Ibogaine Shows Promise as Addiction Treatment

By  //  June 30, 2023

New research and legal changes are bringing fresh attention to the psychedelic compound ibogaine as a potential treatment for drug addiction.

The state of Kentucky recently received $42 from the “Opioid Settlement Fund” million grant to study how ibogaine combats opioid addiction. And Colorado became the first state to decriminalize ibogaine.

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in the iboga plant native to Central West Africa. Ibogaine has been shown to help interrupt addiction to opioids and other drug and alcohol addictions.

The psychedelic properties of ibogaine have made it illegal in the US and many other countries. In 1970 ibogaine was caught up in the ban of many plant medicine and psychedelics, and this research had been mostly paused until recently.

The new funding from Kentucky aims to better understand ibogaine’s mechanisms. “Ibogaine has shown promising results for a single dose to help reset addiction pathways in the brain,” said lead researcher Dr. Carl Smith. “We want to understand the neurological mechanisms at work so that we can develop other non-psychedelic treatments with the same benefits.”

Colorado’s reclassification of ibogaine means it now has an accepted medical use for addiction treatment. While still illegal recreationally, many hope it will lead to regulated treatment options. “We made history today by being the first to acknowledge ibogaine’s medical benefits,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, who sponsored the bill.

After decades of controversy, ibogaine may finally gain mainstream acceptance as an addiction medicine. “Ibogaine has so much potential to help curb the opioid crisis and save lives,” said Matt Sudowski of Ibogaine Healing Center in Costa Rica. “Research and safe access are key first steps forward.” Matthew says “people from the USA and many countries have to  leave their home countries to access ibogaine treatment.One of the primary benefits of ibogaine is its potential to treat addiction. Studies have shown that ibogaine can help reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol, ease withdrawal symptoms, and improve overall well-being. Some researchers believe that ibogaine works by resetting the brain’s reward system, which can become dysregulated during addiction.

While ibogaine is not a cure for addiction, it can be a powerful tool for individuals seeking recovery. In some cases, a single ibogaine session can provide profound relief from addiction symptoms, allowing individuals to begin the process of recovery with a clear mind and renewed energy. However, it’s important to note that ibogaine treatment can be risky and should only be undertaken under the guidance of trained professionals.

Ibogaine is one of several psychedelic substances that are gaining attention in the field of mental health and addiction treatment. The recent resurgence of interest in psychedelics, known as the psychedelic renaissance, has led to a growing body of research on the therapeutic potential of these substances.

The current status quo for opiate “treatment” for addicts is to get them a maintenance opioid drug like methadone or Suboxone. Matt Sudowski said “many ibogaine facilitators find it harder to detox users off of Suboxone and methadone as compared to many illicit opiates.”

Data is trickling out about the efficacy of ibogaine treatment and much of it seems positive.

For our scientific readers here are some studies that have had positive outcomes for ibogaine treatment for drug abuse.

Here are some in-depth research studies that have been conducted on the efficacy of ibogaine for opioid addiction:

Mash, D. C., Kovera, C. A., Pablo, J., Tyndale, R. F., Ervin, F. D., Kamlet, J. D., & Hearn, W. L. (2000). Ibogaine in the treatment of heroin withdrawal. Alkaloids: Chemistry and Biology, 56, 155-171.

This study examined the safety and efficacy of ibogaine for the treatment of opioid withdrawal. The researchers found that ibogaine significantly reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings in the participants and that the effects lasted for up to 72 hours after treatment.

Noller, G. E., Frampton, C. M., Yazar-Klosinski, B., & Klosinski, G. E. (2018). Ibogaine treatment outcomes for opioid dependence from a twelve-month follow-up observational study. The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 44(1), 37-46.

This study followed up with a group of participants who underwent ibogaine treatment for opioid addiction and found that the majority of participants reported reduced cravings and improved quality of life after treatment. The study also found that the effects of ibogaine were sustained over a 12-month period.

Alper, K. R., Lotsof, H. S., Frenken, G. M., Luciano, D. J., & Bastiaans, J. (1999). Treatment of acute opioid withdrawal with ibogaine. The American Journal on Addictions, 8(3), 234-242.

This study examined the use of ibogaine for the treatment of acute opioid withdrawal. The researchers found that ibogaine significantly reduced withdrawal symptoms and cravings in the participants and that the effects lasted for up to 24 hours after treatment.

Brown, T. K. (2013). Ibogaine in the treatment of substance dependence. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 6(1), 3-16.

While still early, these promising developments suggest ibogaine could eventually transform how we treat addiction—if research continues to show its benefits and it gains wider legal approval. For now, new scientific interest and policy changes in the USA have given fresh hope to proponents of natural psychedelic therapy for addiction.