Iboga is a plant medicine held sacred by the indigenous people of Central West Africa and has been taken in ceremonies since ancient times for spiritual initiation and healing.
Like Ayahuasca, San Pedro (Huachuma), Peyote, and Psilocybin mushrooms, it is a sacred visionary plant medicine, yet iboga is an utterly unique spirit. More recently, iboga has been proven to have powerful addiction breaking effects in medical studies and observational research.
When my mother first read my memoir about our experience with iboga (she’s a cool mom, alright), she said, “I feel like I’ve taken iboga just from reading this book.” Not everyone needs to take iboga for healing or awakening, for it is an extremely powerful visionary medicine. Maybe reading the book is enough iboga for you. Maybe there is another kind of medicine for you, for there are many different kinds of mental, physical, and spiritual medicine on this planet to suit billions of radically different human beings.
Is iboga for you? Listen for the quiet call of the soul.
If you are called, approach this ancient medicine with respect and clear intentions. As shaman Moughenda says, “taking iboga without a qualified guide is like driving a car while blindfolded.” Educate yourself thoroughly and choose your provider with great care. Read on for vital information, safety tips, resources, organizations, provider listings, and integration support.
If you love someone who is struggling with addiction, and you are curious about iboga as a treatment option, my heart goes out to you. I offer this: We cannot ever "save" anyone. We can only help to create opportunities for people to save themselves. Ultimately, this medicine works with strong personal intentions to thrive. Share this page, let go, pray, and stand ready to support when the genuine call for assistance comes.
I offer personalized support to help seekers explore information, resources, and treatment options for iboga and ibogaine, as well as comprehensive pre-ceremony preparation and post-ceremony integration. Learn more about this offering.
Iboga & Ibogaine are both known for spiritual awakening, multifaceted healing, rapid detox, and addiction recovery. For best results, these medicines require sincere preparation, rigorous participation, skilled after care, and integration support. The two medicines share some similar actions, but there are distinct differences in both content and context:
• Iboga is the natural plant, with the full spectrum of original alkaloids present. The psychoactive root bark is taken as fresh shavings, powder, tea, or natural extract. Iboga is generally experienced within the context of shamanic African traditions, primarily the Bwiti. Traditionalists advocate for iboga to be administered only by qualified providers who’ve studied in depth with an African lineage, for the African people have been working with iboga for thousands of years and hold a vast and sophisticated body of knowledge about this medicine. It is vital to honor the indigenous wisdom keepers by receiving their teachings and blessings. In the same breath, some traditional providers may be unfamiliar with the medical conditions, addictions, or contraindicated pharmaceutical drugs that are unique to foreigners. Furthermore, “psychedelic tourism” can breed inexperienced, opportunistic providers anywhere. Discernment is advised.
• Ibogaine is a pharmaceutical extract of one alkaloid from iboga, isolated from a spectrum of many naturally occurring alkaloids in the iboga plant. Some ibogaine may be produced semisynthetically from from another plant called Voacanga africana rather than the Bwiti sacrament known as Tabernanthe iboga. Ibogaine is generally experienced in a medical and Western therapeutic setting. Medical experts in this field advocate for ibogaine to be administered only under medical supervision by qualified providers and therapists.
If an addiction is being treated, the iboga provider must be highly experienced and knowledgeable about the many delicate medical and psychological details involved with detox. More, iboga can have a great range of potency and quality, and poor quality medicine may not be effective for addiction treatment. A proficient provider will know the potency and quality of their medicine.
Iboga (and ibogaine) are not a “magic bullet” for addiction treatment. Iboga is a profound healer and plant teacher. Iboga offers a great opportunity to cleanse, learn more about one's self, and reset the system to the pre-addictive state. The rest is up to the seeker; the medicine often provides clear instructions for life changes. It may be necessary to exit toxic environments and learn new coping skills. Furthermore, iboga is not a crutch to break addictions repeatedly, for the medicine will not allow it’s gifts to be plundered, and regarding the medicine with an exploitative attitude can be dangerous.
Additional factors help to sustain the freedom from addiction that iboga offers: spiritual disciplines such as yoga and meditation, ongoing counseling, healthy diet, good community, a safe and nourishing environment, therapeutic touch, 12-Step programs, other support groups, and artistic expression.
Anyone who researches iboga or ibogaine on the internet will find some tragic stories of "ibogaine related" deaths, however, it has been found that all or most of these deaths are due to additional factors: contraindicated medical or psychiatric conditions (insufficient medical screening), contraindicated drugs or medications, improper dosing, inexperienced providers, self administration, or adulterated medicine. Even the best providers have encountered problems when guests are dishonest during the screening process or bring in contraindicated substances. Please refer to the results of this study presented by Dr. Kenneth Alper.
As awareness and demand for iboga grows, we must proceed with care with regards to sustainability, the effects of foreign use on the indigenous Bwiti people, and legal export. For more information on iboga sustainability and related political issues, connect with the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance.
Unfortunately, iboga and ibogaine are still illegal in the United States as well as some other countries, even for traditional practitioners and qualified medical practitioners. Sadly, this may be due to many complex political factors, corporate economic interests, and puritanical prejudices. We do not recommend seeking iboga any place where the sacrament is illegal.
So how do we find a “qualified” provider, in this day and age, in the face of widespread prohibition in many countries, unregulated medical treatments in other countries, and traditional shamanic cultures that do not provide diplomas or licenses in the same way? We consult with the global psychedelic community (resources below), ask a million questions, conduct independent research, and listen to our intuition. Keep in mind that not everything on the web is true (surprise!), so practice critical thinking and fact check as your read. Please keep in mind that some iboga providers who appropriate Bwiti or traditional African imagery may not have been trained or given the blessing to hold the medicine by any indigenous tradition. If you are looking for an authentic Bwiti trained & blessed provider, please ask for clarification.
Sadly, prohibition is a great obstacle to medical research and overall advancement; there is still much research and social integration needed as sacred visionary medicines flow into industrialized countries. As this is a pioneering field of treatment, it is all the more important that seekers are as empowered as possible with knowledge about the sacred medicines and good medical protocol. Some professional iboga and ibogaine providers may not have the latest information. It is important to remember that even those regarded by others to be qualified providers are still very human, subject to human issues, to be held accountable for honorable conduct and a good standard of care.
A proficient iboga or ibogaine provider will require specific medical screening and an ECG, as some medical conditions are contraindicated. They will also need qualified medical support to interpret the ECG specifically for potential conflicts with ibogaine. BEWARE of any provider that does not request an ECG and extensive medical screening. Avoid providers that may offer an alluring low price on journeys, but who have no qualified medical support involved. Medical support contributes to treatment costs, and it is essential.
Someone should be present at all times who is certified to perform CPR and work with an automated external defibrillator (AED). In the case of ibogaine treatment, an IV and heart monitoring is often necessary. It is ideal for a hospital to be fairly close by. Though ceremonies and treatments are generally safe with experienced providers and good screening, this is regarded as best practice.
It is imperative to be completely honest with your prospective provider with regards to medical screening, medications, health conditions, substance addictions, history of mental illness, or any other matters. When vital details are withheld, the results can be poor or even tragic.
Under no circumstance should iboga or ibogaine be taken alone or with an inexperienced sitter. Familiarity with other plant medicines or psychedelics does not qualify someone to handle iboga or ibogaine, as these are complex, unique, and medically volatile medicines. Home treatments, self administration, and inexperienced providers are known to substantially increase risk, even for healthy individuals.
Iboga and ibogaine should never be mail ordered, as the quality and purity is likely to be compromised. In laboratory analysis by ibogaine researchers, mail ordered medicine has often been found to be adulterated, old, weak, moldy, or outright poisoned. It may not have been procured in an environmentally sustainable, culturally sensitive, or ethical manner; mail ordered medicine has also been associated with elephant poachers.
Extended or extreme fasting is NOT recommended before experiencing iboga as it can upset the vital balance of electrolytes that are essential for healthy heart function and leave blood sugar too low. Iboga ceremony is akin to climbing a mountain inside of yourself. If anything, seekers are advised to power up with healthy amounts of electrolytes (food-sourced vs. supplements) and nutritious whole foods, ideally for weeks in advance. Only a relatively short time of fasting is recommended prior to a journey, usually just a few hours or overnight; refer to your provider for guidance.
Iboga and ibogaine can be fatal if immediately mixed with other drugs, especially opiates. The medicine must be given a chance to work.
For a detox from methamphetamines, crack, cocaine, or other strong stimulants, a period of abstinence of 2-4 weeks may be required prior to treatment with iboga and ibogaine in order to avoid dangerous heart arrhythmias.
Iboga and Ibogaine are known to alleviate withdrawal symptoms for opiates, but not for benzodiazepines or alcohol. To avoid potentially fatal withdrawal seizures from benzodiazepines or alcohol, a medically supervised weaning process and a period of abstinence may be required.
Methadone and Suboxone are often more difficult to detox than heroin. A medically supervised weaning process and additional iboga treatments may be required. Many people have reported that Kratom has been very helpful as a natural, non-toxic option for weaning off of long-acting opioids. Kratom is beyond the scope of this page; personal research is recommended.
Certain medications, including SSRIs, are contraindicated for working with iboga and ibogaine. A medically supervised weaning process and a period of abstinence may be required.
Once the contraindicated substances are eliminated or weaned to a safe level, iboga can then detox, reset the system, and heal the soul in a profound way. Consult with a qualified provider to determine the best medical protocol for your unique situation.
Unless a provider has been trained and blessed by the Bwiti, it is strongly advised to avoid attempting to guide shamanic journeys with iboga or imitate the Bwiti technologies that are described in my book or elsewhere; there is a risk of serious psychological or spiritual disturbances.
Please check out my interview with Jamie McAlpin, cardiac nurse & ibogaine expert.
All this said, iboga can be wonderful medicine, in the right hands and the right place.
INFORMATION • RESOURCES • ORGANIZATIONS
Memoir: Heart Medicine: A True Love Story - One Couple's Quest for the Sacred Iboga Medicine & the Cure for Addiction
Moughenda is the Bwiti shaman that we worked with, and we had a very positive experience with him. His Costa Rica healing center has since closed; he is currently back in Africa leading initiatory journeys. Please note: these journeys to Africa can be very physically challenging with regards to extreme heat, biting insects, and rustic conditions. For more info on Moughenda's retreats, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The IBOGA providers noted above have all trained in depth with the shaman Moughenda.
*This list of iboga & ibogaine providers is comprised only of those with whom I have had some personal experience.
It is not meant to be a comprehensive global directory.
It is not meant to be a comprehensive global directory.
Photo of Bwiti shaman Moughenda
The Aware Project aims to balance the public conversation about psychedelics, spread accurate information, and give a new face to psychedelia through holding public educational events and fostering community. This organization is especially helpful for pre-ceremony information and post-ceremony integration.
ERIE - Entheogenic Research, Integration, & Education provides a community forum and dialogue in order to explore ways to navigate the entheogenic (psychedelic) integration process. ERIE provides research, integration, and education services for individuals and communities interested in entheogens and psychedelics. ERIE meets monthly hosting educational events and is developing protocol and techniques to assist individuals with their entheogenic integration of transpersonal experiences.
Being True to You Coaching provides preparation and integration aftercare to support you through addiction recovery and/or psycho-spiritual transformation through entheogenic journeys.
The Women's Visionary Congress - a gathering of researchers, healers, activists and artists who examine heightened states of awareness. Open to people of all genders, the Women’s Congress promotes the right to self-knowledge, cognitive liberty, and new modes of healing that link us to female wisdom keepers throughout history. WVC organizes workshops and salons in the U.S. and Canada which explore ethical issues, risk reduction strategies and therapeutic end of life support for those who use psychoactive substances.
My New Leaf is creating a new gamified, web-based, addiction recovery app that draws heavily on evidenced-based best practices and theoretical perspectives. The web-based app is also being designed to deploy on iOS and Android mobile devices with an anticipated alpha launch date in late 2015.
Phoenix Multisport fosters a supportive, physically active community for individuals who are recovering from alcohol and substance abuse and those who choose to live a sober life. Through pursuits such as climbing, hiking, running, strength training, yoga, road/mountain biking, socials and other activities, we seek to help our members develop and maintain the emotional strength they need to stay sober.
*This introduction is for informational purposes, expressing a personal experience and perspective. It is not intended to endorse iboga or any specific program. It is not intended to diagnose conditions, prescribe treatments, or otherwise replace medical advice. Medicinal Media LLC & E. Bast disclaim any liability, loss, injury, or damage incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any information presented here.