Large Tabernanthe Iboga Tree

Why is Iboga Better Than Ibogaine?

Iboga, which is also known as the godfather of all plant medicines, contains many alkaloids with potent healing properties. 

So far scientists have discovered dozens of compounds but the full therapeutic potential of most of them remains unknown. Thus, the true power of Iboga may come from several molecules or even the interaction between them.

On the other hand, the standard medical approach involves the use of only one of the alkaloids – Ibogaine, which is proven to alleviate symptoms of drug addiction, withdrawal, depression, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. Studies have also shown that it may even help with Parkinson’s, Autoimmune disease, Viruses (HIV, Hepatitis), and other physical conditions. 

Although all forms of Iboga and Ibogaine therapy should be used under medical supervision, taking Iboga instead of Ibogaine will actually boost its benefits. 

That’s thanks to the hundreds or thousands of additional compounds you would be missing out on if you take Ibogaine alone.

What is more, it’s important to preserve the spirit of Iboga inside the medicine for true spiritual healing, according to the Bwiti Shamans who are the real experts.

What is Iboga and Ibogaine?

Iboga

Iboga is the inner root bark of an African shrub called Tabernanthe Iboga. The plant originates from the lands of equatorial West Africa and the tribes inhabiting Southern Gabon were the first to discover it and its benefits thousands of years ago.

To this day, Iboga is used as the main sacrament of the Bwiti spiritual tradition. The root bark can be consumed as tea or taken directly in the form of scrapings or powder. The Bwiti practitioners use Iboga for initiation rituals, ceremonies, mental/physical/spiritual stimulation, healing, spiritual growth, and guidance.

The hallucinogenic, spiritual, and healing properties of the plant are due to the presence of at least 12 alkaloids, whose concentration reaches up to 6% in the inner root bark of the shrub.

Ibogaine

The first one of these molecules was discovered by Édouard Landrin in 1900 and named Ibogaine. It’s also the alkaloid with the highest concentration in the plant and carries its psychoactive and medicinal properties (1).

This led to its first use in western medicine during the 1930s, as a stimulant and antidepressant (2).

Three decades later, it was also found that the alkaloid can suppress withdrawal symptoms and drug-seeking behavior in people addicted to heroin, morphine, cocaine, amphetamine, and alcohol (3).

Since then, scientists have studied Ibogaine in isolation rather than as a part of the whole plant. 

Nevertheless, numerous trials have showcased its effectiveness for attenuating symptoms of depression, drug addiction, and withdrawal (4, 5, 6). This includes withdrawal to opioids, cocaine, alcohol, and others.

Limitations of Research

Unfortunately, research is also limited by the legal status of the plant. Since Iboga and Ibogaine are psychedelics, they are classified as Schedule I substances which makes them illegal for possession according to federal law.

Only several cities in California & Massachusetts and the entire state of Oregon have decriminalized the use and possession of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes, including ibogaine. 

Meanwhile, Iboga and Ibogaine are successfully employed as a treatment in several countries including Portugal, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, and Thailand

Ibogaine vs Iboga – Which One is Better?

Despite the fact that Ibogaine has been studied mostly in isolation rather than as a part of the Iboga, we believe that the combination of the different alkaloids may further enhance the beneficial potential for treating addiction and depression.

Addiction

According to the research, Ibogaine works by modulating several receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine. By blocking the uptake of dopamine the alkaloid can reset its levels and attenuate symptoms of addiction, and withdrawal (7).

Scientists reveal that the process can reverse the dopamine sensitization induced by drugs, which is the underlying cause of these symptoms (8).

What is more, Ibogaine provides a prolonged reduction in the stimulatory effect of opioids and cocaine on dopamine levels (9).

Yet, Ibogaine is not the only active alkaloid in the root bark of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub. Iboga contains dozens of alkaloids and preliminary research suggests that most of them can enhance its medicinal benefits.

For example, researchers have found that other alkaloids such as tabernanthine (13-methoxy ibogamine), ibogamine, and coronaridine also modify the dopamine levels in the brain and enhance potent effects against addiction and withdrawal on their own (10).

In fact, one of the forms of Ibogamine was even more potent than Ibogaine in inducing abstinence in rats addicted to cocaine and morphine. This means that the benefits of ibogaine will be potentiated when used in conjunction with the rest of the alkaloids.

Depression and Mental Health Conditions

Some of the antidepressant properties of Ibogaine may be due to its effects on activating receptors in the brain such as the sigma-2 receptors (11).

Once again, research reveals that ibogaine is not the only alkaloid in Iboga activating these receptors. 

Tabernanthine is also a potent activator for the sigma-2 and the combination of alkaloids in the form of Iboga therapy may provide additional benefits against mental conditions such as depression (12). 

More Effective

Keep in mind that taking Iboga still brings the potency and effects of Ibogaine, Thus, we recommend Iboga as a more effective option in attenuating the symptoms of drug craving/withdrawal, and treating mental health conditions.

The available Iboga treatments can vary but practitioners usually use Iboga Root Bark, Iboga Total Alkaloid extract (TA), or a combination of the two. This is what we do at Root Healing Iboga Retreats and Iboga Detoxes

Safety of Iboga and Ibogaine Therapy

Both Iboga and Ibogaine should be taken with proper supervision and care. However, Iboga is much safer and can be done safely after proper medical screening. 

Ibogaine & Noribogaine

Ibogaine and its main metabolite called Noribogaine have inhibitory effects on ion channels in the heart which regulate the electrical system of the cardiac muscle and the cardiac rhythm (13). The duration of these effects depends on the half-life of Noribogaine, which is 28-49 hours (14).

Since the neutralization of Noribogaine occurs mostly in the liver, medications or diseases that block the liver metabolism can slow down the process and prolong the effect of the alkaloid on the heart. 

What is more, there are some contraindicated medications that should be reviewed by an experienced team. They either block the liver enzymes, block the ion channels in the heart, or block both which makes these drug-drug interactions potentially dangerous.

Therefore, both Iboga and Ibogaine should be used only with a medical team or trained Iboga Providers, and after undergoing complete medical examination by an experienced physician.

Iboga Root Bark and Iboga TA are much safer

Nevertheless, using Iboga Root Bark or TA extract is widely considered as much safer than Ibogaine alone, since Noribogaine is the most dangerous metabolite.

That’s because the addition of alkaloids such as tabernanthine (13-methoxy ibogamine), ibogamine, and coronaridine enhances the effects of Iboga and reduces the need for higher Ibogaine doses.

At the same time, using a TA extract allows for dosing that is as precise as using Ibogaine alone, while still receiving the benefits from all alkaloids and the interactions between them.

Lower doses of Ibogaine in the system also carry lower risks of side effects. In our experience, weight-based dosing of Ibogaine which is common in most treatment centers is also not the most optimal approach.

That’s because we have observed that tolerance and safety towards Iboga and Ibogaine are not related to bodyweight alone. 

Instead, we recommend using progressive increments based on the physiological and psychological responses of each individual.

The Spirit of the Iboga

What’s most important though, is that the spirit of Iboga remains in the medicine. When working with Ibogaine, most forms of TA, and even some Root Bark, the spirit is completely gone due to the extraction process or handling. In order to properly ensure that the spirit remains, TA must be made in a special way that ensures the spirit remains. Our Iboga TA is carefully made by both our Shaman and Chemist to protect the spirit. Even the process of growing, harvesting, and preparing the Root Bark itself requires traditional ceremonial practices throughout.

The spirit of the medicine cannot be maintained in the creation of Ibogaine, which is the main reason it is less safe and lacks full spiritual healing. This is why both Iboga and properly prepared Iboga TA are much more effective healing tools than Ibogaine. 

Conclusion

As you can see, both Iboga Root Bark and properly prepared Iboga TA are much better and safer healing tools than Ibogaine. Iboga Root Bark and Iboga TA contain all of the beneficial alkaloids which have both individual and synergistic benefits, enhancing the efficacy of each. Ibogaine is just the single extracted alkaloid. Some of the alkaloids, like Ibogamine have even been shown to be more effective as an anti-addictive treatment. Iboga Root Bark and Iboga TA are also much safer, among other reasons, due to the support of the other alkaloids and lower levels of noribogaine in the body. Most importantly though, is the fact that the spirit of Iboga is long gone by the time it is extracted into Ibogaine, making it devoid of most of the spiritual benefits and much less safe. 

References:

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  2. Goutarel, R., Gollnhofer, O., & Sillans, R. (1993). Pharmacodynamics and therapeutic applications of iboga and ibogaine. Psychedelic Monographs and Essays, 6, 70-111.
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  9. Maisonneuve, I. M., Rossman, K. L., Keller, R. W., Jr, & Glick, S. D. (1992). Acute and prolonged effects of ibogaine on brain dopamine metabolism and morphine-induced locomotor activity in rats. Brain research, 575(1), 69–73. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-8993(92)90424-8 
  10. Glick, S. D., Kuehne, M. E., Raucci, J., Wilson, T. E., Larson, D., Keller, R. W., Jr, & Carlson, J. N. (1994). Effects of iboga alkaloids on morphine and cocaine self-administration in rats: relationship to tremorigenic effects and to effects on dopamine release in nucleus accumbens and striatum. Brain research, 657(1-2), 14–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-8993(94)90948-2 
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