Used for thousands of years by the Bwiti tribe of West Africa, iboga is central in their beliefs and is an integral part of their religion. Extracted from the root of the Tabernanthe iboga shrub, iboga is traditionally used in rites of passage ceremonies and also as a powerful healer. This substance is considered sacred and used for healing in many different situations.
Not limited to tribal rituals and religious ceremonies, iboga has long made its way out of Africa and is becoming well known in another aspect of healing. Unprecedented for healing addiction at both a physical and psychological level, ibogaine is the principle active compound found within iboga.
Here we have two substances from the same plant. Iboga is predominantly used amongst the some 3 million Bwiti tribesmen and women throughout the Cameroon, Gabon, and Zaire. Ibogaine on the other hand is used primarily in the West as a treatment for addiction. What exactly is the difference between ibogaine and iboga, though? If it’s from the same plant isn’t it doing the same thing under a different name? Not exactly.
Iboga is truly one of the central aspects of the Bwiti. Traditionally it has been used for centuries and is the mainstay of their spiritual and religious practice. Iboga is used in several different ceremonies and is used by virtually all members of their society. When talking about Iboga we are referring to the literal root bark of the Iboga plant, usually in powdered form. This is what the Bwiti ingest during their rituals.
For rites of passage ceremonies huge doses of iboga are taken. It is these rites of passage rituals that hallucinations and deeply personal inner journeys occur. To get to this altered state, initiates consume vast amounts of the powdered root bark. Some doses may be up to a couple pounds of iboga, with amounts this large most often ingested during the course of the entire ceremony.
In smaller doses iboga is traditionally taken as an emotional healing tool. People in the tribe who are experiencing stress or trauma will take iboga in smaller ceremonies that focus on emotional and spiritual healing.
Iboga is also used in weekly ceremonies amongst the Bwiti every Saturday night. These ceremonies run into Sunday morning and bring the tribe together to dance, feast, and experience nlem myore, or “one heart only”, which can also be thought of as a state of communal happiness and connection. At these ceremonies small to moderate doses of iboga are taken that enable tribe members to spiritually connect without going into the full-blown iboga experience.
Ibogaine, best known in the West for its positive results as an addiction treatment, is one of approximately eleven different chemical compounds found in the Tabernanthe iboga plant. Where iboga is the root, ibogaine is a compound found within the root.
Ibogaine, the active chemical compound found in iboga, is what is most commonly used as an addiction treatment. Ibogaine treatment clinics that can be found throughout Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America are using ibogaine rather than iboga to treat addiction.
Ibogaine was first isolated in 1901 and finally discovered as an anti-addictive agent some sixty years later. When taken for addiction, treatment centers typically use around 20 milligrams per kilogram of patient weight. For an average 150 pound person around 1400 milligrams of ibogaine would be a typical dose.
By using the extracted pure Ibogaine during treatment we are able to give the patient more of the drug they need to treat the addiction. In this way ibogaine can be more closely monitored and adjusted to fit patient’s individual needs. Ibogaine is metabolized in the body as noribogaine, which is a metabolite produced by the liver. This may be part of the reason why ibogaine is particularly effective at detoxifying the body and bringing one closer to their pre-addicted state.
Ibogaine or Iboga
The experience gathered from both iboga and ibogaine undoubtedly provides healing unlike anything else known. Both induce a hallucinatory experience, this found more prevalent in clinical ibogaine use and initiation ceremonies with iboga.
The difference in the two can be found in the way the substance is extracted and experienced. With iboga one is immersed in the deep religious and spiritual experience it is used for and most often used amongst the Bwiti tribe. With ibogaine one is immersed within a compound of the whole, and is most often used to heal addiction rather than for religious or spiritual gain.
With both iboga and ibogaine treatment one thing is certainly clear. Found within this root of an African plant is contained immense healing potential…as well as the power to positively change one’s life.