Ibogaine refers to an alkaloid extracted from the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub native to West Africa, specifically Gabon. It has long been used for ceremonial healing rituals and initiation rites among the Bwiti tribe. Ibogaine has a unique pharmacological mechanism that promotes the interruption of withdrawal symptoms across a variety of addictive substances, most notably opiates, but also amphetamines, and alcohol. Its anti-addictive properties have made this compound highly effective for treating addiction since the 1970's. More recently, studies have shown that Ibogaine may have significant therapeutic benefits for treating head trauma, combat or blast exposure resulting in traumatic brain injuries,
Ibogaine & TBI
Preliminary research has indicated that ibogaine could play a role in enhancing neuroplasticity and contribute to neuronal growth. There is evidence that ibogaine can be used as a neuroprotective agent to help reduce or prevent brain damage from blasts and explosions as well. Ibogaine increases the amount of Glial Cell Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF), Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) in parts of the dopaminergic system of the brain. Release of GDNF promotes the survival and differentiation of different dopamine neurons and has been associated with the anti-addictive properties of ibogaine. BDNF supports the survival of cells and promotes growth and differentiation of new neurons, and dysregulation of NGF has been related to neurodegenerative diseases. The increase of these neurotrophic factors by ibogaine have the potential to heal brain injury at theneuronal level.
To gather more evidence about ibogaine as a potential PTSD and TBI treatment option, VETS is supporting Stanford University researcher Dr. Nolan Williams’ observational and brain imaging study of the safety of ibogaine-assisted therapy in veterans with head trauma, combat, or blast exposure. In addition to psychological and cognitive testing of 30 veterans receiving ibogaine treatment in countries where the treatment is available, study participants will also receive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to explore possible brain changes associated with its use.
Read about the Stanford University neuroimaging study here.
Ibogaine and Addiction
Researchers around the world continue to explore ibogaine’s potential medical uses — in particular, its use as a treatment for addiction and neuropsychiatric conditions. Thousands of studies have investigated the different properties of ibogaine, its potential uses, and its effectiveness. Currently, Brazil, South Africa, and New Zealand classify ibogaine as a pharmaceutical substance that licensed medical professionals can use.
Some researchTrusted Source suggests that ibogaine somehow changes addiction-related or promoting pathways between nerve cells in the brain. It may also affect signaling in brain regions that play a role in the behavioral effects of drugs that are addictive.
In a 2014 study in Brazil, researchers recruited 75 participants who previously used cannabis, cocaine, crack cocaine, or alcohol. The participants who received one ibogaine treatment reported abstaining from drug use for a median of 5.5 months. Those who received multiple ibogaine treatments abstained for a median of 8.4 months.
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) also helped fund two observational studies in 2017 that supported the use of ibogaine as a treatment for addiction to drugs.
In the first of these studies, which took place in Mexico, ibogaine use improved symptoms of opioid withdrawal and reduced subsequent drug use in people who had found other treatment options ineffective.
In the other study, researchers in New Zealand concluded that a single treatment with ibogaine reduced symptoms of opioid withdrawal in people dependent on opioids over 12 months. It also helped people stop taking opioids or maintain a reduced use.
Noller GE, Frampton CM, Yazar-Klosinski B. Ibogaine treatment outcomes for opioid dependence from a twelve-month follow-up observational study. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2018;44(1):37-46. doi: 10.1080/00952990.2017.1310218. Epub 2017 Apr 12. PMID: 28402682.
Thomas Kingsley Brown & Kenneth Alper (2018) Treatment of opioid use disorder with ibogaine: detoxification and drug use outcomes, The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 44:1, 24-36, DOI: 10.1080/00952990.2017.1320802
Geoffrey E. Noller , Chris M. Frampton & Berra Yazar-Klosinski (2018) Ibogaine treatment outcomes for opioid dependence from a twelve-month follow-up observational study, The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 44:1, 37-46, DOI: 10.1080/00952990.2017.1310218
Ibogaine carries a risk of cardiotoxicity, therefore it is not considered as safe as classic psychedelics such as psilocybin. When used in a clinical setting with the appropriate precautions, however, the potential cardiac risks of Ibogaine are significantly attenuated. Data soon to be published from a recent Stanford study with combat veterans substantiates the astonishing healing potential for this compound to treat a variety of conditions including from TBI, anxiety, depression and PTSD.