Ibogaine: Can it Cure Addiction Without the Hallucinogenic Trip?

The substance has helped addicts kick heroin, meth, and everything in between. Is it the trip that does the trick?

Ibogaine: Can it Cure Addiction Without the Hallucinogenic Trip?
Photo Illustration by Levi van Veluw

Ron Price needs his milkshake. It's 10 o'clock on a Monday morning and the bald-headed, barrel-chested former bodybuilder is shuffling around the kitchen of a posh rehab clinic in Tijuana, wearing slippers and a blue Gold's Gym T-shirt. Price had been employed as a stockbroker in New Mexico, until his training regimen left him with debilitating injuries that forced him to undergo 33 surgeries in less than a decade. His doctor prescribed Oxycontin, and Price quickly became dependent on the potent painkiller. More recently, he started snorting cocaine and chugging booze to numb the pain. Now, 53 years old and three weeks into rehab, all he wants is a milkshake and to crawl back into bed.

Clare Wilkins, the vivacious 40-year-old director of Pangea Biomedics, pops the lid of the blender to check the consistency of the concoction Price craves: peanut butter, soy milk, agave syrup, hemp protein powder, and a few scoops of chocolate-flavored Green SuperFood.

Oh, and a half-teaspoon of root bark from the tabernanthe iboga plant.

Extracted from the root bark of the tabernathe iboga plant, ibogaine is a potent hallucinogen—with an intriguing side effect.
Marco Schmidt/Wikimedia Commons
Extracted from the root bark of the tabernathe iboga plant, ibogaine is a potent hallucinogen—with an intriguing side effect.
Photo illustration used with permission from Levi van Veluw from his 'Landscapes' series, courtesy Ronmandos gallery, Amsterdam (©) levivanveluw.com

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Since having graduated from the Artez Art School in Arnhem the Netherlands, Levi van Veluw has enjoyed a remarkable amount of success in a short period of time, with his work being showcased in many different locations across Europe and the States and Asia, earning him a number of prestigious awards that include the Photographer of the Year Award at the IPA International Photo Awards in the USA. His work will be featured at the Armory Show 2011, New York.

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Taken in sufficient quantity, the substance triggers a psychedelic experience that users say is more intense than LSD or psilocybin mushrooms. Practitioners of the Bwiti religion in the West African nation of Gabon use iboga root bark as a sacrament to induce visions in tribal ceremonies, similar to the way natives of South and Central America use ayahuasca and peyote. Wilkins is one of a few dozen therapists worldwide who specialize in the use of iboga (more specifically, a potent extract called ibogaine) to treat drug addiction.

Now she pours the thick, chocolatey liquid into a mason jar but agrees to hand it over to Price only on the condition that he'll stay awake and out of bed and interact with his fellow residents and the staff. Price grudgingly agrees and takes a seat at the dining-room table. Sunlight pours in through a sliding-glass door that opens to a terrace with a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego skyline in the distance.

"Ron, I remember when you called me [three weeks ago], you were crying on the phone. You were so devastated, you couldn't leave the house," Wilkins says gently. "When you use, you end up alone in a bathroom or something. You need a community. As weird and misfits as we are, we need this sense of community. You need to learn to deal with being in your body each day instead of relying on the fucking ibogaine.”

Ibogaine and iboga root bark are illegal in the United States but unregulated in many countries, including Canada and Mexico. Wilkins, though, is hardly alone in her belief that iboga-based substances can be used as a legitimate treatment for drug addiction. Researchers at respected institutions have conducted experiments and ended up with hard evidence that the compound works—as long as you don't mind the mindfuck.

"All drugs have side effects, but ibogaine is unique for the severity of its side effects," says Dorit Ron, a neurology professor at the University of California–San Francisco. "I think ibogaine is a nasty drug. But if you can disassociate the side effects from the good effects, there is a mechanism of action in ibogaine that reduces relapse in humans."

Now, using chemical variations, scientists have devised ways to make ibogaine non-hallucinogenic. The trouble, say Wilkins and others who have used ibogaine, is that the psychedelic journey carries the secret to the drug's success.

It was Hunter S. Thompson who introduced ibogaine to a wide audience, in the pages of Rolling Stone. Thompson was covering the 1972 presidential election, reporting what would eventually become Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. When Democratic contender Edmund Muskie acted strangely during a campaign stop in Florida, Thompson suggested that the candidate was taking ibogaine, "an exotic brand of speed" that "nobody in the press corps had ever heard of."

"It is entirely conceivable—given the known effects of ibogaine—that Muskie's brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations," Thompson wrote. "He looked out at that crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people . . . his mind snapped completely when he felt something large and apparently vicious clawing at his legs."

The notion of Ed Muskie on an ibogaine bender was absurd, and Thompson knew it. Most experienced users say the drug is extremely unpleasant when ingested in large doses, causing severe nausea, vertigo, sleeplessness, and visions that can be nightmarish. The effects last up to 36 hours, and the strain can be so great that some users are bedridden for days after.

"I only took one capsule of extract. It was very weak, but it was still strong enough to make me puke for six hours," says Dana Beal, a New York–based activist and longtime lobbyist for ibogaine legalization. "I had my head in a wastebasket or sink or toilet the entire time. It's aversive. I can tell you from personal experience that I don't ever want to take it again."

While Hunter Thompson brought ibogaine into popular parlance, credit for discovering the drug's medicinal potential is widely attributed to a man named Howard Lotsof. Ten years before the events that gave rise to Fear and Loathing, Lotsof was a junkie living in New York. Having bought some ibogaine for recreational use, Lotsof was astounded to find that when the hallucinogen wore off, he no longer craved heroin. Days passed, and he didn't experience any of the excruciating symptoms associated with kicking a dope habit.

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16 comments
christine.bravo
christine.bravo

Its good to hear about another herbal medicine. I had heard a lot about kratom, which I think has a lot of benefits. This is the first time I heard about Ibogaine. However, any medicine surely has bad effect if not use in a proper way. 

dyanneandrews
dyanneandrews

My Friend ! I have wanted for so long to get back to you...I have been NUTS taking care of 2 aging and unwell parents ! I have been trying to get my doctor to wean me off of the Suboxone...but feel as if he wants to keep me tied to it ! I have no desire to use anymore, but am not sure if it is BECAUSE of the Suboxone OR because it has been SO many years since I have used dope ? I want to do the Ibogaine treatment...but am not financially in a good place, as I am supporting my family AND can't really travel too far ! What do you think ? How's everything going in your world ?

Be Well,

Dyanne.

dyanneandrews
dyanneandrews

Hey there ! I wasn't blowing you off...just been crazy busy taking care of to aging and unwell parents ! I am currently still on the Suboxone and have been talking to my doctor for MONTHS about weaning me off...I hate feeling like I do ! I:feel that I am strong enough now to be away from it and consider it NOW for Me to be a crutch that without it I feel dope sick and grouchy ! I feel very frustrated with the whole situation ! I would LOVE to be able to do the ibogaine treatment...but don't think I can afford it AND don't have the ability to travel too far ! What do you think ? How's everything with you ?

roland.kelly
roland.kelly

 ibogaine HCL, TA root barks and iboga capsule for sale

 We have high quality iboga products (Ibogaine hcl, iboga TA, iboga capsules, and dried iboga root barks) for sale. contact us via (centralphorm@live.com) for more information if interested .

ICEERS
ICEERS

Hello,

We have been working on this field for years, maybe the info can help to push this interesting debate.

 www.iceers.org


Hugs from Barcelona!

gotibogaine
gotibogaine

Big Pharma will spend millions blocking ibogaine access to US patients! 

GotIbogaine.blogspot.com

whitney421
whitney421

i did ibogaine and it saved my life.  not only does it pretty much take away the worst, and esp mental withdrawl of drugs, methadone in my case, it completely eliminates all mental issues. my anxiety, depression, ocd, and co dependency dissapeared. i left my broken home, verbally abusive husband, which i never had the strength to do before. i was on methadone for 7 years.  i can tell the ibogaine slowly wears off after 4 months, but by that time, and luckily in my case, most people are already on the right tract. i have been starting to feel the achiness of the withdrawl again but the worst is over. methadone withdrawl lasts slowly over a yr, getting better each month, but the ibogaine got me through the worst part, the first few months, and iv already made the decision im not going bak to opiates ever again.  yes the methadone gets you off the st and functioning, i did it for 7 yrs, but the entire time i was numb. it numbs you to everything, emotion and pain wise, you just dont realize it until you get off of it. i slept alot, didnt care about stuff.. ibogaine makes you grow up. that is why i believe they give it to the teenage boys in the bwiti tribe. you mature. you become like new again. healthy food tastes good, anything unnatural u put in your system you can feel it adversly affecting you, which wears off a little over the 4 months but its up to u to keep it up. i now see why the rastas live the way they do,, it makes you feel healthy and good.  ibogaine made me analyze my past, figure out why i started using in the first place, and it just knocked the sense into me. i knew what i had to do and just did it. its worth every penny. i also found out from a brilliant dr at the treatment center in mexico from a machine they dont use in america. it literally took ten seconds, placing my hands and feet on metal plates, sticky things on my temples, forgot what they are called, and a massive detailed reading came out showing all things wrong with me healthwise. it was the first time i was told i was allergic to milk, having horrible issues all my life. now ive stopped the milk and my stomachs much better and i can eat healthier and more. this is truly a miracle and its a dire shame they wont legalize it. it would help so many people, not just drug addicts, but then it helps mental issues so much better than chemical antidepressants drugs. guess it would replace all those nasty pharmaceutical drugs and they dont want that happening

dyanneandrews
dyanneandrews

I WISH the drug companies would stop being such as-----s and give way to this drug in the US ! I have been an addict since 12 years old and am now 46. I have been on Suboxone for the last 10 years and getting off of it for surgery last year almost made me go back to junk, or worse I had thoughts of taking my life ! I can't afford a trip out of the country and even if I could, I wouldn't even begin to know where to look !

LITTLEMISSJANE
LITTLEMISSJANE

Funny to find these great reviews about Beau Mason http://www.complaints.com/2012/march/25/Beau_Mason__Fraud_Scam_264975.htm


It seems to me this is a dangerous drug, but this shady Beua guy looks deadly, just saw this short doc on vice, hard to believe this is a safe treatment. If you ask me, "I" love being on methadone, and it saved my life. I get my high and dont have to go looking to steal things anymore to stay well. I function just fine.


JasonTillings
JasonTillings

Experiencing Ibogaine was a life changing moment. For the past 2 years, my life had become a disaster, due to my struggle with heroin and oxycontin addiction. When I did some research online, I found  Transitions Rosarito Beach Ibogaine treatment. I spoke to Beau Mason about treatment options and felt confident that Transitions was the right place for me. After Ibogaine treatment, my life has improved a lot.

Thank you to staff, doctors, and nurses at Transitions Rosarito Beach.

sageleaf84
sageleaf84

what happened to all the comments that were here? lots of valid info got lost......... well one day it all catches up to you anyways.... but seriously village voice just deletes comments or you need to hite lawyers or something?

dv.geac
dv.geac

@roland.kelly hook me up on credit.....at least ther might be one more thing to try im just about spent and ready to give up, fukin bullshit opiets herion methadone suboxan but im pretty optimistic bout it iv been in inpatients outpatients rehabs clinics drs na so sick of the happy story bullshit of people getting cleen those are the ones who were never tru addicts from the start cuz i have done everything i can did everything they said since i realized i wanted to see life through reel eyes and nothing has ever satisfied the beast. just heard about this shit today maybe for a reason cuz i am all out of hope and strength to the point of balancing a quick end or stickin it out in this bullshit....poor me i feel like im pissin and moanin like a bitch my problams are self inflicted there is a lot of people with real problams they didn't choose or maybe some one will here my cryin and quit before they cant or maybe im just a fuked in the head junkie lunatic tryin to feel better through sympathy and guilt because i am the defenition of selfish FTW


dv.geac
dv.geac

@whitney421 I had to cold turkey my methadone do to Obama care shit messed up my ins. im on month three and cant take much more first 2 months I never left the bathroom floor now im not violently sick but can hardly get out of bed gravity has no mercy and 3 months aint shit realy but every moment awake is hell iv been on narcotics 21 years and im 33 It would be nice to no there is one last option if that shit realy works but realistickly I prolly will never be able to afford it but a little shred of hope helps a lot in my case i don't have much and my clock is tickin fast i should have stayed on dope the withdraws never lasted this long,but i have also never been cleen this long not since i was around 12 maybe i will just have to realize i will never be able to function without drugs if i only new then what i no now i would not be on my way to a slow suicide i get to watch unfolding every day anyway im just sayin thanks for the hope

dv.geac
dv.geac

@dyanneandrews no it to well i too have been on shit since 12 graduated to the needle at 16 im 33 now its cool i saw ur post cuz i have been wanting to no if any one else has been this fucked since a young age that is still alive and  im on month 3 cold turkey from methadone longest ever sober and every day is wors than the last besides two straight months of vomit soaked skin (Obama care is to blame) and i cant leave the country eather  so i guess i will just admit to no such thing as sobriety for me and ther is no one to blame but myfukinretarded self, right on

browardboxing
browardboxing

@dyanneandrews  I couldn't afford to leave the country.  But I found a company that saved my life.  Look up Ibogaworld.com.  I would be dead or in jail if I didnt find it.  Around $500 to $600.  If you fly to one of the country it would cost you $5000 to $10,000.  You can e-mail me at browardboxinggmail.com to talk.


 
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