If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the drug addiction crisis—or if you or someone in your family has struggled with addiction—it’s quite possible that you’ve heard of ibogaine already. However, it’s at least as likely that you haven’t heard much, and that you were left wondering what exactly ibogaine is, and what the real story behind the substance is.

Ibogaine has been drawing more attention from all around the world in recent years, especially as people have finally begun to take notice of the opioid epidemic. In fact, given our renewed “war on opiates,” it’s likely that we’ll be hearing more about the ways opioids are destroying more and more lives—and what ibogaine might have the power to do about that.

One of the most heartbreaking truths of fighting drug addiction is that pharmaceutical companies, which take a prominent role in the fight, actually offer few workable solutions to addiction—and each of them are essentially legal replacements, highly profitable maintenance medications that ignore the underlying problem of addiction and substitute one highly addictive substance for another.

Ibogaine is a radically different treatment, not a replacement addiction. If you’ve heard anything about it, you may know that there is such a thing as ibogaine detox, but you may not know what ibogaine is, how it could work, or what the differences between iboga and ibogaine are. This post is designed to answer these questions, and give you a glimpse into the issues surrounding ibogaine, addiction, the pharmaceutical industry, and detox.

The history of ibogaine

Ibogaine is a psychoactive indole alkaloid that occurs naturally in the wild. It is found naturally in plants in the Apocynaceae family, including Tabernanthe iboga, Tabernaemontana undulata, and Voacanga Africana. As a natural psychedelic with dissociative properties, ibogaine has traditionally been used by the Bwiti, an indigenous people of Western Africa.

Their typical low dose use of the substance doesn’t produce “drug trips”; instead, it offers them a weapon against hunger, thirst, and fatigue. Occasionally people in parts of Africa do use higher doses of ibogaine for spiritual initiation ceremonies and coming of age ceremonies. For these kinds of ceremonies, larger doses of bark stripped from the roots might be ingested to induce a vision quest, the passage of which would mark a milestone. Regardless, ibogaine is not an addictive substance that is abused in any of these cultures at any dosage.

Ibogaine hydrochloride (ibogaine HCl) is the active ingredient in the plant. It was first extracted from the Tabernanthe iboga species around the turn of the century in 1901. Shortly after that, research into ibogaine’s actions on the cardiovascular and central nervous systems began appearing in scientific literature. After Rauwolfia, another medicinal plant, became a subject of more interest in the medical community, overall interest in the Apocynaceae family, including Tabernanthe iboga, grew. As a result, French pharmacologists made an extensive study of the pharmacology of ibogaine in the early 20th century.

Traditional spiritual use of iboga and ibogaine

Traditional spiritual practices which might include ingesting large amounts of iboga root bark would induce a psychoactive effect. However, the practice also tends to come with side-effects such as nausea, vomiting, and the same kind of gastric distress you might get from consuming any very large quantity of indigestible, fibrous plant matter. This “purging” experience is in some ways like the Ayahuasca experience.

In reality, none of these extreme effects or unpredictable variables are present in a clinical setting. This is certainly for the best because, in the treatment of drug-dependent individuals, it is critical to guard an already fragile state of health. Ingesting ibogaine in a clinical setting to break an intractable pattern of abuse and dependency, then, is in practice far different than these traditional uses.

Furthermore, ibogaine is only one of many active compounds that can be found in the range of plants that are used in ceremonies. Whether ayahuasca or iboga, there are many unknowns at work. In fact, just among iboga species, there are at least eleven other active substances. Some of those active alkaloids, such as tabernathine, have active properties that are very similar to those of ibogaine. However, many others have questionable or unknown and unstudied properties; this dearth of research can mean a danger of adverse events for those seeking out less well-regulated experiences outside a clinical setting.

Ibogaine Treatment

The clinical ibogaine treatment

Almost all research published in peer-reviewed studies on ibogaine focus on ibogaine hydrochloride (ibogaine HCl). Therefore, when we say “ibogaine,” unless there is an express explanation to the contrary, we are referring to ibogaine HCl. Ibogaine HCl is the active ingredient that interrupts addiction. At Clear Sky Recovery, we use 99.8 percent pure ibogaine HCl produced in a cGMP laboratory.

Our treatment and safety protocols call for a staggered series of doses of ibogaine. The first dose is a “flood” dose near the maximum safe dose. We determine what that range is for each patient individually, based on Mg/Kg of body weight. That first flood is followed at safely timed intervals by two additional ibogaine boosters. These boosters eliminate any residual feelings of craving or withdrawal that may trouble heavily-addicted patients. All doses of ibogaine are tailored for each patient and take place in a safe, medically-monitored environment.

The results of the ibogaine detox are stunning. The treatment eliminates feelings of both addiction and withdrawal, even in heavily-addicted patients. The treatment is efficacious, and patients almost universally count the experience among the most transformative of their lives.

Learning more about ibogaine

This post has just scratched the surface of this amazing, naturally-sourced substance that has changed life for so many patients. If you have questions or an interest in learning more about ibogaine, don’t hesitate to contact us at Clear Sky. We are more than happy to talk to you about ibogaine or our work.