Ibogaine vs. Iboga - Which One is Better?
Table of Contents
Iboga, also known as the godfather of all plant medicines, contains many alkaloids capable of providing powerful healing effects.
Researchers have discovered dozens of compounds in the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub, but most remain untested as therapeutic agents. Thus, the true power of Iboga may come from several molecules or even the interaction between them.
Meanwhile, the standard medical approach uses only one alkaloid – 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 diseases, Viruses (HIV, Hepatitis), and other physical conditions.
While Ibogaine has all this fantastic research behind it, it is just one of the active alkaloids in Iboga. What’s more, Iboga is a plant medicine with an intelligent healing spirit, and by the time you have extracted Ibogaine, the spirit will be gone. So, taking Iboga instead of Ibogaine is much more beneficial for healing for several reasons, which we will discuss below.
What is Iboga?
Iboga is the inner root bark of an African shrub called Tabernanthe Iboga. The inner root bark is utilized because it contains the highest alkaloid content. Tabernanthe Iboga is indigenous to equatorial West Africa, and the Babongo of Southern Gabon were the first to discover its medicinal benefits. Iboga continues to be the sacrament of the Bwiti spiritual tradition.
Traditionally, the root bark is ground into a powder and taken in this form,
This shrub contains at least 12 alkaloids with concentrations up to 6% in the inner root bark, which contributes to its hallucinogenic, spiritual, and healing properties. Yet, the essential aspect of its ability to heal is the intelligent spirit it contains.
What is Ibogaine?
Ibogaine was first discovered by Édouard Landrin in 1900. It’s also the alkaloid with the highest concentration in the plant and carries its psychoactive and medicinal properties (1).
It was first used in western medicine during the 1930s as a stimulant and antidepressant (2). Three decades later, it was found that the alkaloid can suppress withdrawal symptoms and drug-seeking behavior in people addicted to heroin, morphine, cocaine, amphetamine, and alcohol (3).
Numerous trials have showcased its effectiveness in attenuating symptoms of depression, drug addiction, and withdrawal (4, 5, 6). This includes withdrawal from opioids, cocaine, alcohol, and others.
Since then, scientists have studied Ibogaine in isolation rather than as a part of the whole plant.
Limitations of Research
The plant’s legal status also limits research. Due to its psychedelic properties, Ibogaine is regarded as a Schedule I substance in the United States, which makes possession illegal under federal law. It is also regulated in many other countries worldwide.
Summary of above:
The Bwiti have used Iboga for thousands of years, and Ibogaine was discovered in 1900. However, most scientists have focused only on Ibogaine since its discovery, ignoring Iboga itself and the rest of the alkaloids. The legal status of Ibogaine as a scheduled drug has also limited scientific research.
Why is Iboga Better Than Ibogaine?
Even though Ibogaine has been studied chiefly in isolation rather than as a part of the Iboga, we believe that the natural combination the different alkaloids may further enhance the beneficial potential for treating addiction and depression. Furthermore, research on other alkaloids has found that they are almost equally effective.
According to the research, Ibogaine works by modulating several receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine. By blocking dopamine uptake, the alkaloid can reset its levels and attenuate addiction and withdrawal symptoms (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 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 alkaloids called 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).
An Already Perfect Recipe
Iboga and its alkaloids are already a natural perfect recipe for healing. Keep in mind that taking Iboga still brings the potency and effects of Ibogaine along with everything else. The science also clearly shows that the inclusion of the other alkaloids makes it the 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.
Comparing the Safety of Iboga and Ibogaine Therapy
Ibogaine & Noribogaine
Ibogaine and its primary metabolite, 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 mainly 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.
There are also some contraindicated medications that should be reviewed by an experienced team. This is because they either block the liver enzymes, ion channels in the heart, or 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, after undergoing a 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 much safer than Ibogaine alone since Noribogaine is the most dangerous metabolite.
That’s because keeping the 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. However, in our experience, weight-based dosing of Ibogaine which is common in most treatment centers is also not the most optimal approach.
We have observed that tolerance and safety towards Iboga and Ibogaine are not related to body weight alone.
Instead, we recommend dosing in progressive increments based on each individual’s physiological and psychological responses.
The Spirit of Iboga - Godfather of Plant Medicines
The most important aspect of a person’s healing is that Iboga’s spirit remains in the medicine. This will increase both efficacy and safety.
The spirit of Iboga cannot be maintained in the creation of Ibogaine, which is the main reason it is less safe and lacks complete spiritual healing. In addition, in most available forms of TA, and even some Root Bark, the spirit is lost during extraction or handling.
Growing, harvesting, and preparing the Root Bark requires traditional ceremonial practices properly, and TA must be made in a particular way to ensure the spirit remains.
This is why the right Iboga and properly prepared Iboga TA are much more effective healing tools than Ibogaine.
Iboga Root Bark and properly prepared Iboga TA are much safer and more effective 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 a single extracted alkaloid. It has even been shown that a few alkaloids, such as Ibogamine, have stronger anti-addiction properties. Due to the presence of other alkaloids and the lower levels of noribogaine in the body, Iboga Root Bark and Iboga TA are also much safer.
However, the presence of Iboga’s spirit is really what makes it superior to Ibogaine. Ibogaine is devoid of this and its spiritual and safety benefits.
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