Plant Medicine Retreat
What is Plant Medicine
Plant medicine retreat refers to the traditional way of using medicinal plants such as herbs, roots, shrubs, leaves, tree barks in a retreat setting. The use of plants for medicinal purposes has a long history and is still highly preferred in many communities. Findings show that over 60% of the world’s population and around 80% in developing countries depend directly on medicinal plants for their medical needs. In recent times, this practice has enjoyed an unprecedented resurgence globally. This is due to the growing dissatisfaction with conventional medicine as more people now find these alternative therapies more effective, affordable, and accessible. Today, people travel from far and wide to attend plant medicine retreats in different countries to treat and prevent various psychological and medical conditions. There is an enormous body of scientific works and anecdotal reports confirming these plants’ effectiveness, even on life-threatening diseases. Our favorite plant medicines are of course Entheogens which refers to plants with psychedelic effects that have been used by indigenous people for thousands of years and are now offered in plant medicine retreats worldwide. Using the term entheogen is a good way to differentiate the “psychedelics” that are used traditionally by indigenous people, from the other forms of psychedelics which come from a lab that are typically used by modern partiers. Often, when people are talking about plant medicine retreats, they are referring to ones that use entheogens.
Different Types of Plant Medicines
Research shows that there are about 30,000 plants ever documented for various uses, and out of all these, 17,810 plant species have medicinal use. This shows that our world is highly rich with natural sources of healing and vitality. We are just scratching the surface of what is available to us. However, from these documented medicinal plants, the entheogens, are among the most powerful and beneficial to human health. This is due to a large part because they offer spiritual, mental, and emotional healing, in addition to the physical healing benefits. The entheogens we will be talking about are ayahuasca, cacti, mushrooms, and Iboga (of course) because they are most common in plant medicine retreats.
Ayahuasca is a brew made from the stalks of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine and the leaves of the Psychotria Viridis shrub. Cacti are succulent plants with fleshy stems, typically bear spines, and are without leaves. Some cacti are psychoactive and highly rich in mescaline. Examples are San Pedro, Peyote, Peruvian Torch, and Bolivian Torch. Psychedelic mushrooms or magic mushrooms contain a naturally-occurring compound called psilocybin. Iboga refers to the inner rootbark of the Iboga plant, a perennial shrubs native to certain West African countries and used for both medicinal and traditional purposes. The alkaloid Ibogaine and some similar alkaloids can also be found in Voacanga Africana and Tabernanthe manii.
Apart from being hallucinogenic, another thing these plants have in common is their ability to interact with various receptors in the body and initiate a healing process. In most cases, they help an ailing body and mind regain optimum health by rewiring the affected area to a similar state it was before the condition is triggered. Various mood and anxiety disorder patients have benefitted tremendously from these plants. Various studies have established their effectiveness on depression, PSTD, OCD, anxiety, chronic pain, neurodegenerative diseases, substance addiction, and other related conditions. They are also known for their deep spiritual connection due to their long history with many traditions across the world. In many places, plant medicines serve religious, medicinal, and recreational purposes.
Iboga – The Godfather of all Plant Medicines
While most medicinal plants are known for high efficacy, safety, and tolerance, iboga is known as the Godfather of all plant medicines for many medical and spiritual reasons. Also known as the Tree of Life, the use of iboga for traditional and medicinal purposes dates back to thousands of years among the indigenous Bwiti people of Gabon, Cameroon, and some parts of Congo. It is a very powerful plant that ignites personal and spiritual transformation in users. It enters the body with the aim of sparking awakening and healing, helping people overcome yearlong dysfunctional issues and bottled-up emotions. Iboga’s unique spiritual power brings users ‘face-to-face’ with their past, heal their trauma, and rid their self-limiting beliefs, thereby leading to a new life. The indigenous people in those West African countries treat iboga as a sacred plant that helps solve pathological problems, meet religious needs, stabilize their community, and promote spiritual growth.
Iboga holds a highly revered status in the Bwiti tradition, which has been in practice for thousands of years. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to discuss Bwiti without mentioning iboga because the sacred plant represents the major elements of the tradition. The Missoko Bwiti tradition started with the Babongo people of Gabon and is now being practiced in other African tribes, including the Fang tribes of Cameroon and Congo.
One of the most popular Bwiti practices is the Initiation, which is a kind of ‘coming of age’ ritual. During the initiation and other Bwiti ceremonies, a large amount of iboga is consumed, with traditional music and dancing. Depending on the activities involved, a Bwiti ceremony can last for several hours or even days. Nearly every aspect of the Missoko tradition is deeply connected to the Iboga spirit, and the plant is their main sacrament.
What Goes into an Iboga Retreat?
In recent times, the Bwiti iboga retreat has been recognized as a powerful traditional healing practice. It has unique arrangements, activities, and experience which distinguishes it from other plant medicine retreats. The retreat is typically led by well-trained Bwiti Iboga Providers with the presence of medical personnel, counselors, and medical facilities to encourage growth and optimal healing. Iboga retreats usually last for eight days. It includes airport transfer, accommodation, medical screening, integration day trips, orientation, counseling, spiritual power, healthy food, yoga, meditation, herbal steam sauna, and massage.
The first day is typically spent preparing for the retreat. This includes the pickup from the airport, enough time to settle in, a one-on-one interview with the retreat leaders, and orientations on everything a participant needs to know about the ceremony.
The retreat proper starts on the second day with relaxing activities and medical checks of vital organs. Then as the days go by, guests will have the opportunity to do some healing and preparation activities. From the time you arrive at the retreat until you leave, we will be right there with you giving guests everything we’ve got to ensure they can easily adapt and integrate into the spiritual healing.
Safety is a top priority during iboga retreat, which is why guests are taken through health evaluation questions and checking of EKG, liver function test, and a review of ongoing medications (if any). A pre-retreat plan may be arranged to prevent contradictions and ensure the patient maximizes the health benefits of the plant. Ideal accommodation and diet are other important aspects of iboga retreats. This is why the ceremony is held in a beautiful and comfortable environment that guarantees guests’ privacy and comfort. The accommodation typically has a private bath and bed, stunning outdoor scenery, and calming spaces to reflect in. All these attributes will help the body and mind relax and prepare. Also, meals served throughout the ceremony are healthy and mostly local and organic – perfectly ideal for the ceremony.
How to Prepare for a Plant Medicine Retreat
Set and setting largely determine the outcome of every plant medicine retreat. ‘Set’ refers to your mindset, while ‘setting’ means the physical and social environment in which the ceremony takes place. Regardless of a plant’s potency, getting a desirable result will be difficult or even impossible without the right set and setting.
As explained above, the importance of safety measures and ideal location cannot be overemphasized. Before registering for a plant medicine retreat, ask questions on the kind of environment the ceremony would take place and the available safety measures. If you are seeking Iboga, please ensure you deal with an iboga provider who has been trained and cleared by a Bwiti shaman. Patronizing an untrained provider can be very dangerous. Also, there has been a growing concern about the commodification of the traditional, sacred iboga plant. You need to ensure the iboga provided at the ceremony is from a Bwiti source and the medicine has been traditionally harvested and ceremonially prepared. Lastly, ensure that the retreat is a Bwiti iboga retreat and not just an iboga retreat. This is the only way you can fully benefit from the health effects of the 30 potent alkaloids in the iboga root and experience the full iboga spirit within and around you.
The recent surge in plant medicine research has led to various ways of administering these medicinal healings. This includes therapies in a hospital-like setting, herbal supplements sold online and in shops, edible and topical products containing these plants. While these methods provide some degrees of relief, they cannot be as potent as the traditional application at plant medicine retreats. Going the traditional way guarantees both therapeutic and spiritual benefits, which address the root cause of various emotional issues and provide a long-lasting solution. Give Bwiti iboga retreat a try today, and you won’t regret doing so, as long as you patronize the right provider.
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