Tabernanthe iboga is a leafy evergreen that grows to a height of 4-8 feet (1-3 m) in the undergrowth of the tropical forests of West Central Africa. It has large leaves (about 6 inches long) and clusters of white flowers. T. iboga contains the powerful psychoactive alkaloid ibogaine, which is found in the leaves and roots, and is especially dense in the root core. The plant has been used since at least the nineteenth century, and possibly earlier, in religious ceremonies. Iboga has received attention since the 1960s in Europe, North America, and Mexico as an anti-addiction therapy.
Traditionally in Africa, parts of the root of the still-living iboga plant have been harvested and ground into a powder, which is usually eaten, or made into a tea (uncommon). In Bwiti religious ceremonies, varying amounts of root powder may be ingested over the course of several days, ranging from a teaspoon to (in extreme cases) upwards of several pounds over the entire period (dangerous - fatalities have been reported). Note: Care must be taken in distinguishing iboga power, which may be around 1% psychoactive alkaloids, from pure ibogaine.
Iboga is illegal in the US and is not commonly available on the black market. It is sometimes available from ethnobotanical vendors in countries where it is legal.
Tabernanthe iboga and ibogaine are both Schedule I controlled substances in the United States, making them illegal to buy, sell, or possess. Ibogaine is illegal in France. It appears to be legal or unregulated in Canada, Mexico, and some European countries.
The principle active chemical in Iboga is ibogaine, or 12-methoxyibogamine (C20H26N2O), an indole alkaloid. Iboga contains other active alkaloids including ibogamine, coronaridine, and tabernanthine.
Ibogaine is slowly metabolized by the liver into noribogaine and other metabolites, some of which may be psychoactive. Ibogaine acts on numerous receptor systems, including the dopaminergic, serotonergic, nicotinic, GABA, and muscarinic systems. Some studies have produced limited evidence that ibogaine may pharmacologically interrupt the mechanisms of opiate dependence. Iboga also contains other psychoactive alkaloids which have received little, if any, study.
Iboga is sometimes cultivated in West Africa for religious use.
The first-known documentation of iboga use was in 1864 in Gabon. The Gabonese Fang people say that Iboga use was originally discovered by the Pygmies. In the late 19th Century the Bwiti church was founded, using iboga in initiation rites. Bwiti was driven underground by French colonial forces from the 1930s until the late 1950s. Now upwards of 20% of the Gabonese population is Bwitist.
Terminology / Slang #
Tabernanthe iboga; iboga; eboga or eboka (Fang); The Wood (Gabon).
Breaking open of heads (Bwiti).
When taken in an entheogenic dose range, ibogaine often causes extreme nausea and vomiting which may be followed by numbness of skin, mild auditory and dreamlike visual hallucinations lasting for 3-4 hours. This is frequently followed by an intense autobiographical inventory of the events and signficance of one's life, lasting from 8-20 hours. Lingering physical effects such as difficulty sleeping may persist for an additional day or two.
When taken orally, the effects of iboga typically begin within 45 minutes to three hours.
The most intense effects of iboga may last 24 hours or more, during which time a user may be immobilized. After-effects may last an additional day or two.
Visual Effects #
Visuals Summary Needed.
Several deaths have resulted directly from T. iboga use. Users frequently experience extreme nausea. Depending on dose, users may be incapacitated and/or immobilized for many hours. High doses of ibogaine (beginning at 75-100 mg/kg) have been shown to have neurotoxic effects in rats and non-human primates, although therapeutic doses may not be neurotoxic.
- Individuals with a history of heart ailments, high blood pressure, aneurysm or stroke, glaucoma, hepatic (liver) or renal (kidney) disorders, or hypoglycemia may be at higher risk.
- Do not operate heavy machinery. Do not drive.
- Due to its strong effects, Ibogaine should generally not be taken without a sober sitter present.
- Individuals should consider carefully before taking Ibogaine in situations where they are solely responsible for themself or anyone else.
- Individuals in the midst of emotional or psychological upheaval, or with a history of psychological illness, should use extreme caution in taking ibogaine or any other powerful psychedelic.
Addiction Potential #
Ibogaine is neither physically addicting nor likely to cause psychological dependence. Withdrawal effects following discontinuation have not been reported.
Long Term Health Problems #
Long Term Health Problems Summary Needed.
Risk of Death #
There are several known fatalities due to ibogaine use. Some deaths have occurred in clinical or quasi-clinical environments. Traditional iboga use is reported by some West Africans to be occassionally fatal, and there is at least one documented case of a fatality following ingestion of an unknown quantity of iboga root bark.
CAUTION & DISCLAIMER #
Erowid Basics pages are summaries of data gathered from site visitors, government documents, books, websites, and other resources. We do our best to keep this information correct and up-to-date, but the field is complex and constantly changing. Information should always be verified through multiple sources.