Ibogaine is used in many religious and therapeutic ceremonies of the Bwiti people of Africa, and it may be a useful tool in kicking heroin. The drug is a hallucinogen made from the root bark of a central African shrub. It’s been used for centuries as a rite of passage. Since the 1960s it has occasionally been used to treat a number of different addictions.

What Happens During an Ibogaine Ceremony?

Ibogaine ceremonies have been an important part of Bwiti culture for thousands of years. It generally has five distinct parts.

  1. Introduction to the Forest/Tree ceremony: The forest and all life and spirits in it are respected and thanked
  2. Bath Preparation/Bucket Ceremony: Healing plants are prepared for a forest bath, with prayer and offerings.
  3. Spiritual baths: Repeated at intervals, the body and spirit is cleansed with the spirit of the forest, negative energy is washed away
  4. Ibogaine Flood Dose Ceremony: A large dose of Ibogaine is taken. The experience varies from person to person, and can include visualisations.
  5. Reporting Ceremony: The experience is discussed and reflected upon

What is an Ibogaine Trip Like?

Everyone’s experience is different – some have vivid visual hallucinations of aliens or otherworldly beings, some find themselves surrounded by family and loved ones. There’s no real ‘work’ that the tripper needs to do, they just sit back and enjoy. It’s been described as eye-opening, enlightening. It’s definitely different to the trips caused by chemically manufactured drugs.

How does Ibogaine Cure Addictions

Many people with addictions, from smoking to sex to heroin have been almost miraculously cured by Ibogaine. There are two different factors.

  1. Ibogaine does physically reduce cravings. The shakes, sweats, etc. that the body goes through when deprived of a substance it’s addicted to are less. For this reason, either multiple low doses or one high dose are effective.
  2. The trip can be eye-opening or enlightening. After an Ibogaine ceremony, people can find themselves having a new outlook on life, suddenly their addiction seems less important.

Of course there are no real ‘miracle cures’ for any addiction. For someone to get over an addiction they have to be ready and willing, but researchers are looking into the use of Ibogaine to treat addictions, and the results are looking promising.

Ibogaine is still a controlled substance in the US. Because of its hallucinogenic qualities, law-makers are worried it will be abused. While there is not necessarily a lot of hope for legalisation in the US any time soon, it’s unregulated in both Mexico and Canada.