History of Ibogaine
Ibogaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid and psychoactive compound extracted from Iboga plant — Tabernanthe iboga.
The Iboga plant — found in West Africa’s Gabon and Cameroon — has existed, most likely, for thousands of years. As a psychoactive guide, traditionally, the root bark of the plant was eaten to induce visions and heal an assortment of ailments.
However, now in western culture we have isolated the main alkaloid of the iboga plant, Ibogaine, and have been using it for decades to treat heroin, opiate, methamphetamine, cocaine, methadone, alcohol, and food addictions as well as a number of mental conditions. Ibogaine has also been used during psychological introspection and spiritual discovery.
The Legend behind Iboga — Spirituality
The Pygmies of western central Africa were the first to discover the magic of the iboga root and it’s powerful hallucinogenic and healing properties. They continued spreading this knowledge to others, which saw it become adopted by the people of Gabon as a Bwiti practice. Bwiti is a spiritual ritual that revolves around the use of iboga. Bwiti faith is animistic, and iboga is drawn upon to evoke the spirits of ancestors and to heal the sick. Bwiti requires a three-day initiation in which the initiates drink an extract from the bark. In Gabon, it is still popular as a sacred medicine, and whose original name boghaha meaning “to care for.” Bwiti have used Iboga as a sacrament for thousands of years.
Ibogaine’s Journey to the Outside World
In 1864, the first Westerner, a French doctor, discovered the root and brought it to France. Botanists named it Tabernanathe iboga. However, it was in 1901 that two French scientists extracted the main alkaloid from the iboga plant and called it Ibogaine . The extract then went through a couple of demonstrations in France as a prescription drug, Lambarene, to counter fatigue and act as a mild stimulant in low dosages. Between 1939 and 1970, Lambarene continued to retail in France as a “neuromuscular stimulant” in 8 mg tablets as prescribed for fatigue, depression, and healing from contagious diseases.
In the 1950’s and 60’s it is speculated that the CIA was using ibogaine in their research within the MKULTRA project to test everything from increasing human potential to brainwashing, yet none of these claims were fully supported. In 1955, Harris Isbell administered dosages of ibogaine to eight readily detoxified morphine dependents at the U.S. Addiction Research Center in Lexington, Kentucky.
Probably the most important event in Ibogaine history occurred in 1962 when Howard Lotsof, a heroin addict, took ibogaine as a recreational drug and had an intense and challenging journey which he remarked he did not want to repeat. What was special about this event though is that he realized that, 30 hours later, when the effects had worn off he was no longer experiencing any withdrawal symptoms or desire to use heroin or cocaine. This began his journey and a new age in Ibogaine use as he made many attempts to commercialize and secure patents for the mass use of ibogaine for addiction treatment.
Between 1962 and 1963, Howard Lotsof administered ibogaine to 9 individuals in dosages of 6 to 19 mg/kg, with 7 of them being in opioid addiction–each of which noted an evident effect on acute withdrawal symptomatology.
After these efforts by Howard Lotsof, who was treating people in underground settings, there was widespread evidence of the efficiency of Ibogaine in interrupting substance addiction and especially heroin addiction. More scientific tests and drug trials were carried out over the next few decades on the ability of the plant extract to treat addiction. In the process, other functions such as psychotherapy, treatment for personal growth, and some mental conditions were also discovered and patented as ibogaine became popular, even in conventional medical circles. Howard Lotsof even acquired patents in the 1980’s for using Ibogaine to treat various drug addictions but was unable to get enough support to commercialize or was blocked by groups who did not want to see the use of this medicine grow.
What is Happening Now?
With a growing interest and more and more people using Ibogaine to treat addiction, we are seeing a new age in the history of this medicine. The internet, Facebook, and even major media have begun to expose the world to this medicine and all the potential and risks that it carries. Crossroads is continually working to further this vision of making Ibogaine a mainstream, medically supervised addiction treatment and with the thousands of people we have helped, we know it works.