How Does Ibogaine Work?

how does ibogaine workIsolated from the root of the Tabernanthe iboga plant native to Central West Africa, Ibogaine is an active alkaloid that has shown itself to be an excellent treatment for addiction. It has been used for thousands of years by the Bwiti tribe of Africa as both a powerful healing tool and in rites of passage ceremonies. In the early 1960s it was discovered that it stopped heroin and opiate withdrawal and has since been used to help addicts beat their addiction.

Ibogaine is a unique psychedelic plant with properties that are found nowhere else in the world.

How Ibogaine Works

Ibogaine is called the “waking dream.” The user stays immobile for the duration of the Ibogaine experience. This experience itself lasts approximately 12-24 hours. In order to have the most powerful effect the Ibogaine is administered when withdrawal symptoms are at their peak. During this time the Ibogaine treats the addiction on both the physical and psychological levels.

Resetting the Brain’s Physical Addiction

During the Ibogaine experience physical withdrawal symptoms are alleviated. Although we do not understand how this process fully works, we know that the Ibogaine alkaloid helps to refresh and reset the addicted receptors in the brain. Serotonin and dopamine levels that have been damaged due to excessive drug or alcohol use are flooded and are healed back to their pre-addicted state.

This process is completely unique. Some treatments, such as Methadone and Suboxone, are used to treat heroin addiction but can be very addictive and habit forming. Ibogaine, however, is non-addictive and once the treatment is finished there is no further need (or craving) to continue taking it.

Ibogaine takes the user on a journey. During this journey the physical cravings are dramatically reduced or even eliminated. However, this “waking dream” also targets another critical area of the brain–the psychological.

Addressing Psychological Trauma and Pain

Ibogaine also works on a psychological level. During the psychedelic experience users find themselves in a place where the conscious and subconscious merge together.

It is said that Ibogaine offers 6 months of therapy in one experience. While this may not hold true for every individual, most users are put face to face with their past, their present, and many of the hurtful decisions they have made to themselves and others. Underlying traumas are exposed and past experiences and memories may be brought to the forefront. The intention of Ibogaine is not to place fear on the user but to help by making them more open and accepting of their past. In this way, the user can deal with these deep seeded issues and begin to move on in a more positive and healthy direction.


After 8-12 hours the intensity of the Ibogaine begins to fade. Users may feel disoriented and some afterglow effects for another 8-12 hours. It is important that, after such an intense experience, the user takes time for introspection to sort out what they have just been through. During this time patients are better able to not only understand, but accept the reasons for their addiction and how they got to this point in their lives.

This can prove to be a vital part of the total treatment as the mind is still fresh and can remember the thoughts and feelings of the Ibogaine experience.

The release found in the Ibogaine experience is often one of deep healing. It is here that patients find deep forgiveness not only for others who have hurt them in the past, but also for themselves. Self-forgiveness is one of the most important aspects of addiction treatment, and Ibogaine seems to naturally guide patients to this. Only when one releases the guilt and shame that are associated with their addiction can they truly be free from it.

Many people that have had success with Ibogaine express how treatment has helped them feel hope for the future. The pain their addiction has covered up is released and there is promise for a future not only free from addiction, but free from the deep-seeded pains that led to addiction in the first place.