In contemporary society, Ibogaine is used as a powerful healing treatment for addiction. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Before it was banned in the 1960s due to the intense psychedelic properties it contains, Ibogaine, and the Iboga plant, had much more exotic roots founded in an ancient spiritual culture.
This Sacred Substance and the Bwiti
The roots of Ibogaine trace all the way back to Africa where the naturally occurring psychoactive substance has been used for thousands of years. It is especially sacred to the Bwiti religion of Cameroon and the Gabon region where they use the raw Iboga as a natural healer and in rites of passage ceremonies. Iboga is used ceremonially to assist in profound spiritual growth and deep introspection.
It is said that it was the pigmies that first discovered the psychedelic properties of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub. It is here, in the roots of this sacred Iboga plant, that the psychoactive alkaloids, including Ibogaine which it is known for, can be found. When the pigmies came across the root and realized the profound effect it had on the mind, they in turn passed the knowledge to others.
For the Bwiti, who supposedly learned of these powers from the pigmies, the psychoactive properties of Iboga are the backbone of their religion and culture. The entire religion of the Bwiti is centered around their spiritual and traditional use of the Iboga root bark. They have used it for centuries and still use it to this day to contact spirits, aid in profound spiritual transformation, and heal sick members of the tribe.
The Early Days of Ibogaine in Modern Society
In 1901 Ibogaine was first extracted from the Tabernanthe Iboga root and research of the substance began to make its way into scientific literature. These early studies of this compound paved the way for it to become one of the most impactful drugs of the early 20th century.
It was first used in France where it became a popular mental and physical stimulant that went by the name Lambarene, with each pill containing approximately 5-8 milligrams of Ibogaine. This pill, prescribed for general fatigue, depression, rehabilitation, and infectious disease, became most popular among olympic athletes as a stimulant.
It was eventually banned from use by the olympics. But Ibogaine had a more profound impact that was about to be discovered.
The Accidental Discovery as an Addiction Treatment
In 1962 a young heroin addict named Howard Lostof was looking for any psychedelic substances he could find. Eventually, he got his hands on some Ibogaine and found that, when the drug wore off, he had no withdrawal symptoms from not taking heroin. After testing this on a few of his heroin addicted friends, and having similar results, Lostof decided to make studying Ibogaine and the effects it had on addiction his life’s work.
He founded the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance which still helps promote and study Ibogaine today.
The Ban of Ibogaine and other Psychedelic Substances
Although Ibogaine was being studied by Lostof adamantly, his work was cut off in 1967 when Ibogaine, and other psychedelic substances, were banned by the US for scientific study as well as personal use.
Not ten years after Lostof had discovered a cure for heroin addiction through Ibogaine treatment, Ibogaine was put on the same list as heroin, meth, and other dangerous drugs and remains a Schedule Class I substance in the United States.
Ibogaine in Modern Society
Because of the powerful healing properties it possesses, the use of Ibogaine has spread around the world. In a time where drug addiction is at an all-time high, countries where Ibogaine is still legal have a number of Ibogaine treatment centers opening regularly. Popular in Mexico, Canada, and Central and South America there are many that travel thousands of miles to experience the power of Ibogaine treatment.
For those that can’t afford to travel to receive treatment with Ibogaine, they may just find it in the many underground communities throughout the US that want to help people beat their addiction. However, because of concerns about the safety of Ibogaine, this can be very dangerous.
Ibogaine has spread far from where it was first discovered by the pigmies and passed to the Bwiti tribe. In this powerful substance many have found solace from the addictions that bind them. From Native African tribesmen to the modern day addict, there are countless people who have found peace and freedom by experiencing the power this sacred plant possesses.