AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

Deep within Africa, in Gabon, there grows a plant which is shining a hopeful light on serious drug addiction. In the bark around the roots of the Tabernanthe Iboga plant, more commonly known as iboga, there is a compound called ibogaine, which acts as an “addiction interrupter”. It resets the habitual patterns of addiction through a process that seems near miraculous. Since its accidental discovery in the 1960s, ibogaine has been passionately promoted by a handful of scientists and former addicts, and yet it is illegal in most countries. The trouble is that ibogaine, in its natural form, has powerful psychedelic properties. On top of that, there have been a few deaths during therapy using this controversial drug, and it can have severe side-effects.

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It came from Africa

The Bwiti tribe of Gabon has used ibogaine for centuries as a ritual and ceremonial sacrament. They drink a concoction containing some of the iboga plant as part of an initiation ceremony, where they enter into a spiritual realm and connect with their ancestors. Once the hallucinogenic effects wear off, they are seen to have been reborn with a strengthened connection to the ancestral realm; reborn as men instead of boys. Somehow, this powerful substance made its way out of Gabon and into the hands of an American chemist. In 1962, a heroin addict named Howard Lotsof decided to take some ibogaine, in search of a long psychedelic trip, but when he woke up the next morning, he found, to his surprise, that he did not crave heroin anymore. It took only one dose of ibogaine for him to remain drug-free

Trumping conventional therapies

There are a few things that set ibogaine apart from conventional forms of drug addiction treatments. Over thousands of treatment sessions, ibogaine was found to be extremely successful treating dependency on the toughest of drugs to quit, notably heroin, crack cocaine, methamphetamines, and methadone.

In conventional heroin treatment, users are weaned off their heroin dependency by switching them over to methadone, another opiate but with less addiction potential and with lighter withdrawal symptoms than heroin. Rehab patients report that they are more able to function in society when using methadone than when using heroin. While being a controlled substance, methadone is harmful and addictive in itself, and dependency has led to the deaths of many people in treatment. Methadone and similar opiate-derived rehabilitation drugs are seen as an acceptable form of treatment for chemical drug addiction, but it is still doesn’t remove the root of the problem.

Ibogaine seems to provide the missing link. The psychedelic, spiritual aspect that comes into play during the treatment opens up an emotional space in addicts that allows them to objectively observe specific memories in their life, and identify the root of their addictive behavior. The insight gained during the inner ibogaine-fueled journey helps patients come to terms with their addiction on an emotional level.

The chemical working of the ibogaine shuts off the addiction for the patient on a physical level, allowing them a window period with no withdrawal symptoms during which they can focus on therapy to restructure their lives and set new goals to achieve going forward in a drug-free life.

Blocked by big pharma

For a treatment that has instant results, works after a single treatment, cures the patient with virtually no withdrawal symptoms, and has a much higher success rate than conventional treatments, it seems surprising that ibogaine is still largely unknown and unrecognized by most medical practitioners. One possible reason which is strongly rooted in our capitalist society is ibogaine provides a cure for addiction, and pharmaceutical companies cannot profit from it. They are much more interested in a treatment like methadone, which will ensure that patients return indefinitely for another (but legal) drug.

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About the Author: Marilu Snyders is a freelance writer who specialises in a variety of topics, including those that deal with health and alternative remedies for particularly thorny problems.


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