Iboga is a plant native to the West-Central Africa region. The roots contain the alkaloid ibogaine, and it is used in the spiritual practice of Bwiti. Ibogaine causes an intense psychedelic experience when taken in sufficient amounts. The root bark is pulverized or shredded and taken in what is known a “flood dose” to send them on the psychedelic journey. Iboga is known as “the plant that helps men see the dead,” and is very much a part of the lives of the West-Central African natives, as much as ayahuasca is a part of the lives of the native Amazonian Indians.
Now, it has been used in a shamanic context for ages by the native people of the Bwiti faith. However, in modern times it finds use for its anti-addictive powers. It has been known to assuage addictions to very hard substances such as heroin and cocaine, with no withdrawal symptoms and rare cases of relapse. It is unbelievable to think that this humble little root can completely quell the body’s requirement for opiates in an addicted person, yet it is true.
The anti-addictive properties were accidentally discovered by Howard Lotsof in 1962 at the age of 19, who was himself a heroin addict at the time. After trying the plant, he noted a significant reduction in craving and withdrawal symptoms. He took it for testing, and since then multiple clinics have been opened around the world to help treat addiction using the iboga plant.
The anti-addictive effect is two-fold. Physically, it repairs the kappa-opioid receptors that have been damaged by opiates (such as heroin) which causes the addiction in the first place (see below video). The other thing is, of course, the psychedelic journey. It brings to the forefront the reasons that may have caused addiction in the first place, or throws light on the effects it is having, or some kind of emotional jolt; basically it forces you to face the thing, whatever it is, and deal with it, which is what psychedelics do. Hence the treatment is quite effective in most cases.
Iboga treatment is, of course, banned in the United States. The current method of treating opiate addiction is to get the patient addicted to another opiate, such as methadone. We here at The Spirit Rebooted are not medical experts, but that seems counterintuitive to us. Iboga has a significantly higher success rate than rehab clinics. And to think, it’s just a humble little shamanic plant from Africa.
It is not surprising, however, because iboga is used in a shamanic context by the Bwiti people. It is not a recreational drug (though the root is known to be chewed in small quantities to serve as a stimulant). Psychedelics, such as ayahuasca and others, have been known for millennia to be healers, and long since suspected to be able to cure addiction and psychological conditions. Testing, however, is strictly prohibited in most countries.
Below are two videos produced by the Oka Center for ibogaine treatment of addiction. We are not promoting them, they are just really good, short videos. The first talks about what ibogaine is, and the second briefly details how it helps cure addiction.