What is Iboga?
Tabernanthe iboga is a small shrub that grows wild in Africa in Cameroon, Gabon, and Democratic Republic of Congo. The root of the plant is consumed by practitioners of Bwiti, a spiritual practice founded in West Africa. Iboga contains psychedelic properties and can cause induce long lasting visionary states when consumed in large doses. In small doses it acts as a stimulant. The consumption of this medicine is used as a rite of passage ceremony into adulthood and for spiritual connection and guidance.
Iboga contains psychedelic properties and in sufficient quantity the user experiences a long lasting visionary state. These visions can be open or closed eye and are often reported as introspective.
Tabernanthe Iboga is related to the coffee plant and grows best in partially shaded areas with well-drained soil. The shrub produces deep narrow green leaves, clusters of tiny white to yellow flowers and produces small yellow to orange fruit about the size of a grape. The psychoactive properties are active alkaloids that are found in the roots of the iboga plant. The plant takes 7 years to reach maturity and to contain enough alkaloids for the roots to be viable for therapeutic use. The first layer of bark is removed and discarded; the second layer is scraped and powdered for consumption.
In West Africa, iboga has been used by sects of Bwiti in Gabon and Cameroon for centuries. Bwiti practitioners were taught to use this medicine by the pygmies during the ‘great migration’ to the jungle. These people respect this sacred plant medicine as a ‘teacher’ and spirit. It is used by the peoples of these cultures in a rite of passage initiation ceremonies, for ancestral communication, spiritual connection and healing . Iboga is the sacrament of the Bwiti tradition. In small does, acting as a stimulant, it is taken during participation in initiation ceremonies. It stimulates the nervous system and aids in staying alert and connected during these night long ceremonies. Large doses are given during initiation to induce deep visionary journeys which are said to lead to psychological healing and recovery as well as well as connecting each individual to their own Bwiti, or higher self.
IBOGA IN GABON
Iboga has been used for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. It is a powerful, activating plant “teacher” and spirit. Its origins lie with the forest Pygmy people of central west Africa, particularly Gabon and Cameroon. It is the key sacrament of the Bwiti spiritual tradition.
Iboga is the Bwiti initiation tool. It comes from the scraping of the second layer of root bark of the shrub-like tree, usually pounded into a fine powder for consumption.
IBOGA IN THE WEST
Use of iboga, or the single derived alkaloid ibogaine, has been growing in popularity in the west because of its abilities in treating addictions, depression, anxiety, PTSD and many other problematic behaviors. Ibogaine’s ability in severely reducing/eliminating withdrawal from opiates wasn’t reportedly discovered until Howard Lotsoft, then a heroin addict, ingested the drug looking for a recreational high when he realized he wasn’t experiencing any withdrawal. Since then, little scientific research has been done on these effects due to ibogaine’s status as a scheduled controlled substance in the United States. However, ibogaine is legal in most countries and many offer ibogaine treatment programs for drug detox and spiritual growth.
IBOGA AND IBOGAINE
Indole alkaloids typically make up 6% of the scrapings of the root bark. The more time the plant grows the more alkaloids it contains. It takes an average of seven years to reach maturity and contain enough alkaloids for theraputic use. Ibogaine, ibogamine, ibogaline and tabernanthine are four key alkaloids present, with most of the pharmacological knowledge about ibogaine. Also found in iboga are coronaridine, voacangine, isovoacangine, and conophararyngine, which have unknown qualities.