Ibogaine: From Spiritual Ceremonies to Medical Treatments for Addiction

Ibogaine is a promising new drug with a long and storied history that is continuing to unfold today. As states like Colorado and San Francisco push to legalize plant-based psychedelics like ibogaine, many more people may soon gain access to ibogaine for opiate addiction, depression, PTSD, and other mental conditions. People interested in this new trend may be curious about the drug’s history and how its development led to this point. Interestingly enough, ibogaine’s origins lie halfway across the world in Africa.

Ibogaine is derived from iboga, a species of shrub native to Central and West Africa that is commonly found in countries such as Gabon, Congo, and Cameroon. For hundreds of years, this shrub’s bark has been consumed by people following the Bwiti spiritual tradition, which originates in Gabon. Iboga is valued for its psychedelic properties, which Bwiti adherents use to induce visions.

Eventually, the drug ibogaine was derived from iboga. It was sold in France as a medicine under the name Lambarene until the 1960s when it was made illegal. In 1962, an American named Howard Lotsof experimented with ibogaine, noting its ability to counteract the effects of addiction. Researchers such as Dr. Deborah Marsh built on this foundation, collaborating with Dr. Jeffrey Kamlet to observe the effects of ibogaine with the support of a grant from NIDA.

Ibogaine is still illegal in the United States, but today, Kamlet serves as the chief medical officer of Beond Ibogaine, an ibogaine clinic in Mexico that provides state-of-the-art ibogaine treatments with full medical supervision. Interested parties can contact Beond’s ibogaine treatment center in Mexico for more details on undergoing treatment for addiction, depression, and other mental illnesses.