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IbOGa ReTreAt Vs PsIloCyBin ReTreAt: A CoMpariSon


Iboga and psilocybin are distinct substances, each with their own characteristics and effects, and are applied for different purposes. While psilocybin is mainly used for emotional healing and inner exploration, Iboga has gained attention as a promising treatment for addiction. 

In most parts of the world, Ibogaine is unscheduled, with the exception of the US, Belgium, Denmark, France, Sweden, Switzerland, and Australia where it is illegal. In Costa Rica, Mexico, New Zealand and the Netherlands it’s possible to find clinics that offer treatments with Ibogaine.

There is no database that tracks the exact number of organizations offering ibogaine therapy, but there are estimates that around 150 ibogaine providers are operating worldwide. According to the Guardian only 10 of these are correctly certified as accredited medical clinics.

In this article, we will explore the historical and cultural significance of Iboga, and its potential as a tool for recovery from addiction, and for personal growth. We will also discuss the importance of responsible and ethical use, and the risks associated with Iboga. 

Ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic substance. This is why it’s essential to inform yourself well and to consult multiple sources of information. Please keep in mind that we do not recommend seeking a Ibogaine induced experience to anyone. 

What is Iboga?

The Iboga plant, scientifically known as Tabernanthe iboga, grows in the rainforests of West Africa, particularly Gabon, Cameroon, and the Congo Basin. The ritual ingestion of iboga has been a psychopharmacological sacrament for the Fang, Mitsogo and Punu people, as part of the Bwiti religion for several centuries. It was likely practiced among Pygmies in much earlier times. To this day, Iboga is revered as a sacred plant, which is used in spiritual practices, rites of passage, and medicinal rituals.

Iboga contains a potent psychoactive compound called Ibogaine. This naturally occurring alkaloid has profound effects on the mind, spirit, and body. In recent years, Iboga has gained attention as a promising treatment for addiction, particularly to substances like opioids, cocaine, and alcohol. It has shown potential in resetting the brain’s chemistry, reducing cravings, and providing people with a fresh start on their journey to recovery.

The negative aspect of Iboga’s rising popularity that we feel we need to bring to your attention, is that it leads to poaching, which is depleting natural reserves of Iboga in Gabon’s forests while cutting Gabonese people out of an industry that would not exist without their Indigenous knowledge.

What are the effects of Ibogaine?

When consumed in small doses, the Iboga root bark acts as a stimulant. It can be brewed into palm wine or chewed against hunger and fatigue. When consumed in larger doses, ibogaine has powerful psychoactive effects. 

These effects are profound and have the potential to induce significant changes in one’s perception, emotions, and physical sensations. An experience with Iboga can be quite intense. It often involves purging, deep emotional releases, and vivid visions. This is why adequate preparation, integration, and aftercare are essential for a beneficial outcome of an Iboga retreat. 

The effects of Iboga can vary between individuals, and factors such as dosage, set and setting, and personal disposition can influence the experience. Iboga can induce vivid dream-like sequences, manifesting as a journey through various landscapes and scenarios. It can distort your perception of time, making minutes feel like hours or vice versa. One may encounter symbolic imagery, ancestral spirits, or gain insights into personal issues or challenges. 

Some people have reported fatigue, lasting for a few weeks and causing them to sleep ten to fourteen hours a day. It’s said that Iboga brings you back into your natural state. Iif you have exhausted your body for an extended period of time, it may first have to recover through intensive sleep.

Others have reported a powerful, grounding energy. Iboga is seen as the root of the earth, which can help people return to their origin. It can induce quick decision making and ease in getting things done, in combination with peace of mind, clarity and awareness.

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What happens on an Iboga retreat?

The ritual aim around iboga has been described as “binding”; the binding across time through ancestral contact, or binding participants socially on the basis of a common shared experience. 

Bwiti practitioners believe that Iboga facilitates a connection with ancestral spirits and the spiritual realm. During the ceremony, participants seek guidance, wisdom, and healing from their ancestors. This communion is seen as a way to access ancestral knowledge, receive blessings, and gain insights into one’s life path.

Before an Iboga ceremony, participants will enter a period of ritual preparation that can last several days. This preparation involves specific dietary restrictions, abstinence from certain substances and acts, and purification rituals, such as bathing or sweating ceremonies. The aim is to cleanse the body and mind, creating an optimal receptive state for the Iboga experience. 

Iboga ceremonies in the Bwiti tradition are typically led by experienced shamans known as ‘ngangas’ or ‘bokas’ who serve as guides and facilitators throughout the ceremony. Ceremonies often involve chanting, drumming, and dancing. 

Ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic substance. If you are considering participating in an Iboga ceremony, it is essential to seek guidance from experienced practitioners, and ensure a safe and supportive environment that honors the cultural traditions and practices. This is why it’s essential to inform yourself well and to consult multiple sources of information. Please keep in mind that we do not recommend seeking a Ibogaine induced experience to anyone. 

Are there any safety concerns?

The use of ibogaine is not without risk. Especially people with heart conditions need to approach it with extreme caution. Ibogaine can strain the kidneys and liver, but fatalities are almost always attributed to its effect on the heart. Observational studies have concluded that since ibogaine is a stimulant, it can speed heart rate enough to cause cardiac arrest. That risk is amplified by ibogaine clinics operating largely without regulation and the standards of medical care – such as monitoring heart rate and testing patients for drugs that might interact dangerously with ibogaine. The article by Koenig & Hilber, 2015 elaborates on the delicate relation between Ibogaine and the Heart.

People with a history of mental health conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or severe anxiety should approach Ibogaine with extra caution. Ibogaine can potentially exacerbate these conditions or trigger adverse reactions. Pre-screening and proper assessment by experienced professionals are important to ensure the safety of people with mental health vulnerabilities. Always share any questions and concerns you may have. 

Scientific research

Using ibogaine as a treatment for substance use disorder has become a primary focus of research, but its legal status and potential health risks have made it difficult for researchers to study its effect on humans.

Ibogaine is a tryptamine. Its action is complex, affecting several different neurotransmitters at the same time. It appears to possess important affinities for N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), kappa-opioid, sigma, and nicotine receptors. Ibogaine’s action at the kappa-opioid receptor is likely to contribute to its psychoactive effects.

It is thought that the weak agonistic action of ibogaine on the serotonin 5HT2A receptor may contribute to its hallucinogenic effects. Dopamine levels are not only lowered by ibogaine, but its breakdown is also enhanced. Ibogaine may work in reversing the effects of opiates on gene expression, resulting in impacts on neuroreceptors, returning them to a pre-addiction condition. Furthermore, addictive loops and pathways in the brain are reversed.

The field of psychedelic research is rapidly evolving. To stay up to date with the latest research, it is advisable to consult scientific databases or reach out to reputable research institutions and organizations involved in psychedelic research.

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