Citation: Mindbody. "A Dark Jewel: An Experience with Tabernanthe iboga (exp78160)". Erowid.org. Oct 12, 2009. erowid.org/exp/78160
I notice very few trip reports are posted on this remarkable plant. Also, many of them are centered on addiction cure, whereas the potential appeal of iboga seems much broader. For me, the primary interest has been in the psychoanalytic/introspective aspects, along the lines of Claudio Naranjo's work described in his book The Healing Journey
. Here is what I have to say:
1. The material:
5g of finely shredded Cameroonian iboga root bark had been obtained from a Holland-based online vendor. The purported ibogaine contents was 5%. These numbers are for approximate reference only: I have not weighed the material myself, let alone performing any measurements of its alkaloid contents.
2. Small dose pre-trial:
Given the reputation of ibogaine as a risky substance, I had started with a small dose pre-trial. 1/5 of my root bark sample (approximately 1g) was consumed. If the alkaloid content estimate is correct, this would correspond to 50mg of ibogaine, a very small dose.
The taste of the bark is very bitter and earthy, but it changes into sour numbness in the mouth over time (not necessarily unpleasant). Following descriptions of African rituals and recommendations from my vendor, I chewed the bark thoroughly before swallowing it without consuming any water, and waited for at least an hour before rinsing my mouth. The origin of this custom may lie with sublingual absorption of the drug, but, in any case, I think it's always better to honestly taste my plant matter without juices, sweeteners and other fool-myself masking tricks.
Even at this small dose, the effect was noticeable. I wasn't completely sure about attributing the shift in my mental state to the impact of the drug (Shulgin calls this +1, I think), but my later trial with a larger dose reproduced a very similar state much more vividly (and dramatically). There were no perceptual changes, but the mood would be best described as tranquil lucidity. At this small dose, it was quite pleasant and kind. The mental effect formed clearly approximately 2 hours after the ingestion, and lasted for a few hours subsiding gradually in waves.
I listened to Music from an Equatorial Microcosm: Fang Bwiti Music from Gabon with Mbiri Selections
(one of the few Bwiti music recordings available on CD) during the transition stage after my iboga ingestion (both in the small dose and regular dose trial).
3. Regular dose:
A week later, reassured by my positive response to the small dose, I consumed the rest of the bark (should be around 4g, or 2 flat table spoons). The ingestion was split into approximately 1/2 dose, followed 40 minutes later by approximately 1/4 dose, followed still 45 minutes later by the remainder. If the alkaloid content estimate is correct, the total dose consumed should have been approximately 200mg: a low-end dose of ibogaine-approximately 3mg/kg for me, within the dose range recommended by Naranjo. There is an entry for this dose in Shulgins' TiHKAL. But I did not have a sitter, nor did I aim for a mind shattering experience, this time at least.
3a) Body load:
There has not been any limb tremor. Nausea and some loss of coordination did manifest. It peaked around T+4:00, no such symptoms present with the small pre-trial dose. No cardiac/respiratory unrest was noticed so I would say that the trip went relatively smoothly in terms of direct body effects. I could sleep approximately 12 hours after the ingestion of iboga. Upon waking up (5-6 hours later) residual effects of the drug were still felt. There was a light hangover in the morning, but whether it was due to limited sleep and emotional exertion or due to somatic effects of the drug is difficult to judge.
3b) Perceptual distortions:
These have been noticeable and somewhat dysphoric. Nothing close to the paradis artificiels
of the classical psychedelics (psilocybin, mescaline, etc). The most prominent distortion was an intense flickering on the fringes of the visual field. At times, irregular 'fault lines' ('cracks') moving through the visual field were observed. If the direction of gaze was changed rapidly, sharp edges left discrete stroboscopic afterimages lasting for a second or so. These effects peaked around 6 hours after the ingestion, then gradually subsided. Amusingly, the visual distortions decreased when the direction of gaze was kept fixed; this is different for me from psilocybin and mescaline, which produce growing visual distortions over a static visual input.
Rather unremarkable but prominent auditory hallucinations were observed in the form of lasting high-pitched sounds. The sounds became noticeable approximately 2 hours after the start of ingestion. The lucid introspective mental state described below formed around the same time.
Perhaps the most interesting, if somewhat uncanny, aspect of the perceptual effects in this trip have been distortions in the body image. Senses of light-weightedness and heavy-weightedness alternated. Another characteristic sensation can only be described as 'falling inwards through my own body' if that makes any sense at all. There were also waves of perceived undulations and stretching-compression slowly going through the trunk. While seated, my feet could appear paradoxically close to my pelvis, or my neck could appear surprisingly long (if observed by means of proprioception). These effects peaked around the same time as the visual distortions (T+6:00).
3c) Cognitive changes:
The lucid state first noticed in the small dose pre-trial re-emerged clearly with the larger dose, perhaps around T+1:40 and then subsided very gradually over the next 24 hours (sic!). I found it quite excellent for reminiscence/introspection, and I believe to have accomplished a good deal of personality work within this period. Psychoanalytic aspects of iboga intoxication have been a primary interest for me, so there has certainly been an intention on my part, but I would like to emphasize that the remarkably clear lucidity of iboga trance has been most likely conductive of fulfilling these intentions. It is interesting that this quiet stillness in emotional matters co-existed with the bizarre and uncanny perceptual distortions described above. The wonders of the mind are many!
Personal insights are difficult to describe, or to attribute unambiguously to the effect of a drug, but, venturing into even more subjective territory, I would say that the focus of my contemplation has been more on ethical issues, primal fears (violence, illness, death), long-term life planning, etc. It was not sensuous at all, though strong emotions could emerge at times and then recede into lucidity and sadness. On a side note, I also describe the effect of LSA seeds on me as psychoanalytic, but with its strong grotesque erotic undercurrent, it couldn't be less similar to the wise clarity of iboga trance.
The contemplation continued through the next day gradually decreasing in intensity and leaving a sense of serene catharsis.
I would like to comment on the clarity of thought under the influence of iboga. Ibogaine is often described as psychedelic, but one must understand that it is radically different from the classical psychedelics (psilocybin, mescaline, etc). Naranjo groups it together with harmaline, though I cannot comment on that, because I have never tried B. caapi or Syrian rue alone in strong psychoactive doses. For example, the closed eye visuals under iboga seemed quite tame and figurative and went along with the flow of thoughts, whereas mescaline and psilocybin would produce a flurry of psychedelic imagery that completely overpowers and dissolves conventional patterns of thinking.
Overall, a most remarkable substance that can be instrumental in personal development if taken with suitable intentions. I did not experience any of the delicious fairy-tale-like flourishes so easily summoned by psilocybin or mescaline. I am not sure whether I would be willing to experiment with larger doses; probably not without a friendly sitter. Be that as it may, the plant deserves more attention and appreciation than it has received and a respectable place within the psychedelic pantheon: a dark, clear African jewel in a crown of sparkling and colorful Meso-American gems.
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