Ibogaine is a potent psychoactive alkaloid found in the root bark of the West African iboga plant, which is renowned for its ability to remove withdrawal symptoms from opioids and other drugs - although some people do still experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) after ibogaine treatment. Its anti-addictive properties were first discovered in 1962, when a 19-year-old heroin addict named Howard Lotsof experimented with ibogaine in his New York apartment, and found that this caused his withdrawal symptoms to completely vanish. A number of studies have since confirmed this phenomenon, with numerous anecdotal reports indicating that a single dose of ibogaine is often sufficient to fully eliminate withdrawals in opioid-dependent individuals.


Though more research is needed to uncover the precise neurological mechanisms by which ibogaine achieves this effect, initial studies have revealed that it binds with mu-opioid receptors in the brain, possibly contributing to its anti-addictive properties. Ibogaine has also been found to block serotonin and dopamine reuptake sites, leading to greater emotional regulation.


Because of its amazing detox capabilities, ibogaine is often described as a ‘magic bullet’ for addiction. However, the reality is not that simple, and many people who get clean through ibogaine later relapse because of a lack of knowledge about how to work with this amazing compound. When used correctly, ibogaine is so much more than just a detox agent; it is a tool for connection, enabling people to attain a sense of purpose and meaning in life, become more comfortable with who they are and ultimately remove the need to self-medicate.


How to use ibogaine


The Bwiti and other native communities that traditionally use iboga have become highly skilled at accessing its healing power, and as a result have managed to successfully maintain the mental and emotional health of community members. In these tribal settings, initiates undergo a prolonged period of preparation during which they learn to use iboga as a tool to connect to the power of their ancestors and rediscover their true spiritual identity. In doing so, individuals come to see themselves as a link in an ancestral chain and attain a sense of belonging. Those who have lost their way in life are thereby brought back onto a meaningful life path, and are able to reframe their personal narrative so as to enhance their sense of self-worth.


Healing therefore comes about via a lasting transformation of consciousness that eliminates negative mental narratives, raises self-esteem and provides a sense of purpose, meaning and identity. All of these are essential for long-term recovery from addiction, which is why it is important to replicate the shamanic modality if ibogaine is to be used for this purpose in the West.


Some assistance and plenty of preparation is needed, but by approaching ibogaine treatment with the right intentionality and the necessary level of respect and reverence, it is possible to bring about a durable transformation of consciousness and start living a more fulfilling life, free from the need to self-medicate.


For guidance on how to use ibogaine to facilitate recovery from addiction, contact us at info@ibogainecounselling.org or call us on +44 7873 331 882 or +44 7535 618 189.