What is ibogaine treatment?
Ibogaine is a psychedelic substance found in iboga, a Western African shrub. Historically it has been used in healing ceremonies and initiation rituals in the Bwiti religion in West Africa.
Today, some people claim it can be used as a treatment for opiate addiction. It hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for any addictive disorder and it is classified as a schedule I drug in the United States. Schedule I drugs are substances with a high potential for abuse.
Keep reading to learn more about the use of ibogaine treatment for addiction.
Ibogaine acts as a mild stimulant in small doses. In large doses, it can put a person into a severe psychedelic state. Some people have found that large doses reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms and help with substance-related cravings.
People with substance use addictions have found that large doses of it can reduce withdrawal from opiates and help rid them of their substance-related cravings. In many cases, however, the effects are short-lived. The safety of this treatment is also in question. Most studies have been in animals. In humans, there have been serious side effects, including unexplained deaths that may be linked to the treatment.
In a long-term study in Mexico, investigators researched substance abuse changes in 30 people seeking ibogaine-based addiction treatment for opiate substance abuse. The researchers measured frequency and dosage of opiate use at the beginning of treatment and at monthly follow-ups for 12 months. They also conducted a survey that asked basic questions on topics such as:
- medical status
- employment status
- family history
- psychiatric status
According to the results:
- one third of the participants relapsed within the first month
- 60 percent relapsed within the first two months
- 80 percent relapsed within the first six months
- 20 percent made it more than six months without any aftercare
- four out of the 30 participants did not relapse for more than a year following a single treatment
Researchers determined that ibogaine is not a cure for addiction. Instead, it merely interrupts addition. It is important to note the sample size was only 30 people and therefore may not apply to a greater population.
A 2014 studyTrusted Source in Brazil found ibogaine treatment to be effective in treating addiction when used alongside psychotherapy. The study was also small, with only 75 participants.
In a review of clinical trials and studies, researchers noted that, while studies have supported the claims that ibogaine can help treat addiction, there needs to be more and better controlled studies to determine the safety and efficacy of this treatment.
Not many long-term studies have been conducted on ibogaine and further research is needed for definitive proof on how it helps or hurts the body.