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 and its active alkaloid ibogaine have 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 it is an extremely powerful visionary medicine. This journey is not to be taken lightly. Maybe reading the book is enough iboga for you. Maybe there is another kind of medicine for you, as contraindications must be considered, and 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. One needs to be ready—in mind, body, and soul. Educate yourself thoroughly and choose a provider with great care, for as shaman Mopunga says, “taking iboga without a qualified guide is like driving a car while blindfolded.” Read on for vital information, safety tips, contraindications, medical research, organizations, provider listings, integration support, and other resources.
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 one-on-one intensive personalized coaching for comprehensive pre-ceremony preparation & post-ceremony integration. Learn more about this offering.
There are always various risks associated with psychoactive/entheogenic medicines, and they may not be ideal for everyone. This page is for informational and harm reduction purposes only. This page is NOT intended as professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment recommendation, personal suggestion, or endorsement. Please always seek appropriate medical and psychiatric care for your conditions—from qualified providers that respect your personal choices for healthcare.
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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, or tea. For drug detoxes, addiction recovery work, and strong psycho-spiritual journeys, the highly concentrated total alkaloid extract may be most appropriate. 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. The mounting evidence of efficacy is so compelling, that Paul Dame, a Republican member of the Vermont House of Representatives, along with other sponsors, proposed bill H.741 in the state legislature for a pilot program using ibogaine to treat substance use disorders, a highly progressive move in the U.S. that will need public support.
If an addiction is being treated, the iboga or ibogaine provider must be knowledgeable about the many delicate medical and psychological details involved with drug 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. Aftercare and integration of some kind can be vital. Furthermore, iboga is not a crutch to break addictions repeatedly. The Bwiti understand that the medicine will not allow it’s gifts to be plundered, and regarding the medicine with an exploitative attitude can be dangerous.
Additional forms of support can help to sustain the freedom from addiction that iboga offers: spiritual disciplines such as yoga and meditation, ongoing counseling, entheogenic medicine integration or addiction recovery coaches, 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, according to this study presented by Dr. Kenneth Alper, fatalities were related to additional factors: contraindicated medical 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 seekers were dishonest during the screening process or brought in contraindicated substances. For those suffering from substance abuse, it is known that the current mortality rates from ibogaine treatments remain similar to or, in some cases, less than those of methadone treatment.
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.
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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.
If you are considering "microdosing" with the medicine, please know that there have been many adverse medical events and serious accidents reported even with small doses of iboga and ibogaine. People can respond VERY differently to the medicine, and it is not always predictable to dose in relation to bodyweight, especially for the organic root bark. Also consider the safety tips and sustainability issues noted below. The traditional and medical model providers that we know generally advise against microdosing unless you are highly experienced with the medicine while under qualified supervision first.
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 general medical screening, an ECG, and a liver panel test, 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 this medical screening.
At a minimum, someone should be present at all times during treatment who is certified to perform CPR and can 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 can be compromised. In laboratory analysis by ibogaine researchers, mail ordered medicine has often been found to be adulterated, old, weak, moldy, the wrong plant, or outright poisoned. It may not have been procured in an environmentally sustainable, culturally sensitive, or ethical manner. Some mail ordered medicine has also been associated with elephant poachers. A better approach, though one that requires more patience, is to develop relationships with African communities or work with qualified facilitators who have access to quality, ethically produced medicine.
If you are looking for a Bwiti trained & empowered provider, please ask for clarification in regards to the provider's lineage. Keep in mind that some iboga providers who appropriate Bwiti or traditional African imagery may not have been given the blessing to hold the medicine by any indigenous tradition.
Extreme fasting, dehydration, and laxatives are not recommended before experiencing iboga, as these can upset the vital balance of electrolytes that are essential for healthy heart function during treatment. Seekers are advised to come well nourished with nutritious whole foods and hydrated with healthy amounts of electrolytes (food-sourced vs. supplements), ideally for weeks in advance. Only a very brief 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 empowered 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.
Photo by Annicet
INFORMATION • RESEARCH • ORGANIZATIONS
INFORMATION • RESEARCH • ORGANIZATIONS
Memoir: Heart Medicine: A True Love Story - One Couple's Quest for the Sacred Iboga Medicine & the Cure for Addiction
Photo by Annicet
*Please be in touch to request learn about my current listings for iboga providers.
*The provider listings here are not intended be comprehensive; they are limited to those known personally by the author.
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iboga inspired art by Chor Boogie
iboga inspired art by Chor Boogie
Being True to You Coaching provides preparation and integration aftercare to support you through addiction recovery and/or psycho-spiritual transformation through entheogenic journeys. Being True To You coaches are specifically trained and experienced with guiding the work around ibogaine and offering a new approach to addiction recovery and the transformation of suffering.
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.
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.
*There are always various risks associated with psychoactive medicines. This page is for informational and harm reduction purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 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.