Is Ibogaine potentially useful for treating severe drug addiction?

When it comes to treating a drug addiction, there are plenty of specialized clinics in the United States. However, it appears that there might be another method available just outside our sight. Ibogaine treatment is beginning to be considered one of the best alternatives for treating addiction, but, unfortunately, it is not legal in the United States.

While no major life changing progress has been made in the fight against drug and alcohol addiction, experiments continue and researchers are somewhat impressed by Ibogaine treatment. Ibogaine, extracted from the Iboga root bark from Africa, has been empirically tested and seems to receive positive feedback from many addicts and specialists alike. Ibogaine is not exactly new–it was used as a practical supplement by Olympic athletes back in the 1940s–but studies of Ibogaine have all but ceased since the 1960s, when Ibogaine was banned in the United States and made illegal to use.

But researchers continue to fight for Ibogaine and Iboga as a method of treating severe addiction and depression.

What is the difference between Iboga and Ibogaine?

The term ?iboga? doesn?t refer to a single plant but it encompasses several indigenous plants such as:? Voacanga africana, Tabernanthe manii, and Tabernanthe iboga. Ibogaine on the other hand is a highly isolated herbal psychoactive alkaloid derived from the roots of the African rain forest shrub Tabernanthe iboga. Tabernanthe iboga has been used for hundreds of years by different West African cultures in tribal initiation rites and other practical and spiritual ceremonies including hunting and healing ceremonies.

Brief insight into Ibogaine as a cure for drug withdrawal

The history of using Ibogaine to interrupt the cycle of drug addiction is relatively short and it emerged from?the anecdotal observations and research of Howard S. Lotsof. In the 1960s Howard S. Lotsof was an opioid-dependent individual who liked to experiment with various psychedelic drugs. He came upon Ibogaine and, after taking it, came to the remarkable conclusion that that a single dose of ibogaine had somehow ended his heroin addiction.

Other studies also revealed that Ibogaine did not only help cure opiate-addiction but it also has the ability to impact cocaine, alcohol, amphetamine, and even nicotine addiction. Many individuals, as well as clinics, from Europe, Mexico, and other parts of the world, all outside of US, have been using Ibogaine ever since as an alternative to traditional drug rehabilitation treatments.

Former addicts claim that the drug managed to help them interrupt their cravings for addictive substances and also succeeded in removing their withdrawal symptoms after only one dose of Ibogaine. Studies have also shown that most of the subjects were able to remain sober for at least a few months after their Ibogaine experience.

However, given the medical setting of Ibogaine, many proponents of Iboga as a sacred medicine take issue with Ibogaine being given to addicts without the Bwiti spiritual rituals that normally accompany an Iboga ceremony. This traditional ritual is much more taxing, and involves multiple doses of Iboga, which makes treating addiction in the ceremonial way a much more difficult task.

Ibogaine treatment studies

It was discovered that the Ibogaine treatment is not only effective against opiate addiction, but it also works for those addicted to cocaine, meth and other amphetamines, alcohol, and even nicotine. ?This is why many facilities outside the United States, like Experience Ibogaine clinics, have been using Ibogaine as an alternative to traditional drug treatment methods.

According to former addicts, the drug managed to remove all their withdrawal symptoms after just a few hours. Ibogaine sends the patient through a psychedelic trip and, most of the time, it makes the addict deal with any repressed trauma he or she has. After using Ibogaine, many addicts reported being abstinent for the next couple of months at least.

Ibogaine treatment success rates

The Ibogaine Research Project gathered data on over 300 treatment sessions between 1996-2003 and published an innovative series of essays in Peer-Reviewed Medical Journals related to Ibogaine?s properties when it comes to reversing the drug-dependence syndrome. This study, from 2000, suggests that a single dose of Ibogaine diminished the cocaine cravings of 27 subjects for extended periods of time.

More recent research conducted in Brazil showed that the treatment worked, in many cases, much more effectively than when treating addiction with non-psychedelic drugs. In addition to this, a good 61% of the patients were still abstinent after more than half a year had passed.

Studies further propose that Ibogaine may revert an individual?s physical brain and psychology to its pre-addictive state. Other anecdotal reports show groups of self-treating addicts experienced an immediate interruption in drug cravings, outstanding reduction of withdrawal symptoms, and the ability to gain more self-control.

If these results are accurate, Ibogaine treatment could provide a tremendous hope for millions of addicts. Further upcoming studies will concentrate on the emotional impact of the drug. Aspects like: social relationships, employment, academic life, and the emotional intelligence of the subjects will receive attention in particular.

How does it work?

Ibogaine affect two brain receptors: sigma and 5-HT2A receptors. The sigma receptors are the ones that addictive substances activate. Ibogaine activates these receptors at a slow pace, thus being able to remove withdrawal symptoms.

The other receptors – 5-HT2A ? are the ones activated by other hallucinogenic substances as well, and are responsible for inducing the psychoactive trips when exposed to Ibogaine. It is well known that drugs are linked to antidepressant effects which means Ibogaine has also the advantage of improving the general mood and wellbeing of the patient.

The future of Ibogaine

Upcoming studies will also focus more on the emotional effect of the drug on the addict long-term. This will help scientists take a look at how Ibogaine can affect social relationships and employment, as well as the emotional intelligence.

While research on this topic has been neglected for quite some time, scientists and former drug users will continue to invest their resources, time, and money in an effort to demonstrate Ibogaine treatment as a viable alternative method for treating addiction. Ibogaine has shown promise, but it will take more than just promises to deal with the opioid epidemic we are now facing.

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