Ibogaine May Be Ultimate Cure For Addiction

  1. Perception Addict

    Could the root of an African shrub hold the key to getting millions of addicts off heroin, coke, and crack - oh, yeah, and cure alcoholism in its spare time? Can a single dose of an extract from the mysterious shrub's root bark be worth years on a therapist's couch?

    Some of the answers may soon be found in a three-bedroom house on the Sunshine Coast. Tucked away there on a hill, with a stunning view of the ocean and surrounded by tall trees, is the Iboga Therapy House.

    Forty years after globetrotting backpackers introduced a substance called ibogaine into the U.S. drug culture, the extract from western Africa's Tabernanthe iboga shrub has become an underground rage among drug-addled Hollywood celebs willing to plunk down between $3,500 and $10,000 for ibogaine treatment at any one of about a dozen unregulated clinics worldwide, including the one in B.C.

    Because ibogaine is illegal in the U.S. - one of just three countries to ban the substance, along with Belgium and Switzerland - clients have to travel to clinics in countries such as Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Slovenia for an "ibogaine experience".

    Advocates liken the miracle drug - which can unleash a reality-shattering trip so powerful it has been described as "dying and going to hell 1,000 times" - to the Holy Grail of addiction cures, comparable in importance to the discovery of penicillin. Although ibogaine's alleged ability to quickly cure opiate addiction without withdrawal symptoms was discovered relatively recently, the substance has long been used in Gabon by hunters to stay alert and, in larger doses, in week-long sacred ceremonies in the Bwiti religion.

    Yet despite the extraordinary claims about ibogaine's powers, a B.C. study launched last February is the first time the drug's therapeutic benefits for opiate addiction are being measured systematically in a public investigation. ( Other clinics haven't released data. )

    Preliminary results from the Sunshine Coast clinic have justified much of the hype. "I've witnessed people's lives being turned around," said Leah Martin, one of the study leaders. Of 20 pre-study clients who took ibogaine at the facility in 2004, 13 were found to be abstaining when evaluated later, after an average interval of six months. The abstainers included six out of seven cocaine or crack addicts, three of eight opiate addicts and four of five people with other addictions, including to meth and multiple substances.

    With an overall abstinence rate of 65 percent, ibogaine does way better than the 10-percent average of conventional drug-treatment programs, Martin said. What's more, the clients at the B.C. facility are usually the hardest cases.

    "People who contact the Iboga Therapy House have already done every type of program in their city and are scouring the Internet [for help]. They've been in detox multiple times and are highly resistant to other therapy. They say, 'This is my last hope,'" she said.

    Ibogaine works in two ways. It eliminates cravings for heroin and other drugs in many people, but it also often works at a deeper level, getting them to revisit life experiences good and bad and helping many find ways to heal and ensure cravings don't come back. Scientists say it's like hitting a reset button for your brain. Traces of the drug remain in the body for up to six months, continuing to ward off addictive urges in unknown ways. "It truly is its own category [of drug]," Martin said. "Right after, it's common for people to say, 'Whoa, what was that?' But a month later, people might wake up and remember something and be able to move forward."

    Ibogaine appears to work on "every neurotransmitter system we know about", Kenneth Alper, a psychiatry professor at New York University School of Medicine, told the Journal of the American Medical Association in a 2002 story on ibogaine. Alper, who is also a co-investigator in the B.C. study, has called the use of ibogaine "one of the biggest paradigm shifts regarding treatment for addiction in the span of my career".

    In a testimonial on the Iboga Therapy House's Web site, one client says of the trip: "I pretty much died to my old self. I yelled, I kicked, I screamed ( inside myself ) but this new knowledge is too powerful to ignore." Says another: "I believe Iboga brings you into and through the land of the dead, to the land of the Gods."

    The Georgia Straight connected with Martin early one morning near the end of her 8 p.m.-to-8 a.m. shift as a program worker at a Downtown Eastside residential detox centre run by the Portland Hotel Community Services Society. She spoke about her own ibogaine trip: "I felt as a facilitator I should know what it was like, to be able to relate."

    An ibogaine experience usually lasts 24 to 36 hours, most of which is, typically, spent on your back because of impaired muscle coordination and perception. The first four hours usually involve plenty of vomiting, coupled with hallucinations and strange physical sensations. This isn't a drug for clubland.

    Next is eight hours of what Martin called the "cognitive phase: the beginning stages of insights. You're remembering things or events. It tells a very interesting story of yourself and your life."

    The intense visions are dreamlike, Martin said, but "if you find yourself in a vision you don't like, you can just open your eyes. There is a lot of randomness along with insights. It truly was a reflection of my mind and the things I obsess about. I laughed at myself a lot, realizing how ridiculous people can be."

    This is the phase that can give people with addictions deep new insights into their troubles. "If you had trauma, people can relive that. After they're traumatized, sometimes they shut themselves off from the pain, and that's why they adopt certain habits. But to be able to see it in a healing way [with ibogaine] can be beneficial."

    Then comes another 12 to 24 hours of "residual stimulation" as the person keeps dreaming but slowly comes down, often falling asleep.

    Advocates say the drug isn't addictive itself partly because the trip is so hellacious. "It is not a recreational drug," said Rick Doblin, president of the California-based Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, which is helping to fund the Iboga Therapy House study. Doblin is also the principal investigator.

    The ibogaine work is just one of MAPS's stable of groundbreaking research projects. The group is also funding the first-ever studies of therapy involving ecstasy, LSD, and magic mushrooms to deal with mental-health issues like posttraumatic stress, end-of-life anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The U.S. studies all have an official okay from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and even of the drug warriors at the Drug Enforcement Agency, and are attracting interest from the U.S. military for treating PTSD among Iraq vets.

    Early results show ecstasy is not only safe for therapeutic purposes, but it can also help people who don't respond to conventional therapy or treatment with the pharmaceutical drugs normally given for posttraumatic stress: Zoloft and Paxil. Doblin described the ecstasy results as "dramatic" far better than those from the standard treatments.

    The work has still met ferocious resistance from the DEA, however. MAPS is battling the agency in court to get permission for scientists to grow marijuana in order to study its use for pain relief, control of nausea, and other medical purposes. Last February, a judge ruled in MAPS's favour, but the DEA has filed a series of objections, citing security concerns and likening Doblin to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.

    Speaking over the phone from his home in Boston, Doblin said he owes much of his doggedness and success to his own ibogaine trip in 1985, a year before he founded MAPS. "I feel it's been a major contributor to what I've been able to accomplish," he said, describing the experience as "lasting, powerful and very positive, although at the time it was horrendous".

    Back then, already active in drug-policy reform, he said he suffered from a neurosis common to many activists "a certain arrogance, that we know the better world". An underground therapist suggested ibogaine could help him grow personally and become a more effective activist.

    Doblin took it one morning at the oceanfront house of a therapist, who stayed at his side. He lay in bed with his eyes closed all day, vomiting constantly, coughing and feeling like he was choking. The barf brought out complex emotions: "a line between self-criticism, self-perception, and self-hatred". He started to blame his intense nausea on his inability to just chill out and unwind. "I thought this was all my doing that I couldn't relax. If only I was better, I could be a better tripper," he said. Then came realization: here was a metaphor for his struggles with his arrogance. "I was crucified on the cross of my own self-perfectionism," he said, laughing.

    Twelve hours later, the stars came out, his guts relaxed, the upchucking stopped and everything got good. "I had one of the most blissful nights of my life. It felt like transcendence through exhaustion," he said. "I'm forever grateful for that experience. I think about it often."

    The experience helped Doblin work out the arrogance thing; it also enabled him to develop the confidence to strike out and found MAPS. Yet he doesn't believe it's the easy wonder drug some suggest, and he supported the B.C. study partly because of the underground myths about ibogaine. "We've been deluded for a long time with the miracle-cure approach," he said.

    One problem is many ibogaine clinics that offer the expensive treatment are happy to let potential clients believe it will solve all their problems, Doblin said. The clinics have little incentive to follow-up with clients or study the treatment's effectiveness, which, he said, is widely overestimated.

    First off, he said ibogaine isn't for everyone. It requires one to be "open to the self-reflection that ibogaine permits. It takes a certain courage to go through an ibogaine experience." Even for these folks, he said, the trip has to be supported by aftercare and, possibly, a second dose.

    There may also be safety concerns. About a dozen deaths have occurred during the 3,600 recorded ibogaine treatments that have taken place outside Africa since 1990. Advocates say pharmaceutical drugs also cause adverse reactions. Also, coroner reports in most of the cases placed the blame not on ibogaine, but on conditions like heart or liver disease and, in one case, a man choking on his vomit while eating a sandwich after the session had ended.

    Just the same, the Iboga Therapy House screens potential clients for several medical conditions like ulcers, liver problems, blood clots, and heart trouble. Patients start with a small test dose and are observed for an hour for adverse reactions before the rest of the gram-sized full dose is given.

    Gone, however, are the halcyon days when the clinic used to offer free ibogaine. In 2005, its founder, Vancouver pot entrepreneur Marc Emery, ran out of cash to fund the facility, so it had to close. Last February, the clinic reopened with money from MAPS. It now hopes to become self-sustaining by charging $4,700 for a five- to seven-day treatment session for dependence on heroin, methadone, and other opiates, cocaine, crack, or alcohol. ( Shorter, cheaper sessions are also offered for spiritual or strictly therapeutic trips. )

    Aside from the ibogaine, which the clinic buys for $700 a dose from a distributor in Spain, the sessions include therapy, massage, acupuncture, mild yoga, and elements of the traditional Bwiti ceremony to set the mood for the ibogaine session. Only one client or couple stays at the house at any time, and staff are on hand around the clock to monitor them.

    Doblin said the B.C. ibogaine clinic is inexpensive when compared to hospital programs. Besides that, the cost doesn't seem high compared to addiction's drain on people and society. Almost 10 percent of the B.C. government's budget is spent on substance abuse and problem gambling, according to a 2005 drug-policy report by the City of Vancouver. That report recommended alternative treatments for drug dependency, including the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs like peyote and ayahuasca.

    Although ibogaine wasn't mentioned specifically, Zarina Mulla, a city drug-policy planner and report coauthor, spoke enthusiastically about it in a phone interview from her office.

    "It helps users analyze some of the issues behind the drug abuse. Perhaps this is the most important thing because you can relapse and go back to the drug," she commented.

    Mulla said alternative approaches are vital at a time when the Harper government has announced a new Canadian drug policy modelled on the U.S. police-and-prisons approach, which she called "a failure...There's such a large amount of money for enforcement [in the Harper policy] and none for harm reduction and only a little for prevention and treatment."

    Leah Martin, for her part, said she's not holding out hope for any federal funds for the ibogaine clinic. It did apply once, but was rejected. "They were looking for teens that do [drug-education] tables at raves. We were a bit too obscure for them. People generally don't know about [ibogaine]."

    And in the current climate, that's not all bad. "We're lucky ibogaine is unscheduled [not banned] in Canada. We play our cards so we kind of stay off the radar."


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  1. 23smooches
    It would be very nice if Ibogaine cured addiction to the "ugly" psychoactives like heroin and stuff. But, it will also create a real big demand for Ibogaine and there is money to be made... (invest).........
  2. Orchid_Suspiria
    Ibogaine cure or huge ripoff and bigtime risk?Swim wouldn't risk it himself personally.Paying all that money not only to fly out to some clinic and then for the treatment itself and find that it doesn't work or that it is actually a bad experience.Nope wouldn't advise it.
  3. 23smooches
    Well I think the only way to quit doing something that is bad, is to just stop. Or maybe even not do it in the first place. Paying someone else to help isnt going to help you overcome an addiction, you have to make an effort and you hae to want to stop.
  4. Perception Addict
    The interesting thing about ibogaine is that it acts upon several receptors responsible for addictions of various substances, those responsible for opiate, nicotine, and some other thing swim can't remember but is going to look up and edit in later (as well as adding a source). Therefore, what little scientific research has been able to be conducted shows that it's not just that people experience a lifechanging event that makes them rethink their addiction, but that the drug really does bind to those receptor sites, removing their desire for the substance. I know it's terrible to say this with no source and i swear i'll look it up soon.

    While I agree that that it's hard to trust a clinic that offers a 'miracle cure' for a great deal of money, this is not just a feel good way to make drugs look more positive than negative, there's real, legit research behind it. Ibogaine is a fascinating and complicated substance, and if anyone knows more about it, I'd be very interested to hear it. I read a reputable book that told me the info i loosely tried to recall above, and ever since i've been sort of in awe of how cool it is.
  5. Motumba
    Worked for me and still does'
    Killed 23 years of addiction to Methadon H meth coke benzos alcohol anti-depressants'
    I now help folks thorugh the process'

    blessed be'


    It woks by resetting the nmda receptors in the brain'
    thses have been found to be the receptors that trigger impulses to use drugs'
    They get hard wired by the subtances used'
    Ibogaine can help reset these receptors and eleviate craving and retardent withrwal'
  6. bcubed
    I'd be interested to know how the "success rates" were determined. Some prior studies (not of ibogaine) were so loosely run that long-term abstinance was more or less a phone call: "You still clean? Really? O.k., we'll check back in a month."

    It would be nice to see a study with a very large sample size, set up in adherence to all the estabilshed medical protocols (though it seems hard to design a double-blind study!)

    Incidentally, look up similar properties in dextromethorphan hBr (DXM) in this http://drugs-forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=17606&highlight=dxm+addiction post and others. I've conducted my own small-sample test (N=1) on its effaciacy W/R/T addiction, and results seem encouraging at the 6 mo. point (though I'm waiting for my patient's outcome at 1yr before I make any premature posts).
  7. Felonious Skunk
    Good to hear that brother Motumba. SWIM's encounter with the sacrament is happening on Friday night. He's scared but leaving his mind open and his heart in the hands of Iboga. :)
  8. psyche
    SWIM thinks ibogaine is interesting substance, and one that really works. Too bad that LSD and mushrooms have that much recreational potential and historical stigma to carry; they would be also have a great potential, but the DEA is always fighting furiously against their research, though FDA usually has more open-minded approach. Now ibogaine doesn't have recreational potential, so the DEA hasn't got anything against it. SWIM hates that this kind of aspects affect the medicinal potential of a substance in our society, but is glad at the same time that ibogaine get's the attention it deserves. Hopefully it opens doors for other psychedelics and cannabis too.
  9. Felonious Skunk
    ^^^^ The DEA has a lot against ibogaine.

    1. Notice what countries proscribe it. The two red flags are the USA and Switzerland. What do those two have in common? You guessed it: Big Pharmacy.

    I don't know what the story with Belgium is, but I suspect that it has financial interests threatened by ibogaine therapies.

    2. If an African hallucinogen were to ever be accepted in traditional medical circles as being a therapeutic agent for the treatment of substance dependency and psychiatric disorders, all the nonsense the DEA has regurgitated for the last 40 years about other psychedelics would be discredited (of course it already has--but not in the mainstream).

    As with medical marijuana, the DEA has a lot to lose if ibogaine becomes an accepted therapeutic agent.
  10. psyche
    Strange. I remember reading the article to noticing to my amazement that dea isn't so much against this. Now that I reread it, it says no such thing.
    Yeah, you're right. The whole dogma of modern medication relies on medicines that has fairly known action in brain and then they try to link it with certain healing properties and oppositely, neurological dysfunctions. Psychedelic medicines, which' effect bases on psychological effect more than a neurological action, doesn't fit in very well. It seems more like a woodoo -thingie to narrowminded science believers. And the worst part is that you can't patent nature. These remedies seem vague and useless in the eyes of Big pharma. And they are old. Development goes in a linear manner, doesn't it. New is better than old. Wrong. I beleive that at some time these kind of medications get the honor they deserve, and the whole era of 20th century is regarded in history books as a time of fast technical development, but also of confusion and blind faith in science.
  11. Bajeda
    I wish that were true.... The US has some screwed up positions/policies regarding biotechnology due to the merger of science and capitalism and the subsequent explosion of the industry during the latter half of the last century.

    In the US at least, you can patent anything that is not an entire human being. All other patent laws apply, but if there are no confounding factors you can patent whatever.

    In fact, about twenty percent of your genetic makeup is probably already patented. Thanks to a retarded Supreme Court ruling back in 1980, all you have to do is isolate a gene or protein and you can claim the rights to it. This makes biotech research an insanely expensive endeavour as you now have to pay the patent owner before you can use a particular material or process (the process of isolation is also patented), so researchers need huge budgets or to be working with a big corporation that owns plenty of patents if they want to further their work.

    Don't even get me started on biopiracy and bioprospecting, which are other products of the rampant capitalization of science.

    Some reading to do on the subject if anyone is interested.

    Patenting and Human Beings

    The Basics of US Patent Policy and Genetics

    Or, for further reading...

    D. Kevles, “Patenting Life: A historical overview of law, interests, and ethics” (2001)

    P. Schuler, “Biopiracy and commercialization of ethnobotanical knowledge,” in J.M. Finger and P. Schuler (eds.), Poor people’s knowledge (Oxford University Press/World Bank, 2004), 159-81.

    U.S. Supreme Court, Diamond, Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks vs. Chakrabarty, decided June 16, 1980.

    Sorry for this depressing off-topic addition to the thread. :s
  12. Motumba
    Well swim knows of treatment centres world wide, and the succes rate is good'
    You got to do a lot of work, but Ibogaine does resett nmda receptors, whitewalling body memory'
    You keep your memeory but yourbody loses the emotional attachment to the memories'
    Your gyts can't squirm for gear even if you see it cos yourbody does not remember the emotion that triggers the desire'

    Awesome plant in my book'

    Just like many others'

    The DEA cand othe ragencies are stuffed if they say it don't work, because the under4world of Ibogaine/iboga is alive and kicking wrld wide and will not deminish in the near future but grow because of peoples eventually getting pissed off at a system that is only intereste in them for of the the money they can make'
    Pharm/doctors and all the rest of the system of chaos that feeds each ther with you5r evils and demons'

    Ez now'

  13. AquafinaOrbit
    Swim is not even addicted to any substances and this sounds like something they would like to take.
  14. Felonious Skunk
    ^^^^ SWIM is anticipating the introspective/psychotherapeutic facet of ibogaine as much as he is the receptor reset.

    T-20 hours.
  15. xudface
    SWIM was in a similar position last year and had a similar thought and then actually went through with it. 4 hours into the trip he seriously regretted this decision! it was a deeply disturbing and frightening experience, both physically and mentally, and is probably the 2nd worst drug related experience he has ever had. that said, it was very interesting from a neutral perspective.

    for whatever reason, it resulted in SWIM not wanting to take any drugs for a couple of months afterwards. this really is the "dark side" of psychedelia, as far is SWIM is concerned.
  16. Motumba
    Wow see'

    another person' didn't use after for months'
    Good one bro' power to you'

    Hard experience for sure' it has to be to stand above all of your previous experiences, no? As they say "to pail in comparison to the Iboga experience, all prior experiences are assimilated and seen for of what they are'
    Memory and experiences'
    We live in the now, but our silly minds keeps trawling back and forth, from past to future wasting valuable effort and channeling energies the wrong way'
    To sit in the now and look backwards at ones past is tireing for sure'
    To not to be able make any sence of it is complete chaos'
    Iboga can allow one to attain the hight possible to see the whole of ones past objectively without the tangle of emotion'
    You feel fear, tell it to go away' or look to understand it' You have the choice, not the emotion' you control the emotion, not the emotion controls you'
    You feed fear and fear will fuckin eat you'

    All these journeys are of what you take with you through mind and psychi'

    So the trick is to sit exactly in the now looking at the now'

    Any other way of looking just distorts everything because your memories and projections are just that, etheric, untouchable, only seen through emotion'

    I love these teacher plants they imbibie of one such insight into the working of mind and psychi'

    Great posts folks'

    Keep up all your lifes works, and make a good job of life'

    blessed be'

    Motumba' :+.:+:
  17. xudface
    well i'm not really sure the experience i talked about should really be considered a good one. the abstinence that followed was brought about essentially by fear of a repeat of the incident, and a general feeling of "maybe i need to take a step back from all this" which i think is natural after experiencing something unpleasant. i'm not sure that prevention through the use of fear is a very healthy idea.

    the same results could probably be reached by putting the subject through some non-drug related traumatic, despair inducing and drawn out experience.

    if the chemical does actually a cause a reduction in physical cravings though then i suppose that is pretty useful. it just seems a bit of a shame that you have to go through the depths of despair to achieve this!
  18. Bajeda
    Maybe it is necessary. If you don't go through the pain you might not take the whole ordeal as seriously. Addiction is physical and psychological, and I don't think you can just take care of one and expect the other to go away just like that.
  19. xudface
    fair point.

    does anyone know of any chemicals that only suppress the physical addiction? these could be used in conjunction with a more predictable and stable solution like some kind of therapy perhaps. i'm only pushing it because SWIM found the mental effects to be so disturbing and upsetting!
  20. Motumba

    Blue Lilly extract (Apomorphine')

    Not addictive in it's own right, bonds to the benzodiazapine receptors like chlorapromazine'

    Reduces withdrawal symptoms to a bearable level'
    Aids in sleep, stops restless leg syndrome'

    Also Amanita Muscaria' aids in sleep and recorecting acetylecoline levels in the brain, working as an anti-depressant and mood elevator, also works as a pain killer in withdrawal'
    Psylosibin mushrooms' small doses, increase nitrogen to aid in healing and also helps clean cells from the inside out, and unload psychological rubbish'

    All you will be left with is the craving after'

    Retardent withdrawal was the reason swim partook of Iboga, not because the withdrawal was painful'

    blessed be'

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