Using Ibogaine to Treat Anxiety and Depression

Restlessness. Difficulty sleeping. Panic. Hopelessness. Anyone who’s ever suffered from anxiety or depression knows just how overwhelming these symptoms can be.

Ibogaine can help, allowing people to live healthier, happier lives. The naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in the West African Iboga plant has become a popular therapeutic tool for addiction to opiates, cocaine, methamphetamine, and alcohol. However it’s also shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

A study published in the September 2000 issue of Neurobiological Mechanisms of Drugs of Abuse found that there are neurobiological similarities between depression and drug dependence — insomuch as many drug addicts self-medicate to treat co-occurring mental health issues. In the 2000 study, participants reported that a single-dose of Ibogaine not only helped reduce cravings for drugs, but also significantly improved depressive symptoms.

History.

The use of Ibogaine as a therapeutic tool is nothing new. For centuries, people in Gabon and Cameroon have used ground iboga as part of Bwiti, a set of socio-spiritual practices. During these rites of passage rituals, Iboga is used as a treatment for conditions we’d describe as mental illness, such as anxiety and depression.

Ibogaine was first introduced to the West through French and Belgian explorers who visited West Africa in the mid-19th century. By the 1930’s, Ibogaine was being sold as a stimulant in France under the brand name Lambarène, after it was shown that low doses of the substance provided an energy boost. It wasn’t until 1966 that Lambarène was declared illegal in France and removed from shelves.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s therapists began exploring the possibility of using Ibogaine as an antidepressant. Around the same time, Ibogaine’s anti-addictive effects were also discovered. By the early 1960’s scientists have since turned their research efforts towards studying Ibogaine as a potential treatment for opioid addiction.

Since the 1990’s, Ibogaine has become increasingly popular as a tool for personal and spiritual development, with shamanic retreats popping up all over the world. However, for individuals looking to treat anxiety, depression or addiction, the safest and most effective way to experience Ibogaine is through a medically supervised treatment center.

How Ibogaine works.

Similar to traditional prescriptive therapies, Ibogaine has been shown to biochemically control and restore balance to neurotransmitters. By targeting trauma and promoting healing in the brain, patients suffering from anxiety and depression have found significant relief through Ibogaine treatment.

According to doctor C.M. Anderson of Harvard Medical school, “Ibogaine works through multiple neurotransmitter systems to create… (a) state of plasticity similar to states of plasticity existing during fetal development.” Essentially, it can help treat traumatic memories, reverse abnormal brain functions and dissolve habitual motor patterns associated with addiction and other disorders.

After taking Ibogaine, the patient enters into a psychedelic state which can last from 8 to 12 hours. As author Peter Frank outlines in his book, Ibogaine Explained, psychedelics like Ibogaine have the power to temporarily shatter the ego, giving the individual an increased perspective on their problems and the world around them. While in this egoless state, past traumas rise to the surface, allowing people to gain insight and confront old demons head-on.

While the process of confronting unsettling parts of your subconscious can be a painful and emotionally turbulent one, Ibogaine helps patients reframe difficult past experiences in a more objective manner; allowing them to resolve lingering emotional conflict.   

Precautions. 

While these results are encouraging, Ibogaine treatment is not without risks. When Ibogaine is administered, it metabolizes in the body as Noribogaine, a type of serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Therefore, Ibogaine cannot be used in conjunction with traditional medications commonly prescribed for anxiety and depression like Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor-based drugs, as they can cause potentially fatal interactions. 

Included in this list are the following: 

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Clomipramine
  • Desipramine
  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta, Ariclaim, Xeristar, Yentreve, Duzela, Dulane)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Imipramine (Tofranil)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor)

Along with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor-based drugs, Ibogaine can also have lethal interactions with other substances including a variety of antipsychotics, painkillers, antiarrhythmic drugs and other over-the-counter medications such as Prilosec (Omeprazole), some gastric disorder drugs, antifungal medications, HIV treatment drugs, and some antihistamines.

Careful screening is key when it comes to minimizing risks associated with Ibogaine, as it’s not recommended for individuals with a pre-existing heart condition. Therefore, it’s crucial that treatment only be administered by a facility that offers a high degree of medical supervision and adheres to the guidelines set forth by The Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance. With attentive medical supervision and support, Ibogaine can provide a ray of light to individuals suffering from anxiety and depression.