What You Need to Know About Iboga Therapy
29th April 2019
29th April 2019
If you’re here, you’ve probably heard about Iboga’s remarkable utility in treating all manner of addictions. You’re curious about how this substance works, and concerned about the risks associated with a psychoactive substance that’s illegal in some countries.
If you’re looking to know more about the fascinating history of Iboga, click here, but if you’d like to learn everything you need to know about Ibogaine’s use in treating addiction, keep reading!
How It Works
Iboga’s powerful addiction treatment properties were discovered by an American named Howard Lotsof. As a 19-year-old addict, Mr. Lotsof experimented with psychedelic substances to treat his addiction and discovered that a single dose of Iboga brought an end to the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal, and dramatically reduced his cravings for drugs. What did it feel like? In the words of one recovered addict:
"As it starts to take effect I feel an intense wave of energy emanating from the center of my chest that permeates my entire body. This euphoric state also brings me instantaneous relief from the discomfort I was feeling after going without heroin for almost 24 hours.
With my withdrawal symptoms completely gone, I am perplexed by the state of clarity I am in while seeing the most profound stream of visual phenomena. I am also filled with a sense of awe at the potential for a life free of heroin. Emotional memories force me to deal with some of the deep subconscious guilt I have repressed for years.
This powerful state persisted for over 12 hours. After remaining at the clinic for a week I was allowed to return home and over the next six months felt almost no cravings whatsoever."
While scientists are not exactly sure how Iboga works, they know it interacts with sigma receptors and 5-HT2A receptors in the brain. Sigma receptors are “opioid receptors” that are activated by drugs like heroin. Researchers theorize that Iboga lightly stimulates them, helping to ease withdrawal symptoms, much like how a nicotine patch helps smokers treat nicotine withdrawal. 5-HT2A receptors are the ones typically activated by psychedelic drugs, and it’s believed that activating them helps to treat depression, while also disrupting thought patterns, allowing the user freedom to break free from negative thoughts and self-destructive patterns of behaviour.
Iboga has been proven to successfully disrupt addiction for a period of 3-6 months for individuals who habitually use opioids, opiates, and stimulants. It resets the brain to a pre-addiction state, and helps cleanse all traces of drugs from your body. However, it is not a magic bullet for treating addiction, and those who hope to lead healthy lives must put in the work to prepare themselves for a life free from addiction. For those addicted to Benzos and alcohol, Iboga therapy can provide substantial benefits, but it cannot help with the withdrawal process.
Iboga use: the risks
Iboga use is not without its risks. We certainly don’t want to sugar-coat the fact that there have been some deaths associated with iboga therapy. Between 1990 and 2008 a total of 19 deaths were associated with Iboga use, and the rate of death during treatment episodes was 1 in 427 (for comparison, the rate of death in Methadone treatment was 1 in 364). Deaths during treatment have mainly been associated with bradycardia (slowing of the heart), liver problems, seizures, and lethal interactions with other substances. Another thing to consider is that Iboga therapy generally restores addicts to a “novice state”, meaning that following treatment their tolerance for substances is significantly lower than it had been, thus increasing the risk of overdose.
So yes, Iboga therapy carries significant risks. But should these risks stop people from seeking it out? The first thing to bear in mind is the dangerous nature of addiction. In the United States, 115 people die every day from the misuse of opiates and opioids. And overdoses are on the rise, in fact, they increased a full 54% in American cities during 2017, according to government studies. Not to mention the fact that drug users suffer from diseases like HIV and Hepatitis at far greater rates than the general population. Individuals suffering from a substance use disorder are 4 times more likely to die from unnatural causes than the average person.
The dangers of heroin addiction are so horrifying that the risk of using Methadone, a treatment associated with a higher rate of death than Iboga, is considered acceptable by doctors and governments the world over. And when comparing the risks of Iboga and Methadone, it should be noted that many of the deaths associated with Iboga use have occurred when the drug was self-administered and used without any degree of medical supervision. Methadone treatment, in spite of being prescribed and administered by medical professionals, is still more dangerous than Iboga!
While risks are inherent in any treatment of addiction, many of them can be minimized, or even eliminated by taking proper precautions. With Iboga, the first step is to find out if it is safe for you.
Individuals suffering from heart defects and other heart problems are at the greatest risk. Those with impaired liver or kidney function, some psychological disorders, and epilepsy should probably avoid using Iboga. You can see our inclusion and exclusion criteria here, and while we are firm believers in the efficacy of Iboga therapy, we recognize that it can’t work for everyone.
At Iboga Tree Healing House, we provide you with the safest possible setting for Iboga therapy. Unlike the vast majority of Iboga clinics, we have a medical doctor in-house, rather than on-call or at a nearby hospital. We have a nursing team that is based on a 1:1 nurse per patient ratio. We insist on taking a full medical history prior to treatment, as well as a full set of lab results including a full blood panel, liver function analysis, ECG/EKG and more. We also monitor our patients with an EKG machine during treatment. Furthermore, every member of our medical team is ACLS certified by the American Heart Association.
The safety of our clients is our number one priority, and we feel that by taking every precaution, we can offer Iboga therapy that minimizes the health problems associated with treatment and eliminates the risk of death.