Frequently Asked Questions
What is Iboga?
Iboga is the inner root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub native to equatorial West Africa (Gabon, Cameroon, Congo). It is a sacrament to the Bwiti who have been using it for spiritual healing, physical healing, and spiritual discovery for thousands of years. Iboga is also the godfather of all plant medicines and is the most powerful plant medicine 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. It is not a religion. Bwiti originally comes from the Babongo (Pygmies) in the jungles of equatorial West Africa and has been practiced for thousands of years. Eventually, the Babongo shared it with other groups in the area for centuries before it had to be hidden and protected from the 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. Missoko Bwiti, which we practice, has zero outside influence and is true to its original form. To learn more, please visit our “Missoko Bwiti page.”
What is a Psychospiritual?
A psychospiritual is a spiritual healing technique that comes from Missoko Bwiti. It is a guided journey into your own mind, the spiritual world, and a direct connection to your own soul. You can learn more about our Psychospiritual 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 do the full Initiation into the Bwiti tradition, Moughenda has trained a few people on how to do Pre-Initiations outside of Gabon. 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, you can let us know when you reach out.
Where is Root Healing Located?
Root Healing offers Iboga Assisted Detox, Psychospiritual Iboga Retreats, and Pre-Initiations primarily in Portugal and Thailand. However, we do offer a few retreats around the world each year. Some may not be posted, so it is best to reach out to us to ask. To see our retreat schedule, please visit the “Iboga Retreat Schedule” page.
What is Iboga Assisted Detox?
This is a detox therapy that involves the ingestion of Iboga. The main active alkaloid in the shrub called Ibogaine can attenuate symptoms of addiction, suppress drug-seeking behavior and prevent withdrawal syndrome. It is effective even in patients with a long-term history of addiction, including heroin, opiates, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, and nicotine dependence. Please visit our “Iboga Assisted Detox” page to learn more about the program.
Who is Moughenda?
10th Generation Bwiti Shaman Moughenda has over 30 years of experience as Shaman, including many years treating people in and living in the United States and Costa Rica. More can be learned about Moughenda on the “Who is Moughenda” page.
Is Iboga like Ayahuasca?
Similar to Iboga, Ayahuasca has psychedelic effects and promotes neuroplasticity in the brain. Yet, Ayahuasca’s benefits revolve mainly around attenuating symptoms of depression, while Ibogaine has benefits for depression as well as drug-seeking behavior and withdrawal syndrome. We worked with our medical team to create a thorough post about the differences which can be viewed on the “Iboga vs. Ayahuasca” article.
What is Neuroplasticity?
Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain cells to grow and reorganize by forming new connections or rarely – new neurons. The main mechanisms are functional and structural neuroplasticity. Functional neuroplasticity is the formation of new connections called synapses between the brain cells and it plays a huge role in memory formation. Structural neuroplasticity involves the anatomical reorganization of the neurons as well as the formation of new ones. The process is also known as “remapping”. To learn more, please visit our “Neuroplasticity of Iboga and Ibogaine” page or our “Ibogaine Alkaloid Benefits” page.
How does Iboga increase Neuroplasticity?
Iboga contains an alkaloid called ibogaine which can activate several neurotrophic factors in the brain. The role of these factors is to protect brain cells from death or damage and promote their growth, differentiation, and the formation of new connections. The factors activated by Ibogaine are Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), and Glial Cell-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF). To learn more, please visit our “Neuroplasticity of Iboga and Ibogaine” page or our “Ibogaine Alkaloid Benefits” page.
Why do you need an EKG?
One of the side-effects of Ibogaine is that it blocks the potassium ion channels in the heart (Kv11.1 / hERG) which leads to changes in the cardiac rhythm such as prolonged QT-interval. There is a risk of serious negative effects for people with preexisting heart conditions which is why having cardiovascular diseases is a strict contraindication against the therapy. Undergoing EKG will help the medical team assess your heart health and discover if you have any contraindication such as changes in your QT interval. More can be learned on our “Iboga and Ibogaine Safety” page.
What medications should I avoid before Iboga?
Several drugs may prolong the QT interval, or interfere with the liver metabolism of Iboga which is a strong contraindication against the therapy. Examples of such medications include but are not limited to:
- Antidepressants, especially SSRIs
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Opioids and methadone
- Quinine and hydroxychloroquine
Combining Iboga therapy with such medications is dangerous and they should be tapered off before the detoxification. More can be learned on our “Iboga and Ibogaine Safety” page.
Is there a special diet for Iboga?
Unlike other Plant Medicines, there is not a strict diet for Iboga. One should eat healthy nutritious meals and avoid grapefruit, pomelo, quinine-containing drinks, and alcohol.
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. Similarly, consuming these foods before, during, or shortly after the Iboga therapy may block the liver metabolism of ibogaine and is strictly contraindicated. Quinine-containing drinks such as tonic and bitter-lemon, as well as alcohol hide similar risks. More can be learned on our “Iboga and Ibogaine Safety” page.
How does Iboga help with drug detox and addiction?
The main active alkaloid in Iboga is called Ibogaine. It affects several receptors and neurotrophic factors in the brain. For example, it blocks the transporters of dopamine in the brain, which normalizes its levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter related to desire, habit formation, and feelings of reward. Blocking its transporters intercepts the cravings and reduces symptoms of addition. Furthermore, the alkaloid blocks N-acetylcholine receptors aids in maintaining normal acetylcholine levels, and reduces drug-seeking behavior. Please visit our “Iboga Assisted Detox” page to learn more about our Detox program.
What is ataxia?
Ataxia is a neurological symptom that stands for a disturbance in muscle coordination. It involves difficulties with coordinating your movements, walking, and keeping balance. Ibogaine may cause transitory ataxia as a side-effect.
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 is also investigated as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s since it may help protect and even repair the neurons that are otherwise damaged due to the condition. Unfortunately, scientists do not have a reliable method to increase GDNF levels in the affected area.
Iboga happens to increase GDNF levels in the brain including the area affected by Parkinson’s. Due to lack of studies, we will have to wait for future research that will reveal if Iboga therapy may prove as a reliable method to treat this debilitating condition. To learn more, visit our “Ibogaine in the treatment of Parkinson’s and Autoimmune” Page.
How can Iboga potentially help with Autoimmune disease?
Ibogaine activates receptors in the brain called sigma-1 receptors (Sig1R). They can regulate the levels of neuroinflammation in the brain and their activation has powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the central nervous system. For example, Sig1R agonists have shown effectiveness against autoimmune encephalomyelitis (inflammation of the brain and the spinal cord). Agents such as Iboga which activate Sig1R may also benefit other autoimmune neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS). To learn more, visit our “Ibogaine in the treatment of Parkinson’s and Autoimmune” Page.
What is Noribogaine?
Noribogaine is the metabolite of Ibogaine – the main active substance in Iboga. Noribogaine mediates the majority of benefits and side effects of the therapy. Its half-life is 28-49 h.
How does Ibogaine prevent withdrawal?
Currently, the mechanism via which Ibogaine prevents withdrawal is not fully understood. Scientists suggest that the effects of increasing serotonin levels may be one of the main mechanisms. Furthermore, other neurotransmitters which are affected by Ibogaine and are currently under investigation include the kappa and mu-opioid receptors. Please visit our “Iboga Assisted Detox” page to learn more about our Detox program.