituals. Later on, this knowledge was passed on to the Fang, the Eshira and other ethnic groups throughout southern Gabon. 

The Bwiti believe that with iboga they are able to communicate with the spirits of the dead. It is believed that while under the influence of iboga you may speak with your dead ancestors from 1000's of years ago, and you are able to access knowledge and wisdom from the beginning of time. 

The Bwiti use iboga in a number of ceremonies, as an initiation into their spiritual practice, and on a more regular basis is eaten in smaller doses in connection with rituals and tribal dances, which are usually performed at night. They also take smaller doses to increase their cognitive function, and prior to hunting to make them more alert and to give them more focus.

The root bark of the iboga plant is powerful and has unique effects. In 
Gabon it's called the Holy Wood or simply "the Wood," and it's believed to provide the keys to a magic universe, the universe of the night, of ancestors and spirits in which it communicates with, and helps it's users communicate with.

The following excerpt has been extracted from Ibogaine: A Review by Kenneth R. Alper which first appeared in Ibogaine: Proceedings of the First International Conference (The Alkaloids, Volume 56) Academic Press, 2001

  • 1864: The first description of T. iboga is published. A specimen is brought to France from Gabon. A published description of the ceremonial use of T. iboga in Gabon appears in 1885.

  • 1901: Ibogaine is isolated and crystallized from T. iboga root bark.

  • 1901-1905: The first pharmacodynamic studies of ibogaine are performed. During this period ibogaine is recommended as a treatment for “asthenia” at a dosage range of 10 to 30 mg per day.

  • 1939-1970: Ibogaine is sold in France as Lambarene, a “neuromuscular stimulant,” in 8 mg tablets, recommended for indications that include fatigue, depression, and recovery from infectious disease.

  • 1955: Harris Isbell administers doses of ibogaine of up to 300 mg to eight already detoxified morphine addicts at the U.S. Addiction Research Center in Lexington, Kentucky.

  • 1957: The description of the definitive chemical structure of ibogaine is published. The total synthesis of ibogaine is reported in 1965.

  • 1962-1963: In the United States, Howard Lotsof administers ibogaine to 1-9 individuals at dosages of 6 to 19 mg/kg, including 7 with opioid dependence who note an apparent effect on acute withdrawal symptomatology.

  • 1967-1970: The World Health Assembly classifies ibogaine with hallucinogens and stimulants as a “substance likely to cause dependency or endanger human health.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assigns ibogaine Schedule I classification. The International Olympic Committee bans ibogaine as a potential doping agent. Sales of Lambarene cease in France.

  • 1969: Dr Claudio Naranjo, a psychiatrist, receives a French patent for the psychotherapeutic use of ibogaine at a dosage of 4 to 5 mg/kg.

  • 1985: Howard Lotsof receives a U.S. patent for the use of ibogaine in opiate withdrawal. Additional patents follow for indications of dependence on cocaine and other stimulants, alcohol, nicotine, and polysubstance abuse.

  • 1988-1994: U.S. and Dutch researchers publish initial findings suggestive of the efficacy of ibogaine in animal models of addiction, including diminished opioid self-administration and withdrawal, as well as diminished cocaine self-administration.

  • 1989-1993: Treatments are conducted outside of conventional medical settings in the Netherlands involving the International Coalition of Addict Self-Help (ICASH), Dutch Addict Self Help (DASH), and NDA International.

  • 1991: Based on case reports and preclinical evidence suggesting possible efficacy, NIDA Medication Development Division (MDD) begins its ibogaine project. The major objectives of the ibogaine project are preclinical toxicological evaluation and development of a human protocol.

  • Aug.1993: FDA Advisory Panel meeting, chaired by Medical Review Officer Curtis Wright, is held to formally consider Investigational New Drug Application filed by Dr. Deborah Mash, Professor of Neurology at the University of  Miami School of Medicine. Approval is given for human trials. The approved Ibogaine dosage levels are 1, 2, and 5 mg/kg. The Phase I dose escalation study begins December 1993, but activity is eventually suspended due to lack of funds.

  • Oct. 1993-Dec. 1994: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) holds a total of four Phase I/II protocol development meetings, which include outside consultants. The resulting draft protocol calls for the single administration or fixed dosages of ibogaine of 150 and 300 mg versus placebo for the indication of cocaine dependence.

  • Mar. 1995: NIDA Ibogaine Review Meeting is held in Rockville, Maryland, chaired by the MDD Deputy Director, Dr. Frank Vocci. The possibility of NIDA funding a human trial of the efficacy of ibogaine is considered. Opinions of representatives of the pharmaceutical industry are mostly critical, and are a significant influence in the decision not to fund the trial. NIDA ends its ibogaine project but it does continue to support some preclinical research on iboga alkaloids.

  • Mid 1990’s-2001: Ibogaine becomes increasingly available in alternative settings, in view of the lack of approval in the Europe and the United States. Treatments in settings based on a conventional medical model are conducted in Panama in 1994 and 1995 and in St. Kitts from 1996 to the present. Informal scenes begin in the United States, Slovenia, Britain, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic. The Ibogaine Mailing List begins in 1997 and heralds an increasing utilization of the Internet within the ibogaine medical subculture.

Today Ibogaine clinics are becoming increasingly popular. You can find clinics throughout Mexico, Canada, and in other parts of the world. It seems the world is waking up and realizing that big pharmaceutical companies do not have our best interest in mind. Spread the word and help save lives.