Ibogaine what is it and is it safe?

Ibogaine (12-Methoxyibogamine) is a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in a number of plants, principally in a member of the Apocynaceae family known as iboga. In recent times, it has been identified as having anti-addictive properties. It is a highly controlled substance in the United States. It is classified by the FDA as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it is not available to the general public. Anyone legally seeking this drug would have to travel to one of the countries where it is available, such as Canada.

Ibogaine is thought to interrupt addiction to methadone, heroin, other opiates, alcohol, methamphetamine, and cocaine. The most studied therapeutic effect of ibogaine is the reduction or elimination of addiction to opioids. An integral effect is the alleviation of symptoms of opioid withdrawal by its action on the kappa and mu opioid receptors in the brain. It has an aspect of an opiate replacement similar to compounds like methadone (this is distinctly different from Suboxone treatment.) It can only be used briefly because of its significant side effect profile. Thus, it is always linked to a “rapid detox program.” It also appears to act as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor like many of the newer anti-depressants on the market today (like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, etc.)

Ibogaine is not the “magic pill” everyone is looking for. The programs that use ibogaine as part of their “rapid detox program” also recommend “intensive counseling, therapy and aftercare treatment” which they classify as having “significant value” in the person’s overall program. They go on to say “some individuals require a second or third treatment session with ibogaine over the course of the next 12-18 months.” They also go on to say, “A minority of individuals relapse completely into opiate addiction within days to weeks.” So ibogaine is a drug treatment that must be used over a short period of time because of its side effect profile, and the individual must have extensive counseling and follow up aftercare for there to be any chance of continued sobriety.

The side effect profile is huge, thus the risk of taking the drug is enormous. The side effects of taking ibogaine are as follows:
#1 Sensation of fear
#2 Temporary short-term memory impairment
#3 Ataxia (difficulty standing or walking)
#4 Xerostomia (dry mouth)
#5 Nausea and vomiting
#6 Cardiac arrhythmias (atrial & ventricular – some potentially fatal)
#7 Brain damage

The drug also shows adverse interaction with some heart conditions and psychiatric medications are strongly contraindicated. There are 12 documented fatalities associated with ibogaine ingestion. Grapefruit juice cannot be taken before, during or immediately after ibogaine treatment because of adverse side effects.

At this time I CANNOT recommend the use of ibogaine as a “rapid detox” drug. The risks are too high including brain damage and even death. There are other alternatives available that are significantly safer and more effective.

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13 Responses

  1. Wow! Thank you for this article Dr Crabb. This provides a wealth of information on different aspects of the drug that I was unaware of. It seems as though there were a lot of people in America that were seeing this as the cure or something. With all of the physical risks involved this (Ibogaine) would especially be dangerous for someone that has been using copious amounts of drugs up and to that point, seeing as though their physical Heath is already compromised. Thank you so much for this article. I am excited to see what is next.

  2. Hi Doc, I suggest that you learn a little more about ibogaine. The statement you made aboud brain damage is not true. This information was based on a work from 1993 that was shown not valid by more recent papers. Try to talk with dr. Debora Mash, University of Miami… she has more than 500 subjects treated with no problems.

  3. I forget to say, the mechanism of action of ibogaine has nothing to do with methadone… it is the GNDF that explains it's action. Your information is out of date. But congratulations for the site, anyway.

  4. Ibogaine is definitely not a cure, but a tool. The risk of brain damage is based on some studies done where rodents experienced some sort of brain damage after being exposed to extremely high doses of Ibogaine HCL. At least 3-4 times the maximum safe dose administered to humans which is typically 10-30 mg/kg of body weight. Many think these studies were deliberately trying to make Ibogaine look dangerous because the pharmaceutical industry has no interest in looking into an addiction interrupter. What these studies fail to mention is that Ibogaine releases a growth factor in the brain that stimulates the growth of neurons which can potentially reverse brain damage caused from excessive drug abuse such as that brought out about through excess stimulant abuse. The rats in the studies were given such extraordinarily high doses that this benefit of Ibogaine couldn't be seen because they died.

    The side effects of the drug are extreme, but they only exist while under the influence of ibogaine and experiencing the trip which usually lasts 24-36 hours. The alternatives are potentially safer in some regard, but most people will not stick with any of the alternatives for long and will eventually go back to using Heroin, Alcohol or other drugs of choice. This typically results in criminal behavior, the deterioration of character, misery and ultimately death.

    Ibogaine is unique in that it is currently the only known substance that has been discovered to put many of the symptoms of addiction into remission for a number of weeks or months after only a single dose. The interruption of the addiction usually lasts 2-6 months for most, with 2-3 months being the most common time frame. At this point people are likely to relapse if they haven't made significant lifestyle changes. Ideally a person will be able to obtain boosters or tune up doses as needed to prolong the interruption of the addiction long enough to make a lasting transition to a drug free life.

    Because of Ibogaine's legal status and the cost of treatment, most addicts can't afford to get the treatment once, let alone multiple times. Treatment must be done outside the U.S. because of Ibogaine's legal status and of course insurance will not cover it. Many drug addicts have criminal records that prevent them leaving the country. Ibogaine is almost impossible to find on the street because no drug dealer in his right mind would sell the stuff. The majority of people will stop using for several weeks or months after treatment, especially opiate users and alcholics. For stimulant users relapse occurs more quickly but I do know a man who stopped using methamphetamine for 8 months after taking Ibogaine once. He was injecting a gram of methamphetamine per day. He was also taking a gram of heroin per day and 80 milligrams of methadone. This man had been addicted for 25 years. He relapsed for 5 days on methamphetamine after 8 months of being clean from everything and then got the treatment again. He's now been clean for several years.

    The primary problem with Ibogaine is it's legal status and limited availability. It is the only medical treatment for addiction that is available with the possible exception of the Prometa protocol for stimulant and alcohol addiction. The other available options such as 12 step programs are simply self help type treatments. A person is given a set of steps to live by and if they follow them they will be successful. Unfortunately, these types of programs must be followed forever and most lose their patience before they can achieve a good result. In order for a person to succeed with a 12 step program they must be disciplined, patient and be able to deal with delayed gratification. These are all personality characteristics that addicts lack so only people who are able to completely change the way they live will succeed. Unfortunately this is a very small percentage of people and these programs will continue to deliver dismal results for the addicted community at large until significant advances in medical treatments for addiction are developed and combined with counseling and in patient treatment centers.

    When an addict undergoes Ibogaine treatment the reality of the addiction changes on a very real level. The difference between Ibogaine and other treatments is that with Ibogaine a person doesn't have to try to not take a drink or get high. The desire to use simply isn't there, at least initially. It is not cure at all, don't get me wrong. However, it's an unbelievably powerful substance that can produce benefits for drug addicts that seem completely impossible but yet are very real and unattainable using other methods.

  5. Nice canned answer Derek. Replacing drug addiction with drugs is not the answer. What is this about a 12 step program?. I was a drug addict for 15 years. I don't believe 12 step programs work either. When an addict undergoes Ibogaine treatment their reality changes (period). I now live with a reality that I no longer have to use drugs or alcohol at all. Their are other methods for finding freedom of addiction and It doesn't involving tripping on Ibogaine. They ought to call it IboLoss. There is no Gaine involved.

  6. Hi Dr Crabb.

    Ibogaine does not cause brain damage and the number of deaths associated with this treatment are 18 out of about 5000 sessions so not particularly high when you compare it to methadone or to continuing to use heroin. Thanks for posting.

  7. Well I can understand your perspective. While Ibogaine is no cure all, it certainly can produce benefits for people unavailable from other methods. I don't think Ibogaine is necessarily for everyone, but neither is abstinence. If an addict came up to me and honestly asked me how he should go about getting clean my answer would be simple: Don't bother. In almost every case a person will go back to using. This is regardless of the treatmentmethod used. Addiction is extremely resistant to treatment and most people are fighting a lost cause by trying to beat addiction. Even with Ibogaine the relapse rate is at least 80 percent after a single treatment beyond 6 months. This is primarily due to Ibogaine's effects being only temporary. With repeat treatments this percentage would drastically improve, but this would only be practical for the average poverty stricken addict if Ibogaine was FDA approved and readily available which will be at least another 20 years if we're lucky.

    Other methods produce no tangible benefits (elimination of withdrawal AND cravings, improved mood, changed thinking patterns) that can be duplicated with anyone within 24-36 hours, but simply offer encouragement and positive thinking pep talks. One possible exception is Prometa.

    I'm not sure what your secret is, but if it will work for everyone I suggest you write a book and share your miracle with the world. If it really works you'll be richer than Bill Gates. If I had to bet, I'd say your advice would help 1 in 10,000. I'd be happy to introduce you to some homeless Heroin addicts from Detroit who have been to prison 5 times. I'd love to see how well you could coach these guys to success. Perhaps after 10 minutes with you they'd be all better. I'll tell you one thing, if I gave these guys 2 grams of Ibogaine, they wouldn't believe it. After 1 hour, no withdrawal. 48 hours later they'd feel better than they had in 20 years, be in a great mood, have no cravings whatsoever and not want to get high. This is a gift from nature my friend, please wake up! But that's just the beginning. They still have A LOT of work to do and I'd be quick to tell them that they better make some changes or relapse was highly likely. Ibogaine gives people a choice, because the addiction is put into remission.

    How do you plan on teaching others how to live in a world where they no longer have to use drugs and alcohol anymore? Do you honestly think you could get 90 percent of addicts to adopt this philosophy after 1 treatment and live happily ever after? Not likely. Most would listen to what you have to say, thank you and go back to using immediately.

    I am very happy for your success Cliff, and I have no hard feelings towards you. Please do not take this the wrong way. It makes me very angry that so few people can beat this problem and that the medical field does not care at all. Hardly anybody ever achieves lasting sobriety like you. It's very rare. Most live in misery for their life. Addiction is a medical condition, but it's not treated like one. When something like Ibogaine can deliver real tangible results for those suffering from a terrible ailment like addition, the medical community has an ethical obligation to make this available to addicts like you and I. It should not be forced, but simply offered as a tool to assist people in recovery. Ibogaine can save lives and help people find their way. It doesn't fix the problem, it merely helps a person help themselves. For whatever reason, this drug speaks to people in a very profound and meaningful that helps them make the change to live life again. To deprive people in need of an experience like this is just wrong.

    Recovery is hard work, with or without Ibogaine. In fact, Ibogaine is harder than any other treatment. You can't go through the motions on Ibogaine. The experience is equivalent to 10-20 years of psychotherapy because it allows people to tap into their subconscious. People need to learn to work hard on themself, and Ibogaine can catalyze that process because it makes you face your fears. There is no more hiding from reality. The Ibogaine experience humbles you, and won't allow you to run from the problem anymore, which is yourself. It is very difficult to get an addict to 'get it' and figure out what their deal is. I would like to see a treatment protocol developed that could produce at least a 50 percent success rate after one treatment. This means for every 100 people that go to treatment for the first time, 50 NEVER go back to using again. Preferably this percentage could raise up to 70-90 percent. This calls for an extremely drastic change in addiction treatment. Ibogaine and Ibogaine type drugs like 18 Methoxy Coronaridine would be a good place to start, but after 50-100 years of research these things could become obsolete. AT the rate things are going now, the percentages are going to continue to be pitiful because most people just can't get it together and are so unhappy.

    I don't think Ibogaine is a cure all for addiction at all. But it does interrupt addiction and this drug holds unbelievable promise for the medical field. I just think about all of the millions of suffering addicts out there who could possibly be helped by this. My dream would be for people to go somewhere inpatient and receive this along with other things like counseling, a good fitness program, dietary changes and job skills training.

    For treatment to be effective for most addicts, things are going to have to change BIG TIME! People need to wake up and start accepting the fact that you are never in a million years going to improve the success rate of addicts in recovery with the current system in place for treating addiction. Ibogaine is only ONE of these things. I'd love to see other things besides Ibogaine or even new philosophies of addiction treatment come about. At this point my focus is dedicated to Ibogaine awareness because I feel very strongly about the suffering that could be eliminated with widespread use of the drug, but I still am open to anything an everything that can help addicts. Good luck to you in your recovery.

  8. Thanx for this post. There is much more information on Ibogaine on IbogaWorld.com there are great people helping you with al you want to now about Ibogaine. Treatment and Advice from Sara Glatt.

  9. I have taken Ibogaine as detox for addiction to Opiates. It is not AT ALL what you would think from the info on the web. This Doctor's information is right on the money. I consider myself lucky to have survived the experience. It was a living hell, and as close to death as I have ever been. There are much better, more compassionate options out there, and the majority of people on the web talking about Ibogaine are either poorly informed, have not taken it, or stand to directly profit from the growth in demand for these treatments. LISTEN TO THIS DOCTOR'S ADVICE.

  10. I was on methadone and then made the transition to suboxone. I used ibogaine HCL and TA weekly for a few months. I started to get memory loss after 2 months, my doc said I could have almost been brain damaged. All it did for me was take the sweating away. You get severe depression once the ibogaine leaves your system. I got severe depression 2 months after I finished my last boosters. I would say save your money, it doesn't work. Am living example and I did the right protocol.

  11. Opium addiction has affected entire populations and international economies, and through the dissemination of other drugs which are derived from it, opium addiction in one form or another has become a worldwide problem.

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