What you need to know about ibogaine, a psychedelic

Ibogaine, a natural psychoactive compound, comes from the iboga tree, a rainforest shrub native to Central Africa. The medicine comes from the bark of the root, which is crushed and consumed in powder form or administered in extracted form.

Iboga has long been used for medicinal and ritual purposes in Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo. After its discovery by French and Belgian explorers in the 19th century, it was sold as a stimulant in France. In recent decades, ibogaine has shown promise in treating opioid addiction, with several small studies suggesting that between one-third and two-thirds of patients who undergo treatment achieve sobriety after a single session. Some researchers have been studying The potential of ibogaine. to treat traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ibogaine calms the agonizing symptoms of opioid withdrawal and also appears to reduce the desire to use drugs, at least initially. Scientists are still trying to understand how it works against addiction, but many believe that ibogaine encourages the creation of new neurons and neuroplasticity, a rewiring of the brain that gives patients new insights into the self-destructive behavior and unresolved trauma they experience. sustains it.

“Ibogaine appears to be resetting the brain pharmacologically and, at the same time, is producing a deep psychological understanding of the underlying drivers of addiction,” said Dr. Joseph Peter Barsuglia, a clinical and research psychologist who advises ibogaine clinics. in Mexico.

No. In the United States, ibogaine is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, like heroin and other drugs, which are considered to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” according to the Agency. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Americans who want to access ibogaine therapy must travel to countries where it is legal or unregulated, including Mexico, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.

It’s not cheap either: private clinics typically charge between $5,000 and $15,000 for a single treatment, not including airfare.

Ibogaine has the potential to cause death. cardiac arrhythmia. At least two dozen deaths have been associated with ibogaine in recent decades, a concern that led the Food and Drug Administration to end federal research in the late 1990s. Experts say the risks can be manage effectively by ruling out high-risk patients, administering magnesium before and during treatments, and ensuring patients are continuously monitored by electrocardiogram.

Ibogaine is not a club drug. A treatment session can be exhausting and can last more than 24 hours. It often requires a willingness to confront traumatic events from the past. Participants compare the trip to a lucid dream that forces them to review painful life experiences. “Suddenly you have access to this enormous storehouse of information that has been accumulating throughout our lives, and you can see it in a more objective way,” said Dr. Martin Polanco, a psychedelic researcher at Mission Within, an organization. who works with Special Operations veterans.

Much of the existing data on the effectiveness of ibogaine comes from of little studies and has not been tested in clinical trials with control groups given placebos, the gold standard in medical research. But in Brazil, where doctors have been using ibogaine to treat crack addiction for three decades, researchers have reported a 60 percent success rate among patients who were followed for several months after therapy.

Even if the FDA gave the green light to clinical trials (a move some experts consider unlikely given ibogaine’s cardiac risks), any approval would take years.