Since the 1960s, many addicts have reported that even a single dose of ibogaine, a hallucinogenic alkaloid extracted from the root of an African shrub, helps them kick their habit by reducing their cravings for drugs. There is hard evidence to back these claims, as well.
Ibogaine was first introduced as a potential treatment for opiate addiction by Howard Lotsof, who took the drug in 1962 looking for a psychedelic experience, and awoke 30 hours later with no cravings and no withdrawal symptoms, despite being a heavy heroin user at the time. Lotsof was able to develop and follow an ibogaine maintenance program, which he then followed for three years while remaining opiate free. In 1986, Lotsof opened a company by the name of NDA International to advocate for the use and research of ibogaine and its active constituents as anti-addictive compounds.
Since ibogaine aides in the cessation of addiction, it started to be used to deal with opiates and other substance addictions. Ibogaine has only been introduced to Western scientific medicine but has documented use by the Bwiti tribe in Central Africa for centuries. At lower doses ibogaine has the ability to increase energy and mental alertness and appears to decrease the desire for food and drink. Higher doses of ibogaine (20+ mg/kg) has a larger psychoactive property, and is used ritualistically in initiation rites for its potent hallucinogenic properties.
Barbara E. Judd, CSW did a study on ibogaine and stated that the most difficult aspects of treatment are getting the patient to enter treatment. She notes that the three major obstacles are the fear of detoxification lack of insight, and the inability of patients to control their urges to use drugs. It was in these three areas where she felt the benefits of ibogaine treatment far outweighed those of traditional methods. Judd further states that psychological fear of pain and withdrawal prevents many addicts from even attempting detox. Addicts feared having to deal with the emotions that lead them to use in the first place. Judd adds that when patients learn the benefits of ibogaine they are more willing to try it.
Like all forms of detox, ibogaine is not without risks and side effects. At therapeutic doses, ibogaine has an active window of 24 to 48 hours; it is often physically and mentally exhausting and produces ataxia for as long as twelve hours. Nausea that may lead to vomiting is not uncommon throughout the experience. These side effects reduce the attractiveness of ibogaine as a recreational drug at therapeutic doses, however; at lower doses ibogaine is known to have stimulant effects. It is still a controversial and experimental drug and there are some cases of fatal cardiac arrhythmias.
There are two types of ibogaine treatment. The first type of treatment is oriented toward addiction, most commonly heroin dependence, and typically involves dosages in the range of 15 to 25 mg/ kg .5-8
The second type of treatment, also known as “initiatory," involves a dosage on the order of 8 to 12 mg/kg, or about half of the dose used for addiction and is used for spiritual insight and facilitating psychotherapy. In addition to reducing craving, ibogaine often promotes a sense of wellbeing that can last from weeks to months.
As the studies into the nature of ibogaine progress, scientists have discovered that ibogaine's anti-additive properties are actually two-fold. First, when the substance is consumed, the body produces a chemical called noribogaine. Noribogaine blocks the brain's receptors that control cravings. Noribogaine also increases dopamine and serotonin levels, which elevate feelings of wellbeing.
So while ibogaine is not a substitute for drugs, and is not addictive, ibogaine is a chemical dependence disruption and a chance for patients to get a head start on recovery. Ibogaine enables the patient to focus on the underlying causes of addiction without going through the intense withdrawal symptoms that accompany most types of detoxification. Even if there are some remaining symptoms after ibogaine detox they are more tolerable than other detox approaches.
Thirteen studies show that ibogaine has the ability to drastically attenuate drug withdrawal in all patients. Ninety percent of treated patients during one case study showed ibogaine continued to interrupt the patient's craving for continued drug use for periods of time ranging from as short as two days to as long as two and a half years from a single treatment.
- Holmes, Bob. African herb yields its anti-addiction secret. New Scientist magazine, issue 2483, 22 January 2005
- De Rienzo, Paul, Dana Beal and Members of the Project. (1997). The Ibogaine Story. Autonomedia Publications, 1997.
- Mash, Deborah C, et al. (2000). Ibogaine: Complex Pharmacokinetics, Concerns for Safety, and Preliminary Efficacy Measures. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 914, 394-401.
- Judd, Barbara S. Ibogaine, psychotherapy, and the treatment of substance-related disorders. Presented at The Eighth International Conference on Drug Related Harm Washington, DC, 19 November1994.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ibogaine. Ibogaine: Side Effects.
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- Mash, Deborah C., Craig A. Kovera, Billy E. Buck, Michael D. Norenberg, Paul Shapshak, W. Lee Hearn, and Juan Sanchez-Ramos. Medication development of ibogaine as a pharmacotherapy for drug dependence. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1998:844, 274.
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- http://detoxnaturally.com The Ibogaine Association, Why choose ibogaine for detox drug?