Ibogaine Treatment – Addiction Treatment

Introduction – Ibogaine Treatment

Ibogaine is a plant derived natural psychoactive substance found in the plants of the Apocynaceae family known as Iboga (Tabernantheiboga). It is a compound having psychedelic and dissociative properties which is used in some countries for treating the addiction of methadone, heroin, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs. It also causes hallucinations.

Ibogaine is an indole alkaloid chemically, derived by extraction from the iboga plant or synthesized from another plant alkaloid called voacangine. A full organic synthesis of ibogaineis achieved, but it is very expensive and difficult. It has inherent anti-addictive properties. Therefore, it is used in therapy of detoxification in psychiatric practices.

Mechanism of action:

Ibogaine is a tryptamine and acts as an agonist for the 5-HT2A receptors. This action mimics other psychedelic tryptamines (such as DMT and psilocybin) and other serotonergic psychedelics (like LSD and mescaline). But the unique property of ibogaineis that it also acts as a dissociative by antagonism of the NMDA receptors in brain as well as acting as an agonist for the κ-opioid receptors. This is the cause for its anti-addictive properties. It can also reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Psychoactive effects:

The patient experiences two phases after ibogaine treatment.

  1. Hallucinogenic visual phase

Ibogaine has been used as an adjunct to psychotherapy for other diseases, but this is under research.
The visual phase lasts for one to four hours. This phase is characterized by visuals with open-eye or closed-eyeand dreamlike sequences. Objects can be seen as distorted, projecting tracers, or having moving colors or textures. When the eyes are closed, extremely detailed and vivid visions may be seen. There is a movie-like recollection of earlier life experiences and the memories can be perceived as stored in cabinets of brain. Dreamlike sequences with of present or anticipated future can occur. Other effects in the visual phase include laughing, feeling of euphoria or fear, and temporary short-term memory loss. Patient perceives memories and incidences subjectively.

  1.  The introspective phase

The duration of the introspective phase is highly variable, may be between hours to days. This phase brings about elevated mood, a sense of calm and euphoria, and aintellectual and emotional clarity. Patients report to be able to do deep emotional and intellectual introspection into various psychological concerns. This phase is very important as during this period, the opioid addicts notice the absence of withdrawal symptoms or cravings.


Pure crystalline ibogaine hydrochloride is the most standardized formulation of this drug. It is usually produced by the semi-synthesis from voacangine in commercial laboratories.

Ibogaine is also available as a total alkaloid extract of the Tabernantheiboga plant, which also contains all the other iboga alkaloids. This formulation has only about one-fifth the potency as standardized ibogaine hydrochloride.

Side effects and safety:

  1. One important side effect of the drug is ataxia, a difficulty in coordinating muscle motion making it difficult to stand or walk without assistance.
  2. Dry mouth, nausea, and vomiting can occur.
  3. Adverse interactions with other psychiatric medications
  4. It augments the sinus arrhythmia
  5. Ventricular ectopics can be observed
  6. ECG changes like QT-interval prolongation and ventricular tachycardia

Ibogaine is partly metabolized by the cytochrome P450 enzyme system in the liver, therefore, caution must be exercised to avoid using drugs that inhibit CP450 along with it.


  1. Treatment for opioid addiction: this is the primary use of ibogaine. It alleviates the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Intensive counseling, therapy and aftercare during the interruption period of opioids after treatment with ibogaine is equally significant. Some individuals require a second or third treatment session with this drug for addiction treatment. Ibogaine can reduce the tolerance to opioid drugs. It should be noted however, that the potentiation action of ibogaine may make this a very risky procedure.
  2. May be used in treating the dependence on other substances such as alcohol, methamphetamine, and nicotine.

Chronic pain management:

Ibogaine can potentiate the morphine analgesia in patients of chronic pain such as cancer pain.


Ibogaine has been used as an adjunct to psychotherapy for other diseases, but this is under research.

- Link of interest: Addiction Treatment News on Twitter

This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.


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