Healing at the Root
Root Healing Iboga Retreats are 8-day long retreats that are rooted in the Bwiti tradition. If you’re new to Iboga’s rich history, Bwiti is a spiritual tradition that has worked with Iboga as their sacrament for thousands of years, starting in southern Gabon. There are several branches of Bwiti and the one we practice is called Missoko.
"The Godfather of all plant medicines"
Iboga, called the “Godfather of all plant medicines,” is used by the Bwiti for physical healing, spiritual healing, and spiritual discovery.
The most well-known active alkaloid found within the root of the Iboga plant (an African shrub with the species name Tabernanthe iboga) is called ibogaine. Ibogaine became famous after its anti-addictive qualities, particularly for opiate addiction, were discovered. It is now widely used throughout the world despite its legality issues.
In actuality, Iboga contains over 30+ alkaloids, some of which have been proven to have even stronger anti-addictive properties than Ibogaine. These special alkaloids work synergistically to promote the potent spiritual, mental and physical healing for which it is used by the Bwiti.
All of our retreats are led by our highly trained and empowered Iboga Providers. Each retreat is steeped in the Missoko Bwiti tradition, ensuring a holistic and potent experience for our guests.
In addition to our Bwiti team, our medical, science, and hospitality experts accompany all retreats to help offer a safe and comfortable environment.
All retreats include 2 Iboga ceremonies, integration day trips, medical screening, orientation, spiritual showers, counseling, healthy food, accommodations, airport transfer, fireside teachings, and integration calls.
Root Healing Iboga retreats are offered year-round in Portugal.
Each of our 8-day Iboga retreats include:
How do I know if Iboga is right for me?
You must make this very personal and important decision for yourself, but we are here to help.
To ensure a safe Iboga experience, guests will go through our intake process to determine if there are any discriminating health factors or medications. Once the process is complete, the experience is very safe.
Besides that, the main requirement for a successful Iboga experience is the willingness to heal by accepting the truth and letting go. This is the main marker for when someone is ready; if they are, they will experience powerful healing.
In the Bwiti tradition, Iboga is for everyone and is used in “initiations” or coming-of-age ceremonies that connect boys and girls to the tradition and the community. The initiations help to root these into themselves, ensuring a healthy adult life. They will also have ceremonies again when people have deviated from a healthy path and need to course-correct their lives or heal somehow.
As is true to our tradition, we believe that all people can benefit from an Iboga ceremony. Typically, we work with people who are seeking deep healing, need to heal from depression, anxiety, ptsd, trauma, addictions, self-hatred, anger, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, auto-immune diseases, and more.
For help deciding if Iboga is suitable for you, please reach out to us at any time.
Iboga Retreats & The Bwiti
Bwiti and the Iboga plant’s symbiotic relationship goes back thousands of years to when the Iboga plant was first discovered. Iboga became a sacrament of the Bwiti, with nearly every aspect of their tradition and their ceremonies given to them by the spirit of Iboga itself. Iboga is such an important part of their lives, that it is used as the initiation into the tradition and is consumed regularly at ceremonies.
At Root Healing Iboga Retreats, you can always expect a unique healing experience guided by the core Bwiti principles. We believe in maintaining Bwiti tradition and practices throughout all of our work, as they ensure a safe and powerful Iboga retreat ceremony.
Recent scientific research has revealed a lot about the healing benefits of Iboga and Ibogaine, the primary active alkaloid found in Iboga root. Studies have shown that Ibogaine treatment can help with:
Ibogaine is also known to promote neuroplasticity in the brain (or reorganization of synaptic pathways) and to have antimicrobial and anti-viral properties, including against HIV. For more information on Iboga’s benefits, check out our Scientific Resources page.
Studies focusing on the potential of Iboga treatments are exciting, but the Bwiti have known about Iboga’s deep healing properties for a very long time, plus they’ve gained wisdom regarding how to enhance the plant’s benefits through powerful ceremonial practices and rituals. These practices have been passed down to us through our Missoko Bwiti lineage.
What to Expect: Iboga Retreat Overview
Joining a 8-day Iboga retreat is a chance to connect deeply to yourself and to heal holistically, meaning physically, mentally, and spiritually. With this in mind, our retreats are designed to remove distractions, create a safe container, and to empower you to work towards your goals.
During your intake process, we will help you safely prepare for the retreat. From the moment you arrive, you will not have to worry about anything outside of your own healing and connection with Iboga.
You’ll partake in two Iboga ceremonies during your 8-day retreat. You’ll also be provided with counseling and support, as retreats are structured to ensure you receive the most that you can out of your journey. We find that two ceremonies are crucial in gaining the most benefits from Iboga, as this allows for physical and mental detox, as well as deeper spiritual healing.
Aside from using “the medicine,” guests will be immersed in the Bwiti tradition. With our fireside talks and counseling throughout, guests will be empowered with the tools to continue to be their own healers and to live a happy life long after they go home.
Iboga treatment is unique to each person, so everyone’s experience varies, which is why we offer individual preparation beforehand, as well as counseling and guidance throughout our guests’ stay. All Root Healing guests will have preparation calls and as many integration calls as they need following the retreat. Guests will also be included in our community group where we continue to support each other and can ask and answer any questions that come up.
By the end of the retreat, guest usually leave feeling happy and excited to continue on with their lives how they want to, with this newfound self-love leading the way. However, this can be lost without the proper integration that we offer as a core part of our program.
How long does it last?
We can break down the phases of each Iboga ceremony into four parts.
- The first phase is the fire talk ceremony, where we will talk about where Iboga comes from and the Bwiti tradition. The healing already starts here. The Iboga spirit has given everything to the Bwiti tradition, which is why this is the most effective container to hold the ceremony and retreat in. People will also begin taking medicine at the fire and feeling the initial effects in this phase before lying down.
- The next phase of the experience will be lying down in the candle-lit ceremony room. We will be playing Bwiti music which also comes from Iboga and helps amplify and keep you anchored in the experience.
- The experience’s third phase is when you return to your room at sunrise. We call this processing day because you will be processing much of what came up in the ceremony and new things too. The processing days are probably the most important parts of the experience and bring about profound epiphanies and realizations about your life.
- The fourth phase is integrating the experience into the real world. We will do this on a micro-level during the retreat in our integration day trips, where we will go out to the beach, Sintra town, and nearby trails to connect and talk. Of course, this will also be a considerable part of the post-retreat experience. We have a very extensive integration program to ensure your success.
What does Iboga or Ibogaine do to your brain, and is it safe?
Iboga has a complex effect on the brain by affecting the activity of several neurotransmitters. It also has some physical effects, like slowing heart rate and ataxia. However, when properly screened and taken with the right team, it is very safe. It can actually heal the brain by restoring balance and potentiating neuroplasticity.
Iboga is a powerful sacramental plant that has been used by the Bwiti for thousands of years. Therefore, they know how to work with this powerful plant medicine in a safe way. This knowledge has been passed down from our Shaman to our entire team.
To ensure safety, we follow their traditional, time-honored rituals for using Iboga. Our guests are also supported by a medical and hospitality team to ensure a safe experience.
Root Healing has a full medical team on staff who are experts on the safe use of Iboga. All retreats require a Health Questionnaire, EKG, and Liver Function Test which will be reviewed by our team. Furthermore, our Detoxes are done with a Doctor, Nurse, and Detox Specialist on-site.
As a guest of a Root Healing retreat, you will be provided with:
What’s the difference between Iboga and Ibogaine?
While much more well-known and commonly used, ibogaine is just a single extracted alkaloid of Iboga. The inner root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub contains many beneficial alkaloids, some of which have proven to be just as effective or more effective than ibogaine. The alkaloid content of Iboga is like a perfect recipe for healing. We liken the extraction of ibogaine to working with just one ingredient of your favorite dish. The complete alkaloids of Iboga Root Bark work synergistically to amplify the healing of your body, mind, and soul. For several reasons, working with Iboga is much safer than working with ibogaine therapy.
Most importantly, by the time ibogaine has been extracted, the spirit of Iboga has left. Without the wisdom of the spirit of Iboga, you cannot get truly complete healing.
While the retreat experience is incredible and transformative, the “work” required by guests after leaving a retreat is just as important. Iboga stays with you up to 6 months after you experience it. During that time you have the opportunity to rewire your brain and to take control of your life and story.
For this reason, we care a lot about integration, in which you weave your experiences from Iboga treatment into your life. All participants receive integration coaching calls following their retreat, as well as “homework” to assist in furthering their relationship with the medicine and their progress related to the goals they came with.
What are the Effects of Iboga?
The effects of Iboga are unique in classification and experience. It is often considered a psychedelic because of its psychoactive effects. However, the effects are entirely different. There usually aren’t ineffable cryptic visions or disorientation, but rather a fully conscious awareness; which often is the most conscious moment in a person’s life up to that point. More accurately, Iboga has been called an oneirogenic psychedelic because it is a very clear, lucid, and dream-like experience.
In addition, while Iboga is known as the “Godfather” of all plant medicines, it is both a masculine and a feminine spirit, manifesting in whatever way is needed to facilitate each person’s individual healing.
The way Iboga expresses this is by revealing the truth to us about our relationship with ourselves.
The spirit of Iboga’s primary goal is to bring you back to your most genuine true self. To do that, Iboga must first remove anything it can in our bodies that doesn’t belong there and also bring our physical systems back into balance. Then it will also begin working on our minds by clearing out all the junk and patterns we have picked up throughout our lives. Like cleaning a computer, it quickly gets to work sifting through the old files and programming. At some point, a person will have the opportunity to connect to their soul, get the truth about essential questions, and connect with their ancestors.
8-day Retreat Schedule
Upon arrival, guests will be brought to the center by one of our drivers. The entire first day/evening is free to allow guests to settle in.
Then, the group partakes in an evening opening orientation ceremony to begin the retreat. The following day, guests will work with our team to prepare their intentions and questions for the first Iboga ceremony that will be held that night. This helps you to stay on track, bring everything to the surface, and lets Iboga know what you need.
The first Iboga ceremony begins in the evening and continues until the next day. Guests generally feel the effects until they go to sleep. After a good night’s rest, the team goes out into nature to reflect on the previous ceremony, and discuss intentions.
The second Iboga ceremony will begin that evening of the 5th day and will again continue into the following day. After another rest, we will venture out to visit the town of Sintra and the beach.
The retreat will have a closing ceremony, after which the care will transition into the immensely important real-life integration phase. We will have several calls to help you through this important time. For more details on scheduling, visit our Iboga Retreat Schedule page.
Our Psychospiritual Retreat Team
Ryan "Ghenigho" Rich is the founder of Root Healing. He is initiated, trained, and empowered in the Missoko Bwiti tradition. Ryan co-leads the retreats with Moubengui and Ebando. As our lead Detox Specialist, he also oversees all Detoxes at Root Healing.
Madeleine "Ebando" Cullerton is a Bwiti Initiate and Iboga Provider who has experienced immense healing from Iboga for trauma and health conditions. She also has extensive experience in the hospitality industry and uses it to ensure quality experiences for our guests.
Steven "Moubengui" Callahan is one of the most experienced Bwiti healers, having worked with more than a thousand people over a period of 10+ years with his company called Iboga Healing. He has helped open numerous Iboga centers worldwide. He co-leads the Psychospiritual Retreats with Ghenigho and Ebando.
About our Center & Accomodations
At Root Healing, we strive to create a safe and nourishing space for our guests as they embark on the Iboga experience. Everything is taken care of so that you can focus on your own healing. Our goal is always to make you feel comfortable, cared for, and relaxed throughout your time here at our Iboga healing center.
Our accommodations include a choice of a shared room or private bed and bath. Our hospitality team keeps the center clean and homey.
The center is secluded in nature, with calming spaces to reflect in, and is a safe place that supports your healing.
All meals at Root Healing are healthy, locally sourced, and organic when possible. Our Chef creates specialized meal plans for each phase of the process. Ceremony days call for light and nourishing foods that prepare you for the night ahead. On processing days, we serve replenishing and fortifying options that will support you throughout the day. We tailor each retreat’s menu to the needs and preferences of the guests.
Our retreats are held in the magical valleys of Sintra, Portugal. Sintra has a rich history, a beautiful town, moderate weather, and stunning beaches. Guests will get the chance to enjoy all of these things throughout the retreat and during their integration day trips