What is Ibogaine?

Ancient Roots, Cutting-Edge Ibogaine Addiction Treatment
Clear Sky Recovery, Ibogaine Molecule

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive indole alkaloid derived from the roots of the African rain forest shrub Tabernanthe iboga. Ibogaine is part of the Apocynaceae family and traditionally used by the Bwiti, indigenous peoples of Western Africa; in low doses to combat fatigue, hunger and thirst. Use of higher doses of ibogaine is part of spiritual initiation ceremonies.

Ibogaine has been gaining more attention worldwide as the opioid epidemic sweeping through American destroys countless lives while pharmaceutical companies offer few effective solutions other than highly profitable maintenance medications, which do little to address the underlying disorder and simply replace one highly addictive substance, with another equally – or more – addictive drug. Meanwhile, addiction experts and researchers continue publishing monographs in peer-reviewed medical journals demonstrating ibogaine’s putative efficacy in interrupting drug dependence disorders.

If you’re here reading these words, you’ve probably heard something about ibogaine, but you may be uncertain what ibogaine actually is, or what the differences are between iboga and ibogaine. Whether you are seeking out addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, or possibly you’re just curious about how these substances work for individuals fighting to free themselves of their addictions, this section will hopefully answer your questions.

Iboga vs. Ibogaine

Iboga doesn’t actually refer to a single plant; it can be a reference to multiple indigenous plants including Voacanga africana, Tabernanthe manii, and Tabernanthe iboga. All three of these have been used for hundreds of years in traditional initiation and coming of age ceremonies utilized by different African cultures. In this context, a large dose of root bark might be consumed as part of a vision quest to mark a rite of passage. Sometimes smaller amounts are consumed for hunting and healing ceremonies.

Traditional practices which often involve ingesting very large amounts of iboga root bark in order to achieve a psychoactive effect, tend to come with a plethora of side-effects such as vomiting, nausea, and gastric distress associated with consuming very large quantities of fibrous plant matter. While the “purging” experience can be likened to what is experienced with Ayahuasca, the reality is that all these variables are less than ideal when used in a clinical setting, on drug-dependent individuals who may not be in the best of health to begin with, and are ingesting ibogaine with the intention of breaking an intractable pattern of drug dependence and abuse.

Ibogaine is only one of multiple active alkaloids that can be found in the various plants used in these ceremonies — there are in fact at least eleven other active compounds found in various species of iboga. Some, such as tabernanthine, have similar active properties, but many other compounds present have questionable properties for which there is an absolute lack of scientific research; the mode of action of these alkaloids is not presently understood and may significantly contribute to adverse events while undergoing ibogaine treatment.

Iboga inspired art by Chor Boogie (Used by Permission)

Spiritual initiation ceremonies and practices of traditional cultures can be profoundly interesting and enlightening to experience by healthy, non drug-dependent individuals, but are extremely difficult to integrate within medically-based treatment centers where we have a strong need for safety, consistency, predictability, and a controlled, clinically-monitored experience and outcome.

Nearly all ibogaine research published in peer-reviewed monographs has taken place with ibogaine hydrochloride. When we use the word “ibogaine” unless otherwise expressly stated, we are referring to ibogaine HCl, which is the “active ingredient” found within ibogaine that interrupts drug-dependence disorders. We utilize 99.8% pure ibogaine HCl produced in a cGMP lab, which appears as off-white crystals. Our safety protocols utilize multiple, staggered doses of ibogaine, including an initial “flood” dose at the maximum end of the safe dosing range which is determined by Mg/Kg of bodyweight. The first flood is followed by two additional ibogaine boosters to eliminate any residual withdrawal that heavily-addicted patients may experience.

For your third and final dose of ibogaine, we offer healthy guests who are physically stable, the opportunity to receive another dose of ibogaine HCl, or the chance to ingest Tabernanthe iboga TA (total alkaloid) extract, in a safe and medically-monitored environment. The situation and needs of every guest are unique and we are happy to dialogue with you regarding your wants and desires, balanced by what your medical condition makes possible at a given point in time.

Ibogaine Research and Initial Isolation

Ibogaine hydrochloride (ibogaine HCl) was first extracted from Tabernanthe iboga  in 1901 by Dybowsky and Landrin. Research into the central nervous system and cardiovascular actions of ibogaine began appearing in scientific literature during the early 1900s. After the introduction of Rauwolfia and overall interest in the Apocynaceae family of which Tabernanthe iboga is a member, the pharmacology of ibogaine was extensively studied by French pharmacologists early in the 20th century.

Lambarene

The initial pharmacological, pharmacokinetic, chemical and behavioral studies led to the initial introduction of ibogaine in France during the 1930s, in the form of a pharmaceutical medication, introduced under the tradename Lambarene. Lambarene was marketed in France as a mental and physical stimulant, anti-depressant, and for healthy individuals during times of greater than normal physical or mental exertion.

Lambarene contained approximately 5-8mg. of ibogaine, per tablet. Lambarene was prescribed in cases of depression, asthenia, convalescence, and infectious disease.  Lambarene was finally removed from the market in 1967 when the sale of ibogaine-containing products was prohibited.

Ibogaine’s Anti-Addictive Properties

The history of utilizing ibogaine to break the cycle of drug-dependence is relatively short. While it is likely that the U.S. government who dosed inmates with ibogaine at the Lexington, KY, federal “narcotics farm” under the auspices of Harris Isbell, M.D — as well as CIBA pharmaceuticals, who were investigating ibogaine as an anti-hypertensive agent — were both aware of ibogaine’s anti-addictive properties; neither entity chose to share this information with the rest of the world. It is unknown what exactly was contained within Dr. Harris Isbell’s data, because all records have been declared lost. The fact that the research took place, has been recorded; the actual data, purportedly no longer exists. CIBA abandoned further research, because they were unconvinced of ibogaine’s commercial viability.

Timeline of Ibogaine Development

Modern use of ibogaine for the purpose of interrupting drug-dependence, all stems from the anecdotal observations and discoveries made by Howard S. Lotsof. Mr. Lotsof was an opioid-dependent individual who was experimenting with psychedelic drugs. After doing ibogaine in 1962 he made the pivotal discovery that a single dose of ibogaine had apparently ended his physical dependence on heroin.

Based on anecdotal reports from groups of self-treating drug-dependent individuals in America and Europe, which indicated that a single dose of ibogaine completely obviated opiate withdrawal and produced significant reduction in cravings for opiates, opioids, cocaine, alcohol and other addictive drugs; in 1985 the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) granted Howard Lotsof a patent for using ibogaine as an ultra-rapid opioid detox.

The USPTO green-lighted Howard’s original patent for ibogaine vs. opiates and semi-synthetics that are derived from natural product chemistry, such as heroin, hydromorphone, and oxycodone; as well as fully synthetic opioids such methadone, meperidine, and fentanyl. After the initial ibogaine patent demonstrating efficacy for ultra-rapid opiate and opioid withdrawal was approved, Mr. Lotsof was granted an additional series of patents between 1986-1992 for utilizing the ibogaine molecule as an ultra-rapid method for interrupting or attenuating a large spectrum of poly-drug dependency syndromes.

Initial Series of Ibogaine Patents:

  • 1985 – Rapid method for interrupting the narcotic addiction syndrome (USPTO #: 4,499,096)
  • 1986 – Ibogaine vs. stimulants (cocaine and amphetamine. USPTO #: 4,587,243)
  • 1989 – Ibogaine vs. alcohol (USPTO #: 4,857,523)
  • 1991 – Ibogaine vs. nicotine (USPTO #: 5,026,697)
  • 1992 – Ibogaine as a Rapid method for interrupting or attenuating poly-drug dependency syndromes (USPTO #: 5,152,994).

Research Within the United States:

  • 1991 – the Medications Development Division of NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse), is impressed enough with the existing scientific evidence showing ibogaine’s putative ability to attenuate withdrawal symptoms, in animal testing, to start investigating ibogaine addiction treatment in human subjects.
  • 1992 – July 15th, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) convenes a Drug Abuse Advisory Committee to review their policy on doing research with Schedule I drugs. The advisory committee recommends that Schedule I drugs should be evaluated using the same standards the FDA uses for all other molecules.
  • 1993 – The FDA grants Dr. Deborah C. Mash and scientists at the University of Miami School of Medicine, permission to conduct a limited Phase 1 Pharmacokinetic and Safety Trial using ibogaine in human subjects (IND 39,680).
  • 1995 – A review committee at NIDA decides to suspend further funding for ibogaine research. After several years of sustained interest, NIDA decides to cease all funding of the Ibogaine Research Project and marks grant submissions with “Not for Further Consideration.” The end. Due to a total lack of any financial support for clinical research, dose-escalation studies within the United States never progressed beyond this date.

Healing Visions

Ibogaine Research Project & Healing Visions Institute for Addiction Recovery, St. Kitts, West Indies

When NIDA suspended funding for the FDA-approved clinical trials of ibogaine in 1995, Dr. Deborah Mash — the only scientist ever granted FDA approval to administer ibogaine to human, drug-dependent subjects within the United States — proceeded with her research via a revolutionary, patient-funded, experimental facility located in St. Kitts, the West Indies.

The Ibogaine Research Project collected data on over 300 treatment episodes between 1996-2003 and published a groundbreaking series of monographs appearing in peer-reviewed journals, regarding the efficacy of ibogaine in interrupting drug-dependence syndrome. We can unequivocally state that ibogaine has anti-addictive properties. Research further suggests that ibogaine may return the individual’s physical and psychological state to a pre-addictive modality. Anecdotal reports have continued to demonstrate immediate reduction in drug cravings, extreme attenuation of withdrawal symptoms and greater self-control. While studies are still preliminary, the results to date offer tremendous hope.

Dr. Alberto Solà, Howard S. Lotsof and Patrick K. Kroupa. Painting by Alex Grey.

The Ibogaine Experience

What to Expect From Your Ibogaine Trip

The ibogaine trip is like nothing you have ever undertaken. This is true even if you are very knowledgeable about hallucinogens, and very experienced with tripping. Although the exact experience is different for each patient, this is one aspect of the process that everyone agrees on—it is different than anything that any other entheogenic molecule or hallucinogen can prepare you for.

The ibogaine experience effectively interrupts your addictive cravings for substances and the impulses that push you toward behaviors that serve your addiction, it steers your mind in different directions. It induces a state of deep focus on the emotional, physical, psychological, spiritual, and social patterns that characterize your life.

As you turn inward and think about why you do, say, and think certain things, you are likely to “visit” places and memories through ibogaine visions that show you why your patterns in each of these areas happen as they do. In other words, ibogaine visions can take you on a journey of introspection that allows you to identify the root causes of your own addictive behaviors.

Your ibogaine trip can be even more unique because some patients report being able to watch themselves, as if they are someone outside their own body. This aspect of the ibogaine experience is protective; you can witness yourself and events in your life while being sheilded against any painful reliving of those events. Nothing else offers as powerful a release as an ibogaine journey, because you get all of the impact of a traumatic event, yet none of the pain, fear, grief, or loss.

You can expect to walk away from your ibogaine trip and recovery with a newly discovered perspective on how the events in your life have unfolded, coupled with the ability to learn from them and the will to move on. You’ll feel inspired to express yourself in new, healthier ways.

The Ibogaine Trip

The full ibogaine treatment cycle can last for up to 48 hours including all phases after the full flood dose of ibogaine. The most dramatic part of the ibogaine trip takes place during the first 4 to 8 hours. For this first phase, patients are usually awake and immersed within an oneirogenic (dreamlike) state.

Within 30 to 45 minutes of your ibogaine dose, you will feel your withdrawal symptoms decrease in intensity, recede, and dissipate. They will be completely absent as you are undergoing your ibogaine trip, you will not be dopesick or going through withdrawal while “tripping.” Your body has undergone an immediate reset, and will be free of the pain of withdrawal from here on out during the treatment. You may experience ataxia, the feeling that you can’t move, or that you are not totally in control of your body’s movements. You are also likely to feel an “out of body” sensation. Nausea is possible at the very beginning of this phase of treatment, and some patients also hear a mild buzzing sound.

You may experience visions that have a dreamlike quality. They may show you things that happened in your past, or they could be revised versions of past experiences—maybe even the way you feared something would go, or the way you wish it had gone. You may see visions that are totally abstract or disjointed; or, you may see detailed, complete scenes. Many patients who experience visions see things that show them what is at the root of their addiction. In all, this phase of the ibogaine trip is entirely unique and can vary tremendously from person to person.

After this initial phase, you will move into a phase of deep introspection like you’ve never experienced. The processing phase usually lasts for approximately 8 to 20 hours, depending on how you metabolize ibogaine. You are likely to feel tired from the physical and mental demands of your ibogaine experience, and you’ll want to rest. Your appetite is unlikely to be very strong on this first day. However, your mind will remain active as you pore over your life choices and history. You are very likely to emerge from this phase with a singular sense of clarity, and an actionable plan for making positive changes in your life.

Emerging on the Other Side, Post Ibogaine Trip

After the first two phases, your appetite will return. You are likely to experience a deep, pervasive feeling of well-being and serenity. Many patients express the relief of feeling forgiven—not just by others in their lives, but by themselves. Deep and abiding senses of gratitude and optimism are other common feelings for post-ibogaine patients.

This is the right time to be making plans that will allow you to remain clean and sober, and to ensure that you will be supported upon your return home. Aftercare is a critical tool in the fight against addiction. Although all patients experience a reset at the cellular level after their ibogaine trip, the body may still have some physical recovering to do if its been under siege by drugs for years of time. Many individuals who have been drug dependent for years — or decades — of time, haven’t taken very good care of themselves and need to address their physical well-being and co-occuring disorders which they’ve been self-medicating.

Based upon existing research to date, most patients  agree that their ibogaine trip provided a turning point in their lives. Although this kind of life-changing event is difficult to quantify. Individuals who were successful in maintaning abstinence post-ibogaine treatment also emphasize the very real importance that needs to be placed on the choices patients make after their ibogaine experience. The ibogaine trip is a journey unlike any other—if you are ready to change your life and willing to commit to whatever lifestyle changes are needed to maintan abstience; your drug dependence will be reset by ibogaine treatment, the slate is wiped clean and you are once again in a position to make choices, instead of following overwhelming compulsions.

Freedom, Healing & Empowerment

What is the Success Rate of Ibogaine Treatment?

How Effective is Ibogaine vs. Conventional and Mainstream Detox Methodologies

Ibogaine Success Rate

The ibogaine success rate for patients—especially at premiere facilities such as Clear Sky—really says it all in terms of what makes ibogaine so appealing for drug dependent individuals and the people who love and care about them. Ibogaine treatment statistics and success rates differ dramatically from more mainstream, traditional treatment programs and drug detoxification services.

The outcome data on traditional rehabilitation centers for drugs and alcohol isn’t impressive; it’s abysmal. In fact, according to experts, it is not much better than spontaneous recovery rates would be in the general populace. In some cases, the success rate for rehab is even lower than spontaneous recovery rates! Furthermore, unlike most medically-based treatment centers, rehabs are generally unregulated, often run by lay-people, and there is often a significant disconnect between claims their marketing department makes and services that are actually offered..

In recent years, peer-reviewed studies show that the success rate of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step model for recovery is only between 5 and 10 percent. In other words, only around one in fifteen participants in 12-step programs can remain abstient from drug use. In 2006, the Cochrane Collaboration — among the world’s most prestigious organizations for scientific research — reviewed every study conducted on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step paradigm from 1966 to 2005 and revealed that they are simply not effective: “No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA.”

The same research group found this was also true for programs based on professional AA-oriented or 12-step treatment. This is important, because that includes almost all rehabilitation programs in the US; taking patients to 12-step meetings off premises, or integrating 12-step meetings into their non evidence-based treatment models is the norm for most drug treatment facilities within the Unites States. In general, any organization in the world providing medical services which has a failure rate between 90-95% would go out of business almost immediately, because obviously the services they are providing are innefective for the vast majority of their clients; in the addiction treatment industry, as of 2017, this is the norm. In short, it’s no wonder that people struggling with addiction are looking for something more effective.

What can be even more frustrating to patients searching for a solution to their drug-dependence problems, is the fact that among the most successful programs are those that replace one addiction with another. Methadone maintenance programs and the increasing popularity of buprenorphine maintenance via Subutex and Suboxone, for example, are considered successful in that they reduce heroin use and many illegal behaviors associated with criminalizing a medical condition wherein drug dependent individuals are often committing multiple felonies each day, just to obtain their drugs and prevent withdrawal. However, from a medical perspective, nothing has really changed except one highly addictive drug has been replaced with another equally – or more addictive – molecule which happens to be legal; this is not the kind of recovery most of our patients are looking for. They are seeking out an actual drug-free lifestyle, and a return to the days when they weren’t living their lives behind a gauzy web of drugs and enslaved to perpetually high doses of narcotic analgesics.

Ibogaine Treatment Statistics

One major difference between ibogaine success rate for treatment and other methodologies  is that most traditional rehabilitation programs are not predicated upon a sucessful detoxification. Ibogaine certainly induces a perspective shift, and provides a psychological and emotional component to the recovery process, but it also provides an extremely effective detoxification from poly-substance abuse disorders, which is entirely absent from other types of drug rehabilitation. It’s not reality-based to expect a patient is going to stay sober, if they haven’t been detoxed in the first place.

Another significant difference with ibogaine is that it’s not a substitution therapy. There is no replacement of one drug with another. Ibogaine in a single treatment session can produce lasting results, without the need for a maintenance or replacement drug. Ibogaine provides a physical reset in the brain and body, which needs to be followed by accompanying support for the patient when they transition back into their lives.

In 2003 — over 14 years ago, when we were actively developing and refining the world’s first medically-based ibogaine treatment and research protocols — one of Clear Sky Recovery’s founders, Dr. Deborah Mash reported the ibogaine treatment statistics for one group of Healing Visions patients as follows: In the outcome study that was published, there were 24 sessions, 18 of which were undertaken specifically to break free of a drug addiction. Two years later, six of the 18 patients who took ibogaine to stop using drugs remained abstinent and had been drug-free since the time they were treated. What all these patients had in common were solid aftercare programs, and participation in individualized and group therapy, after receiving ibogaine treatment.

Numerous other studies have shown that ibogaine is effective in reducing craving and withdrawal, and highlighted the importance of follow up treatment. At least one has claimed that in an ibogaine trial with 30 patients, none of the patients had relapsed at the two year mark.

Ibogaine Success Rate at Clear Sky

At Clear Sky, we understand the importance of the holistic approach. We urge our patients and their families and friends to be ready for the life-changing ibogaine experience—and part of readiness means being willing to follow up with aftercare and support. Our patients leave the clinic with a plan for avoiding triggers and other problems in place, and this is one of the reasons for our high ibogaine success rate.

Some images and text used on this page are © the MindVox Corporation and used under license.

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