What if the only thing that stood between addiction and recovery was a trip to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, and a single dose of a potent psychedelic drug? Ibogaine is one such drug.
Medical experts and researchers have been studying the effectiveness of ibogaine therapy as an alternative to traditional treatment for opiate dependency, alcohol abuse, and other addictive behaviors.
Research has shown that a single dose of ibogaine can significantly reduce or end withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and addictive behaviors. Additionally, there is no potential for abuse due to the non-addictive nature of ibogaine therapy.
What is Ibogaine?
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive compound that is extracted from a variety of plant sources, most notably the Tabernanthe iboga. Iboga has been used in low doses for centuries to combat fatigue and hunger and in higher doses for healing and ceremonial purposes in West Central Africa.
Bentham Science publisher Current Drug Abuse Reviews reported that iboga was first introduced to Western cultures in 1864. The alkaloid we now know as ibogaine was first crystallized from extracts of the plant’s bark in 1900. Its pharmacological properties were subsequently explored.
Ibogaine was marketed in France from 1939 to 1970 to treat conditions such as depression, fatigue, and infectious disease.
Ibogaine, Psychotherapy, and Addiction
As Current Drug Abuse Reviews reported, ibogaine “[has] been used as an adjunct to psychotherapy as early as the 1950s.” Additionally, in recent decades ibogaine has been the subject of numerous clinical research studies that investigated its efficacy for the treatment of addiction to opiates and other substances.
In the late 1950s through the 1960s, psychiatrists and psychotherapists worked with a variety of psychedelic substances like ibogaine the help their patients retrieve personal memories and fantasies. This retrieval helped them facilitate the closure of previously unresolved conflicts.
The discovery of ibogaine’s anti-addictive properties is attributed to American scientific researcher Howard Lotsof in 1962. A habitual user of heroin, he organized a group that met in New York City to study the effects and possible psychotherapeutic benefits of a variety of psychoactive drugs.
Lotsof and other members of the group ingested ibogaine as part of that study conducted in 1962. Lotsof reported in the aftermath of his 30-hour initial ibogaine experience that he became aware that he did not suffer from any cravings or withdrawal symptoms from heroin.
“Afterwards, I was walking, and I looked at this tree, and as I looked at it, I realized I no longer had any fear of death,” he later stated, adding that he also realized “I was no longer addicted to narcotics.”
Lotsof dedicated the rest of his life advocating for policy changes and research aimed at making ibogaine therapy available worldwide in the treatment of addiction.
Ibogaine Therapy and the FDA
In 1970 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified ibogaine together with other psychoactive substances like LSD and psilocybin and classified it as a Schedule I drug.
However, as PRI reported, “there is a growing body of evidence” that suggests that the Food and Drug Administration got it wrong. “Essentially, it’s because of the backlash against the psychedelic ’60s,” stated Dr. Thomas Kinglsey Brown, a chemist at the University of California, San Diego.
To make ibogaine available as prescribable medication in the United States requires a rigorous vetting process strictly regulated by the FDA.
Dr. Deborah Mash, a professor of neurology and molecular and cellular pharmacology at the University of Miami, initiated that approval process in the early 1990s, as recently reported by Psychedelics Today. Anecdotal evidence that ibogaine therapy significantly reduced drug craving and withdrawal was supported by her pre-clinical and Phase 1 trials.
However, FDA approval requires a total of four additional trials, and Dr. Mash ended the remaining trials prematurely due to funding issues, pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, and an intellectual property lawsuit.
Nowadays, ibogaine therapy is available in Mexico, New Zealand, and elsewhere in the treatment of substance use disorders.
Ibogaine Therapy Studies
Current Drug Abuse Reviews reported that in recent decades ibogaine therapy has been “the subject of biological and clinical research” regarding its “purported efficacy for the treatment of addiction to opiates and other substances.”
Dr. Brown, Ph.D., M.D., tracked the outcomes for individuals treated for addiction using ibogaine therapy in an eight-year study funded by the Multidisciplinary Association on Psychedelic Studies.
“About 90 percent of the people in the study had a dramatic reduction in their withdrawal symptoms at the point when you’d expect they’d be at their worst,” Dr. Brown stated.
Science Direct published an excerpt from a recent scientific case study discussing the “theoretical rationale” for the administration of ibogaine in the treatment of addictive disorders. A part of that research included detailed findings from several ibogaine studies conducted in recent decades.
For example, New Zealand conducted a 12-month follow-up observational study of 14 individuals who received a single ibogaine therapy treatment. That study, published by The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse in 2018, found that 12 of the 14 participants (50-percent women) reported that they either stopped using opioids or reduced their use. The remaining two participants relapsed.
The report concluded that: “A single ibogaine treatment reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms and achieved opioid cessation or sustained reduced use in dependent individuals as measured over 12 months.”
Additionally, the study found that “Ibogaine’s legal availability in New Zealand may offer improved outcomes where legislation supports treatment providers to work closely with other health professionals.”
Your health and well-being are our top priorities at Casa Santa Isabel. Our facility and medical staff meet all public health and safety requirements, and we are a fully licensed clinic. This licensing allows us to provide Ibogaine therapy on site safely.
The majority of clinics do not have medical licenses and illegally administer ibogaine on their premises. Other unlicensed centers transport their customers to a private hospital for treatment, usually requiring a two day stay in a small hospital before being returned to their facility. Patients at Casa Santa Isabel remain in the comfort of our fantastic luxury retreat throughout the entire recovery process.
We understand that your journey to recovery can be unsettlinging, and sometimes it feels like the pain of addiction is more bearable than seeking treatment. We want to to know that we are on your side and we will try our best to get you through the woods and back on track.
- Thomas Kingsley Brown & Kenneth Alper (2018) “Treatment of opioid use disorder with ibogaine: detoxification and drug use outcomes,” The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 44:1, 24-36, DOI: 10.1080/00952990.2017.1320802.
- Davis AK, Barsuglia JP, Windham-Herman AM, Lynch M, Polanco M. (2017), “Subjective effectiveness of ibogaine treatment for problematic opioid consumption: Short- and long-term outcomes and current psychological functioning.” Journal of Psychedelic Studies 2017;1(2):65–73. DOI:10.1556/2054.01.2017.009.
- Eduardo Ekman Schenberg, Maria Angélica de Castro Comis, Bruno Rasmussen Chaves, Dartiu Xavier da Silveira (2014), “Treating drug dependence with the aid of ibogaine: a retrospective study,” Journal of Psychopharmacology / British Association for Psychopharmacology, 2014 Nov; 28 (11):993-1000, DOI: 10.1177/0269881114552713.