Ibogaine is a psychedelic molecule naturally found in some plant species of the Apocynaceae family, such as the Tabernanthe iboga, Voacanga africana, and Tabernaemontana undulata. The effects of Ibogaine are significantly different to most other, more popular psychedelics. These differences are due to Ibogaine also having dissociative properties as well as a psychedelic effect. This produces an effect that most users describe as a dreamlike state while still being fully conscious and aware.
Table of Contents
What You Will Learn About Ibogaine
- Ibogaine is a psychedelic tryptamine with a long and deep history of use by tribes in Central and West Africa.
- The Pygmy tribe in Central Africa first discovered Ibogaine’s psychoactive effects. The first lab synthesis of Ibogaine however happened in 1956.
- The most common way of producing Ibogaine is extract it from the roots of a Tabernanthe iboga tree, which is indigenous to central west Africa.
- In 1962, Howard Lotsof was battling a heroine addiction and discovered Ibogaine’s anti-addictive properties by accident.
- One can consume Ibogaine in pure form or as a ground up powder.
- Ibogaine produces a dreamlike state while the person is still fully conscious.
- The psychedelic effect of Ibogaine breaks down into two phases: the visionary phase and the introspection phase.
- Noribogaine is thought to be responsible for treating substance abuse problems long-term.
- A dosage guideline doesn’t exist currently. According to Shulgin however a normal dose is around 1,000 milligrams.
- Ibogaine became illegal in the US in 1970.
- 11 fatalities were recorded between 1989 and 2006 out of the 3,414 Ibogaine treatments given. That’s an estimate rate of 1 in 427.
- Today, multiple studies are attempting to find derivatives of Ibogaine that do not produce psychedelic effects.
The most common way of producing Ibogaine is by extracting it from the roots of a Tabernanthe iboga tree. Iboga trees are native to central west Africa particularly in Gabon, Cameroon, and Congo. When consumed, Ibogaine creates a dreamlike state due to the psychedelic and dissociative properties of the molecule. Some users believe this dreamlike state helps them process trauma, addiction, and overall life experiences. Preliminary research links Ibogaine to helping users overcome drug and alcohol addictions. Clinical trials have not confirmed these findings.
What is Ibogaine
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive alkaloid with unique psychedelic properties. It is found in the Iboga shrub, or the Tabernanthe iboga, that is indigenous to central west Africa, especially Gabon, Cameroon and Congo. The roots and bark of the iboga shrub contains roughly 4.8% ibogaine and about 1.2% of various other indole alkaloids including ibogaline, ibogamine, and tabernanthine.The shrub grows between 1.5m to 2m in height, and can be identified by its yellow and pink flowers, and sweet pulpy fruit. The fruit produced by the shrub do not contain any psychoactive alkaloids.
When consumed, Ibogaine can produce different effects based on the amount consumed. In small amounts it produces a stimulant effect. When using larger doses, it has both psychedelic and dissociative properties. And it creates a vivid dreamlike state in which the person still remains fully conscious. Members of the Bwiti religion in West Africa use the substance in healing ceremonies, and as an initiation for new members.
A common name for Ibogaine is Iboga due to the Ibogaine-containing plant, Tabernanthe iboga. This naming can get confusing however. The plant contains various other psychoactive alkaloids aside from Ibogaine, giving it a slightly different effect than pure Ibogaine. Other names that refer to Ibogaine include “Bitter Grass,” “Leaf of God”, and “Thie-pelakano.”
Ibogaine is a tryptamine with two chiral centers, making four separate stereoisomers. A “chiral center” is an atom that has four different groups bonded to it. The date that the first extraction of Ibogaine occurred is unknown because its use was common amongst native tribes in West Africa. The first lab synthesis of Ibogaine however was described in 1956. Today, researchers are conducting studies in order to create derivatives of Ibogaine that do not produce a psychedelic effect, but are still agonists to opioid receptors. 18-methoxycoronaridine, or 18-MC, is one of these derivatives that has been recently discovered. It shows to have anti-addictive properties.
Forms & Ways of Consumption
There are two primary ways of consuming Ibogaine, either in a pure form or a ground up iboga powder. The dosages between these two forms will wildly vary as there is only about one percent psychoactive alkaloids in iboga powder. In a pure form, the powder is white and has an extremely bitter taste. Iboga powder is a light brown color because the main component is the bark and roots of the iboga tree.
Currently, Ibogaine does not have a generally accepted dosage guideline. Shulgin describes a normal dose of pure Ibogaine to be somewhere around 1,000 milligrams. Meanwhile, The Manual For Ibogaine Therapy recommends a dose between 15 mg/kg and 20 mg/kg. For an average adult weighing 68 kg, or 150 pounds, this would be between 1,020 milligrams and 1,360 milligrams.
Ibogaine causes the stimulation of various neurotransmitter systems producing its psychoactive effects. Ibogaine is first metabolized into noribogaine, the primary psychoactive metabolite. Noribogaine then acts as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, a moderate k-opioid receptor agonist, and a µ-opioid receptor agonist. Scientists believe these properties may be why some users say Ibogaine has helped them recover from various substance abuse problems.
Ibogaine has a deep history within the indigenous people of Central and West Africa. Members of the Bwiti religion would use ground up bark and roots from the iboga tree during healing ceremonies and even initiation for new members. In recent times studies are underway for its potential use in treating various addictions, particularly with opioids. The most recent studies include looking for derivatives of Ibogaine without the psychedelic effects that still act as an agonist to various opioid receptors.
The psychoactive effects of Ibogaine were first discovered by the Pygmy tribe in Central Africa. They would grind up the bark and roots of the iboga tree then consume it to produce a psychedelic experience during various ceremonies. The Pygmy tribe passed this knowledge on to the Bwiti tribe where they integrated its use into their religion. They have used ground up parts of the iboga tree in various healing ceremonies and initiations for new members.
The Bwiti tribe also passed their knowledge of the Ibogaine tree’s psychoactive properties to French explorers who first made contact with their tribe. These French explorers brought back parts of the iboga tree to Europe at the turn of the 19th century. They introduced Ibogaine to Western culture for the first time.
Discovery of Ibogaine’s Effects on Opioid Addiction
Research into Ibogaine’s potential use as a treatment for addictions to various substances started with Howard Lotsof. Lots of accidentally discovered Ibogaine’s anti-addictive properties in 1962 when he was just 19 years old and battling a heroin addiction. He went on to author a wide range of research papers on the potential use of Ibogaine as a treatment for opioid addiction and even received a few patents. During his time researching Ibogaine, Lotsof actively promoted the potential medical uses of this substance and stressed the importance of researching it further. He even authored the Ibogaine Patients’ Bill of Rights.
Important Events, Findings, Studies
One of the most important events in the recent study of Ibogaine is discovering 18-Methoxycoronaridine, or 18-MC. Stanley Glick and Martin Kuehne first discovered this molecule in 1996 as a synthetic derivative of Ibogaine. The reason 18-MC is such an important discovery is that it contains many of the positive, anti-addictive properties of Ibogaine without the associated psychedelic effect, tremors, slowed heart rate, and ataxia. Users report overcoming their ethanol, morphine, cocaine, nicotine, methamphetamine, and opioid addictions after the consumption of 18-MC. It even helps in overcoming opioid withdrawals due to its effect as an agonist to various opioid receptors.
Laws and Legal Status
Ibogaine became illegal in the US in 1970 by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act classified as a Schedule 1 hallucinogen. A Schedule 1 substance, according to the DEA, must have no currently accepted medical use, a lack of safety standards under medical supervision, and at least some potential for abuse.
In Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom Ibogaine is a prescribable medication. It is an unregulated substance in Germany. Ibogaine is illegal in Sweden and Norway.
Ibogaine is a psychedelic tryptamine with dissociative and anti-addictive properties. Once ingested, Ibogaine metabolizes into noribogaine by the liver. The scientific community currently believes that noribogaine is responsible for most of the long-lasting benefits of Ibogaine in treating substance abuse problems. This belief stems from the time these substances remain in the body. Ibogaine only has a half-life of about one hour within a person’s bloodstream, while noribogaine can last as long as an entire day. The differences in time these substances last would also explain why many users describe two distinct phases in the effects. First users experience a visual, psychedelic effect then they experience a very introspective phase.
Before we can discuss whether or not Ibogaine is toxic, we first need to define what makes a substance toxic. The levels of exposure required for a substance to cause harm to a human or animal define its toxicity. The level of toxicity measures the dose required to cause harm to a human. Even water can be toxic in too high of a dose and lethal snake venom can be non-toxic in a small enough dose. LD50 is a common measurement of toxicity, which measures the lethal dose for half of the tested organisms.
Recent trials with mice have determined the LD50 of Ibogaine to be 263 mg/kg of body mass and noribogaine has an LD50 of 630 mg/kg of body mass. While these measures help give us an idea of its toxicity, they aren’t reliable. Humans and rats have different metabolisms. As of 2019, over 30 fatalities associated with ingesting Ibogaine have been reported in the published, peer-reviewed scientific literature. Between 1989 and 2006, eleven fatalities were reported out of 3,414 Ibogaine treatment episodes giving an estimated death rate of 1 in 427.
There are potentially dangerous interactions between Ibogaine and other substances. These interactions include:
- Paroxetine or Paxil
- Anticholinergic drugs
- Any medication that can cause an irregular heartbeat
- Medications that inhibit the liver’s ability to breakdown other substances
- Cholinergic drugs
All of these substances can cause dangerous interactions that are best to avoid.
Generally, Ibogaine use with professional, medical supervision is considered a safe form of therapy for addiction recovery. The National Institute on Health funded preliminary trials to determine whether it is a neurotoxic substance. These initial trials found that it does not have neurotoxic properties but it can cause serious health effects under specific conditions.
19 deaths associated with Ibogaine use were reported from 1990 to 2008. Scientists believe a variety of factors impacted these fatalities, including pre-existing conditions and the combination of other substances with Ibogaine. Despite the various conditions that played a role in these Ibogaine related deaths, it has a similar mortality rate to that of Methadone, which is currently used to treat opioid addictions.
Common Side Effects
When consumed, Ibogaine produces a psychedelic effect that occurs in two distinct phases; the visionary phase and the introspection phase. The visionary phase lasts roughly four to six hours depending on the dose taken and causes a distinct dreamlike state of consciousness. The introspection phase causes the therapeutic effects that help users overcome their past traumas, addictions, and significant life events.
Common side effects include:
- Low Blood Pressure
- Slowed Heart Rate
- Difficulty Breathing
- Temporary Paralysis
Ibogaine has the potential to cause serious adverse effects. Due to the effect it has on a user’s heart rate, any pre-existing heart conditions can carry serious risks. Any impairment in liver or kidney function can also be dangerous due to the strain metabolizing Ibogaine puts on these organs. Ibogaine can exacerbate various psychiatric conditions.
Despite the possible effects, it has as a potential treatment for various addictions. It does not attenuate the withdrawal symptoms of benzodiazepines and alcohol which can potentially be lethal. There is also a serious risk in the way Ibogaine interacts with the use of opiates. It can potentiate the effects of opiates by enhancing opiate signaling which carries a serious risk of overdose. Ibogaine use can result in fatality. The current death rate of Ibogaine use is estimated to be 1 in 427 patients.
Medical and Therapeutic Uses
Currently, Ibogaine studies are underway for its potential as a treatment for addictions to various substances. These studies suggest the anti-addictive properties come from the introspective effects associated with the substance, and the way it acts as an agonist to various opioid receptors and serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
While there are risks associated with Ibogaine, it is a legally prescribable substance in various countries. There are a number of treatment clinics that help people overcome addiction with the help of Ibogaine. These clinics will pre-screen their patients for potential interactions that could cause health risks and follow a strict set of medical guidelines. Treatment at these clinics can last over a week to screen their patients, administer Ibogaine, and provide support to aid in reflection and integrating what the user learned into their day-to-day life.
Does Ibogaine Degrade?
Pure Ibogaine in a powder form is an extremely stable compound when stored under proper conditions and can potentially last indefinitely. However when stored in a solution of water or alcohol, it will degrade at a rapid rate, potentially in just a few days. Iboga bark or roots can get moldy and deteriorates just like any other wood. If dried and stored in a cool, dark place it lasts far longer than if wet in a warm environment. When wet, it can get moldy and degrade in just a week’s time.
How to Store Ibogaine ?
For best results, store Ibogaine in a pure, solid form. When in a solid form, there isn’t much need for concern about the degradation of the substance. It is still best however to store it in a cool, dark, and dry location. It is not recommended to store Ibogaine in a solution as it will degrade at a much higher rate than in a solid form. Thus, Iboga bark and roots are best stored in a cool, dark, dry place after the wood itself is fully dried.
What Does Ibogaine Look Like?
Pure, solid Ibogaine is a white powder with a bitter taste. Ground-up iboga bark and roots becomes a light brown powder.
Contributor| Cort Honey
This Ibogaine guide is for educational purposes only. While it is our belief that choosing to consume psychedelics is an inalienable human right, many psychedelic substances are currently illegal in the United States.
Our substance guides provide the public with the most accurate and reliable information about psychedelic substances that currently exist. We have compiled research, scientific studies as well as experiences and thoughts from the psychedelic community. We do not include all the scientific research and studies. Rather, we curate each our guides to reflect the most relevant insight backed by the most credible evidence. That being said, we are just at the beginning of studying these substances, and everyday we are learning something new. Knowledge is power! Have a bite. If you have relevant information or updates concerning the research and studies of psychedelic substances, please reach out to [email protected]. We appreciate your contribution. –RS