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The Risks of Ibogaine Treatment

Risks of Ibogaine

The Risks of Ibogaine Treatment


Ibogaine Treatment


Much has been written in the past three decades to determine the risks of ibogaine treatment for drug addiction. However, in the midst of the multiplicity of voices clamouring for attention, be they from the scientific community, the media, or ill-informed popular opinion, it is useful to dispel the myths and provide some clarity for those considering this potent entheogen as a viable treatment for addiction or psycho-spiritual development. 

Clare S. Wilkins, a founder of Pangea Biomedics, and has collaborated with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) in the seminal Mexico study, and through her work has facilitated over 700 ibogaine treatments.  

Although she was once an intravenous drug user, she would later transition to methadone. Subsequently freed of her addiction by ibogaine, she has been an active board member of the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance (GITA) since 2010 and is currently collaborating with the International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research and Service (ICEERS) to develop clinical trials for an ibogaine assisted detox to successfully get people off methadone.  

As we have repeatedly mentioned throughout our centre’s website, Ibogaine Treatment UK, (a subsidiary of Tabula Rasa Retreat™), ibogaine can present certain health risks when proper safety measures are bypassed. While the information contained in this article is in no way a thorough and comprehensive assessment on the risks of ibogaine treatment—because each person’s metabolism and medical history is different—you can consider it a primer, or stepping stone from which to conduct your own research before deciding if ibogaine is appropriate for your case.  

When asked if ibogaine is safe, Wilkins maintains that in and of itself, it is not dangerous, while highlighting that there are various risk factors which should be assessed.  

To answer this question, she points to the work of doctors and experts such as Jeffrey Kamlet, Bruno Rasmussen, Ken Alper, Deborah Mash, Roman Paskulin and Jamie McAlpin for more in depth studies, drawing attention to the following areas in terms of potential complications.  

The Risks of Ibogaine Treatment for Cardiac Function

Because ibogaine increases the amount of electricity in the heart, it should be a paramount, non-negotiable protocol of any sound clinic to both demand and perform preliminary cardiac screenings, as we uncompromisingly insist with our strict safety protocol

One of the main effects which ibogaine has on the heart is that it reduces the heart rate (bradycardia) down to about 10 beats per minute during a typical flood dose of 12-20mg/kg. If the heart rate remains too low for too long, this may require the administration of atropine to revive the patient, and is a serious, life-threatening situation.  


Another one of the associated cardiac risks is what is called QT prolongation. A QT interval is the time taken for the ventricle to prepare for its next contraction, during which period the heart becomes vulnerable to arrhythmias or other complications. The reason this is significant is because withdrawal from certain substances also prolongs the QT interval, such as from alcohol, benzodiazepines, and methadone, so when detoxing from any of these, ibogaine can be extremely dangerous.  

Another key factor to screen for is a patient’s drug use, Wilkins point out. This is because that majority of drug users are poly-drug users and may not always be completely honest about what they are taking, raising the need for proper toxicology screenings. In addition to this, Wilkins highlights the need for complete urine and blood panels to be analysed to determine possible infections and electrolyte levels. 

Electrolyte counts are also something that should be screened for, according to Wilkins, since ibogaine is a potassium hERG channel blocker, and that potassium plays a vital role in cardiac function. When this channel is blocked for too long and one does not have a sufficiently high electrolyte count, arrhythmias can occur

Can Ibogaine Be Taken with Other Medications?

On this topic, the answer is more frequently on the negative side, mainly because ibogaine seems to increase the effect of most drugs or stimulants. For example, a simple cup of coffee, with a little as a micro dose of ibogaine can seem like 4 cups to some.  

Individuals taking antipsychotics and antidepressants are automatically excluded. It is advisable to do much research on the issue, independently of what your centre of choice tells you, and a trusted source would be the Ibogaine Safety Guidelines 

Tackling the considerable misinformation surrounding ibogaine and benzodiazepines, Wilkins sets the record straight, saying that ibogaine is not effective in eliminating bezodiazepine withdrawals as it is for opioids or stimulants (for more in-depth information about tapering off benzodiazepines before considering an ibogaine treatment, patients should refer to the Heather Ashton manual.) 

What is specifically recommended by the Ashton manual is a slow tapering off, over time. 

The reason it is so dangerous with ibogaine is that benzodiazepine withdrawal on its own includes QT prolongation, fear, insomnia, seizures, extreme anxiety and even death. Moreover, a flood dose of ibogaine may flush the benzodiazepine out of the system, increasing the risk of the above symptoms.  

However, there have been instances of successful ibogaine detoxes regarding benzos, and Wilkins advises clinics that experience such success to come forth and divulge the findings from each case so that a body of knowledge may be gathered on the issue.  

Not surprisingly, Wilkins calls benzodiazepines “the snipers of ibogaine fatalities,” in the sense that they are connected to most ibogaine fatalities. Where they were not used during treatment, post-mortem toxicology reports revealed that they were still in the patient’s system. The reason for this is, again, misinformation, and the fact that most addicts will hide their benzodiazepine use just to be accepted into ibogaine treatment centres.

Can Ibogaine Be Combined with Other Psychedelics?

According to Wilkins, it really depends on which psychedelics one is talking about, how soon after the ibogaine treatment they are taken, and in what quantity, as it will be safer with some than others.  

Among the more dangerous ones are MDMA, 5-Meo-DMT, ayahuasca or kambo; and while some therapists do seem to combine the above with ibogaine in some form or another, it is best to bear in mind that there are risks, and that a number of fatalities, though small, have been observed.  


Potential Risks in Micro-Dosing Ibogaine

The fact that one may choose to micro-dose ibogaine does not in and of itself guarantee that there will be no associated risks, although they are less significant.  

However, there are some people whose metabolisms just will not tolerate ibogaine. Even small doses can potentiate pre-existing heart conditions, anxiety or produce insomnia. Because ibogaine is cumulative, as it builds up over time, should one micro dose regularly, it can eventually make one feel that one has taken a much larger quantity on a particular day than one actually has.  

While there have been those who have used it daily, with only one day of rest a week, Wilkins highlights the importance of temperance, and the need to allow the body, mind, and spirit to integrate, to rest, sleep and dream.  

If you are considering ibogaine as a viable treatment to help break your cycle of addiction, or simply for psycho-spiritual development, give us a call, or fill out our preliminary, no strings attached application form, providing as much detail as you can, so we can help you decide whether ibogaine is the right choice for you.


Ibogaine Treatment