Last Updated on November 24, 2016 by Dr. Alberto Solà

Ibogaine Research & Psychedelic Therapy

The resurgence of scientific investigation of entheogenic substances is very exciting and shows tremendous promise for helping people heal their addictions and afflictions, but there’s no lack of pre-existing data. During the 50s to early 70s there was a wide of spectrum of research happening with psychedelics. There is data on over 40,000 LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) experiences available in PubMed. Unfortunately no further scientific progress occurred for decades of time after LSD was made illegal and became a Schedule I substance.

A study published in 2012 took a historical analysis of 6 LSD trials conducted during the 60s and 70s, which involved 536 patients being treated for addiction. The study found that LSD helped some individuals overcome their alcoholism and a single dose produced life-changing and lasting effects. This is extraordinarily significant in light of the abysmal outcomes obtained with conventional therapy.

While therapy is an important part of the journey through recovery and provides individuals with the necessary tools to help them better understand themselves and process their issues and experiences, in and of itself, it seems to fall far short of the benefits that can be derived from psychedelic therapy.

Working with psychedelic drugs in the 21st century can be difficult for researchers due to the pre-existing societal bias against their use in modern western culture, and it may seem like a paradox that Schedule I substances lumped into the same legal category by law enforcement as a wide spectrum of heavily addicting “hard drugs” could in fact help people stop being addicted to other molecules that also live in Schedule I.

Bill Wilson, the founder of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) himself used LSD:

It is a generally acknowledged fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God’s grace possible. If, therefore, under LSD we can have a temporary reduction, so that we can better see what we are and where we are going — well, that might be of some help. The goal might become clearer. So I consider LSD to be of some value to some people, and practically no damage to anyone.

Ibogaine Research Efforts

For scientists, clinicians and therapists, working with addiction can be extremely frustrating, because the conventional treatments that are available in present-day society are so underwhelming and produce almost no results whatsoever. Most individuals who seek alternative methods to dealing with their drug dependence, it’s not a matter of liking psychedelics — on the obverse, most people who participate in an ibogaine session find it an extremely arduous experience which nobody would repeat just for fun — it’s more a matter of having tried everything else, and discovering that nothing has worked and there are no further options available beyond maintenance and switching their addiction to a drug that happens to be legal, so they can regain some kind of stability and social re-integration.

The pharmaceutical industry is no different than any other business, their primary goal is not curing diseases or helping people, but rather generating revenue for the shareholders. Big Pharma does not want cures, they want life-long customers. Maintenance drugs such a methadone and buprenorphine (in the Subutex and Suboxone formulations) are an extremely profitable industry which has had a significant impact on the financial bottom-line of pharmaceutical companies, and doctors in the addiction treatment industry.

Without over-stating the situation, if there were two molecules being studied, and one of them showed tremendous efficacy in curing many forms of cancer, had a 95%+ success rate, with few side effects, and only required a single dose (SAM, Single Administration Modality), and the other was far less effective, for a smaller sub-set of cancers, had a 50% success rate and had relatively severe side-effects, but required a daily maintenance dose to continue working; then all research would pertain to bringing the latter drug to market. To repeat: the pharmaceutical industry does not want cures, they want life-long customers. It’s big business.

Despite the tremendous difficulty inherent with conducting research with Schedule I drugs due to overwhelming regulatory hurdles, during the 1990s one of the founders of Clear Sky Recovery, Dr. Deborah Mash, was granted FDA approval for clinical studies treating drug-dependent individuals with ibogaine. Saying it’s difficult to get permission to conduct human research on Schedule 1 substances is a massive understatement. They all fall into the legal category of “having no medicinal use” but without a license allowing the use of a given molecule in clinical trials, it’s impossible to establish and prove a medicinal use. Catch-22.

Despite the tremendous potential demonstrated by ibogaine treatment, these studies eventually ground to a halt due to a lack of funding. NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) refused to fund further ibogaine research and instead focused their efforts on helping bring buprenorphine to market. The legal approval had been granted and the funding never materialized. For the most part much of this can be attributed to ibogaine and its mode of action.

  • Ibogaine is administered in a Single Administration Modality. It’s not a maintenance medication.
  • Ibogaine is a naturally-occurring molecule which cannot be patented. Only specific uses of the molecule can be patented, and all those patents were already granted decades ago, and have since expired. There is no way for a pharmaceutical company to recover its investment — much less make a profit — by bringing ibogaine to market.
  • There is a relatively narrow window between what constitutes an effective and therapeutic dose of ibogaine, and what could potentially be a lethal one. Unless you are being treated by experienced professionals the possibility of experiencing severe adverse events, or even death, while undergoing ibogaine treatment, is possible.
  • Despite ibogaine’s tremendous efficacy in ending drug-dependence syndromes and interrupting active addiction, there is little financial incentive to bringing ibogaine to market, and very limited potential to monetize treatment. Ibogaine treatment is cost-effective, does not require maintenance doses, and works remarkably well at interrupting active addiction and pulling individuals back into a pre-addictive state. There’s no profit in that.

If you’re interested the benefits that ibogaine treatment can bring to your life, please feel free to reach out to one of our intake specialists and find out what ibogaine can do for your specific situation.