Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

What Is Iboga?

Iboga is the inner root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga plant, a shrub native to equatorial West Africa (Gabon, Cameroon and Congo). To the Bwiti people, who have been using the Iboga plant for spiritual and physical healing, along with spiritual discovery, for thousands of years, Iboga is considered a sacrament.

Iboga is also known as “the godfather of all plant medicines” and is thought to be one of the most powerful plant medicines on the planet. To learn more, watch our video “Iboga: What is It?” or visit our Iboga page

What Is Bwiti?

Bwiti is a spiritual tradition that studies life itself, however, it is not a religion. Bwiti originated among the Babongo people (also called Pygmies) in the jungles of southern Gabon thousands of years ago.

The Babongo people shared Bwiti with other groups in their area for centuries before it had to be hidden and protected from French colonialists. Some forms of Bwiti have merged with the French Colonialists’ Christianity, but this is absolutely not true for most of the Bwiti who were able to keep it hidden.

There are different forms of Bwiti, with Missoko Bwiti being the type that we draw influence from at Root Healing. Missoko Bwiti has zero outside influence and is true to its original form. To learn more, please visit our Missoko Bwiti page.

What Is A Psycho-Spiritual Retreat?

When we use the term psycho-spiritual, we’re referring to a spiritual healing technique that comes from Missoko Bwiti. Our psycho-spiritual retreats offer a guided journey into your own mind, the spiritual world, and a direct connection to your own soul. The experience is different for every person but feels a bit like a waking dream state, where you maintain full awareness and agency. You can learn more about our Psycho-spiritual retreats on our Iboga Retreat page

What Is A Pre-Initiation?

A pre-initiation is modeled after the famed Bwiti Initiation ceremony in Gabon. Since you must go to Gabon to partake in a full initiation into the Bwiti tradition, Moughenda has trained both Ryan and Steven to do pre-initiations outside of Gabon. They are the only ones empowered to do this.

This powerful ceremony will reconnect you to the Bwiti (study of life itself), nature, the truth, and who you truly are. If you are interested in doing a pre-initiation ceremony, please let us know by contacting us or mentioning it when you book your retreat.

Where Is Root Healing Located?

Root Healing offers Iboga Assisted Detox, Psycho-spiritual Iboga Retreats, and Pre-Initiations primarily in Portugal and Thailand. However, we do offer a few retreats in other locations around the world each year. Some retreats may not be publicly posted, so for the latest updates, be sure to reach out to us for more information. 

To see our current retreat schedule, please visit the Iboga Retreat Schedule page.

What Is Iboga Assisted Detox?

Iboga Assisted Detox is a detox therapy program that involves the ingestion of Iboga and Iboga TA (total alkaloid extract). The main active alkaloid in the Iboga plant, called Ibogaine, has been shown to help attenuate symptoms of addiction, suppress drug-seeking behaviors, and prevent withdrawal syndrome.

Iboga is often effective even in patients with a long-term history of addiction, including addiction to heroin, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, and nicotine. Please visit our Iboga Detox page to learn more about the program. 

Is Iboga Like Ayahuasca?

Similar to Iboga, Ayahuasca is a plant with psychedelic effects that can also promote neuroplasticity in the brain to a lesser degree. Ayahuasca and Iboga are very different. Iboga is a root that grounds people inwards to themselves, while Ayahuasca takes people out to receive guidance. 

We worked with our Bwiti and medical team to create a thorough post about the differences between Iboga and Ayahuasca. To learn more about how the two compare, please read our “Iboga vs. Ayahuasca” article

What Is Neuroplasticity?

Neuroplasticity is the ability of brain cells to grow and reorganize by forming new connections, or more rarely, forming new neurons. 

The main mechanisms are functional and structural neuroplasticity. Functional neuroplasticity is the formation of new connections called synapses between the brain cells. It plays a huge role in memory formation. 

Structural neuroplasticity involves the anatomical reorganization of neurons, as well as the formation of new ones. The process is also known as “remapping.” To learn more, please read our “Neuroplasticity of Iboga and Ibogaine” article or our “Ibogaine Alkaloid Benefits” article. 

How Does Iboga Increase Neuroplasticity?

Iboga contains alkaloids (natural compounds found in certain plants which have pronounced physiological actions on humans), including one called ibogaine. Ibogaine has been shown to activate several neurotrophic factors in the brain. 

The role of these factors is to: protect brain cells from death or damage, while also promoting the growth and differentiation of brain cells. Ibogaine can also help parts of the brain form new connections, which helps with functions like memory and learning.

These actions are referred to as “neuroplasticity,” which allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adapt to someone’s environment.

Growth factors activated by ibogaine include: brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), and glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). 

To learn more about how ibogaine affects the brain, please read our “Neuroplasticity of Iboga and Ibogaine” article or our “Ibogaine Alkaloid Benefits” article. 

Why Do Our Guests Need An EKG?

One of the side-effects of ibogaine is that it blocks potassium ion channels in the heart, which leads to changes in someone’s cardiac rhythm (how fast and steady their heartbeats). IIbogaine is capable of leading to prolonged QT-interval, which can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats.

When taking Iboga, there’s a risk of serious negative effects among people with pre-existing heart conditions. This is why having cardiovascular disease is a strict contraindication against Iboga treatments.

An EKG (electrocardiogram) records the electrical signals in your heart. Undergoing an EKG helps our medical team assess your heart health and determine if you have any contraindications, such as changes in your QT interval before you use Iboga. More can be learned by reading our “Iboga and Ibogaine Safety” article.

What Medications Should I Avoid Before Using Iboga?

Several drugs can alter someone’s cardiac rhythm, or interfere with how well the liver metabolizes Iboga. This is why heart disease and certain medications are strong contraindications against Iboga therapy. 

Combining Iboga therapy with such medications is dangerous and they should be tapered off before the detoxification. 

Examples of medications that should NOT be taken with Iboga include (but are not limited to):

  • Antidepressants, especially SSRIs
  • Antiarrhythmics
  • Antifungals
  • Anti-HIV
  • Antacids
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antibiotics
  • Beta-blockers
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Diuretics
  • Opioids and methadone
  • Quinine and hydroxychloroquine

More can be learned about contraindications and drug interactions in our “Iboga and Ibogaine Safety” article.

Is There A Special Diet For Iboga?

Unlike other plant medicines, there is not a strict diet recommended when taking Iboga. It’s recommended that our guests eat healthy, nutritious meals and avoid grapefruit, pomelo, quinine-containing drinks, and alcohol when using Iboga.

Grapefruit and pomelo are well known for their effects on liver enzymes, which is why they should not be taken together with the majority of prescription medications. Consuming these foods before, during, or shortly after Iboga therapy may interfere with the liver’s metabolism of ibogaine and therefore is strictly contraindicated. 

Quinine-containing drinks, such as tonic and bitter-lemon, as well as alcohol, have similar risks. More can be learned in our “Iboga and Ibogaine Safety” article.

How Does Iboga Help With Drug Detox And Addiction?

The main active alkaloid in Iboga, ibogaine, helps with drug addiction and detoxing by affecting several receptors and neurotrophic factors in the brain. 

For example, ibogaine helps normalize levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to desire, habit formation, and feelings of pleasure and reward. Blocking its transporters intercepts cravings and reduces symptoms of addition. 

Ibogaine also helps maintain normal acetylcholine levels, which reduces drug-seeking behavior. Please visit our Iboga Detox page to learn more about the program. 

What Is Ataxia?

Ataxia is a neurological symptom characterized by disturbances in muscle coordination. It involves difficulties with coordinating movements, walking, and balancing. This may also cause people to be “shaky” when moving. 

Ibogaine causes short-term ataxia as a side-effect that lasts through much of the ceremony and begins to fade the following day. Other side effects include the inability to sleep and loss of appetite. 

How Can Iboga Potentially Help With Parkinson’s Disease?

Iboga stimulates several neurotrophic factors in the brain which play a key role in the survival and repair of brain cells, as well as the formation of new connections between them. One such factor is glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF).

GDNF has been investigated as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease because it can help protect and even repair neurons that are otherwise damaged due to this condition. Unfortunately, scientists do not yet have a reliable method to increase GDNF levels in affected areas of the brain, but Iboga seems to show promise in helping. 

Iboga happens to increase GDNF levels in the brain including the area affected by Parkinson’s. Due to lack of studies, we’ll have to wait for future research to reveal if Iboga therapy is in fact a reliable method to treat Parkinson’s, which can be a debilitating condition. 

To learn more, please read our “Ibogaine in the treatment of Parkinson’s and autoimmune” article. 

How Can Iboga Potentially Help With Autoimmune Disease?

Ibogaine activates receptors in the brain called sigma-1 receptors (Sig1R). They regulate levels of neuroinflammation in the brain, meaning their activation has powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the central nervous system. 

For example, Sig1R agonists have been shown to be protective against autoimmune encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord). Because it can activate Sig1R, Iboga may also benefit other autoimmune neurological conditions — such as multiple sclerosis (MS). 

To learn more, please read our “Ibogaine in the treatment of Parkinson’s and autoimmune” article. 

What is Noribogaine?

Noribogaine is the metabolite of Ibogaine (the main active substance in Iboga), meaning when the body breaks down ibogaine, noribogaine is formed. Noribogaine is actually responsible for the majority of benefits and side effects of Iboga therapy. 

Noribogaine’s half-life is 28 to 49 hours (the half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the amount of a drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by half). This means it can take several days for noribogaine to completely leave your body.

How Does Ibogaine Prevent Withdrawal?

Currently, the mechanism via which Ibogaine prevents withdrawal is not fully understood. 

Scientists believe it’s possible that the effects of increased serotonin levels may be one of the main mechanisms by which ibogaine reduces withdrawal. Serotonin is a “calming” neurotransmitter that helps with mood stabilization, plus it impacts many other cognitive processes including reward, learning, memory, sleep, appetite, and more.

There are also other neurotransmitters that are affected by Ibogaine that are currently under investigation. These include the kappa and mu-opioid receptors. Please visit our Iboga Detox page to learn more about the Assisted Detox program.