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How Ibogaine Works On Addiction

For those of you unfamiliar with ibogaine, we will explain how ibogaine works on addiction. It is the purified and concentrated extract from the root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub native to equatorial West Africa.


Due to its unique effect in resetting the neural pathways damaged by addiction and the way it triggers the brain to reset its dopamine and serotonin production to pre-addiction, baseline levels, ibogaine lends itself particularly well to the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction.


With regards to opioid addiction, in most cases, it provides a withdrawal-free detox to one of the hardest classes of drugs to quit.


The reason why ibogaine is more widely used in alternative drug rehab centres in continental Europe and Latin America is that it is easier for patients to ingest, as to produce the beneficial effects for the treatment of addiction, one would have to consume a very large quantity of root bark. 

There are three main tiers of extraction, each with its own characteristics.


“TA” stands for “Total Alkaloid,” which refers to the chemical extraction process whereby all the tree’s alkaloids are present, allowing for a more wholesome, natural experience without needing to consume large quantities of the root bark to achieve the desired effect.


On a secondary tier of extraction, we have what is known as the “Purified Total Alkaloid,” (P.T.A.), the chemical process from which a concentrate of only three Iboga alkaloids is obtained, these being ibogaine, ibogaline, and ibogamine. Using this process, the concentration of ibogaine sits at 96%, with the remaining four percent spread out between ibogaline and ibogamine.  


For the sake of more controlled medical experiments, “Ibogaine Hydrochloride” (HCL) has been widely used and describes the isolation of the ibogaine molecule without the augmentation afforded by the remaining two alkaloids, ibogaline and ibogamine.  

Ibogaine in Western Society 

 In New York, in 1962, a man called Howard Lotsof, at the time a heroin addict, conducted a self-administered experiment, and in the company of six other addicted friends, proceeded to take ibogaine.


Much to his surprise, all but one of the friends managed to remain clean after the treatment, with none of them having experienced withdrawal. Despite his breakthrough discovery and his attempts to raise awareness and become an advocate for ibogaine, there was little interest from the American pharmaceutical industry.  

The National Insititute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) would go on to develop a 4,000-page Master File, consisting of 16 volumes of pre-clinical studies, and by 1993 were ready to approve a Phase I Clinical trial, which ended up never being properly concluded because of a patent dispute.


Although NIDA pulled the plug on its funding of ibogaine-related research, independent groups and organisations for advocacy not only promoted it but made it available for use in non-clinical settings.


In 2009, New Zealand was the first country to fully decriminalise it and accept it as a viable medication.


Canada would take its turn in 2017, when Health Canada added ibogaine to its Prescription Drug List, which meant it could as of then be obtained only via medical prescription.  

One of the main reasons ibogaine works on addiction so well is partly due to its ability to unlock repressed memories. The person will experience these memories through intense hallucinations, which result in a time of deep self-reflection and insight. This state is referred to as “oneirophrenic,” meaning a dream-like state where the person remains aware of their surroundings.


The hallucinations, which can last from 7 to 12 hours, are not considered to be hallucinogenic because the person is aware they are induced by ibogaine. After the visions fade, the introspective part of the experience usually begins and can last for up to 24 hours.

During this time, the person has the opportunity to integrate the experience into their personal narrative, leading to a new perception of themselves and their surroundings. This process may continue for several months after the treatment.

Ibogaine is renowned for its use in treating varying degrees of addiction to opioids; it is also effective in the treatment of cocaine, crack , oxycontinalcohol, and methamphetamines, as well as mental health issues such as depression, anhedonia and PTSD.   

While it does not alleviate alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal, it did curtail alcohol and benzodiazepine intake in those treated with it.


Its unique properties include a “multi-target” profile, whereby it is considered a non-typical entheogen on account of the way it interacts with different neurotransmitters.


It is this combination of effects in different areas of the brain which is thought to be at the helm of the reduced desire to subsequently consume certain substances and create and nurture new patterns of behaviour. 


While some can be successfully treated with a single dose, because each person’s addiction level is different, it may take others up to two or three separate treatments.  Contact us at Ibogaine Treatment UK, (a subsidiary of Tabula Rasa Retreat™) to discuss your treatment options.