What Is Ibogaine? Uses In Addiction Treatment And Side Effects

Published on

Table of Contents

Ibogaine is a substance made from a plant called iboga that grows in western Africa. It has been used for a long time in a religion called Bwiti to help with healing. Nowadays, there is a lot of debate about whether ibogaine is helpful or harmful.

Ibogaine can cause a range of physical reactions, from feeling sick to hallucinations, and even affecting your heart. It’s essential to understand these effects before you take it, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not it’s right for you.

While some people believe that it can help treat addiction, using it is not without risks. In fact, it can cause seizures and even death in some cases. This is why it’s important to approach its use cautiously and seek professional guidance.

What Is Ibogaine?

Ibogaine is a very controversial substance nowadays, some folks suggest that it can be used to help people overcome addiction to powerful painkillers. But here’s the thing: the government agency in charge of regulating medicines in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), hasn’t given it the green light for this purpose.

In fact, the substance is considered so risky that it’s in the same category as drugs like heroin. Ibogaine is classified as a schedule I drug, which means it’s considered to have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

As part of a long-term study in Mexico, researchers examined 30 individuals who were seeking treatment for opiate substance abuse using ibogaine. The study aimed to investigate the changes in substance abuse over a period of 12 months. At the start of the treatment, the researchers recorded the frequency and dosage of opiate use and followed up with monthly surveys to monitor any changes.

In addition to this, the participants were asked to answer a survey with basic questions that covered various topics, such as:

  • Medical status.
  • Employment status.
  • Family history.
  • Psychiatric status.

According to the results:

  • Within the first month, 33% of the participants experienced a relapse.
  • Within the first two months, 60% of individuals experienced a relapse. 
  • Within the initial six months, 80% of individuals relapsed.
  • Only 20% of the patients could make it past six months without requiring any form of aftercare.
  • After a single treatment, four out of the 30 participants relapsed within a year.

Scientists have found that ibogaine is not a complete solution for addiction, as it only puts a temporary halt to it. It’s worth noting, however, that this conclusion was drawn from a relatively small sample of just 30 individuals, so its applicability to a more extensive population is uncertain.

What Is The Composition Of Ibogaine?

Ibogaine is a psychoactive alkaloid found in the root bark of the iboga plant, also known as Tabernanthe iboga. Its molecular composition is C20H26N2O, a complex structure with a fused indole ring. Ibogaine is classified as a tryptamine alkaloid.

The chemical structure of ibogaine is a polycyclic arrangement of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen atoms. This unique structure contributes to ibogaine’s psychoactive properties.

Although the chemical composition of ibogaine is known, its pharmacological actions and effects are still not fully understood. Ongoing research is being conducted to explore its potential therapeutic applications and associated risks.

What Are The Common Uses Of Ibogaine?

Ibogaine is a substance that has psychoactive effects and has been traditionally used in Central Africa for healing ceremonies and initiation rituals, particularly within the Bwiti religion. However, its use in modern times is controversial, and it’s important to note that ibogaine is not approved for medical use in many countries, including the United States.

Ibogaine has gained attention for its potential benefits in addiction treatment, especially for opioid addiction. According to some individuals and advocates, ibogaine may help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which can help individuals break free from addiction.

There are anecdotal reports that support the effectiveness of ibogaine, but more research is needed to fully understand its potential role in substance abuse treatment.

How Does Ibogaine Work For Addiction?

The use of ibogaine for addiction treatment is not supported by robust scientific evidence, and serious safety concerns still are on the map. A 2014 study in Brazil found that ibogaine treatment, when used alongside psychotherapy, was effective in treating addiction. However, the study only had 75 participants.

After reviewing various clinical trials and studies, researchers have concluded that although there is evidence to support the potential of ibogaine as a treatment for addiction, more controlled studies are needed to determine its safety and effectiveness. Further research is needed to determine ibogaine’s long-term effects on the body.

What Are The Common Side Effects Of Ibogaine?

Some reports suggest that taking ibogaine can cause your heart to slow down and, in extreme cases, may harm your nervous system. In some clinical studies, it was found that taking a high dose of ibogaine caused a rise in blood pressure and a decrease in pulse rate, which occurred within 1 to 5 hours after taking 10 to 25 mg/kg doses.

Studies have shown that ibogaine, when given in a single dose for detox purposes, is generally safe and well-tolerated. The most common side effects observed were problems with coordination, mild shaking, and feeling nauseous after taking the drug. Sometimes, low blood pressure was observed in patients with a history of cocaine use. This was likely due to a depletion of fluids in the body, which is a common consequence of cocaine abuse. But, replenishing fluids quickly resolved the low blood pressure in those cases.

Some cases report manic episodes lasting 1-2 weeks, including sleeplessness, irritability, impulsivity, emotional lability, grandiose delusions, rapid speech, aggressive behavior, and suicidal ideation.

It has been reported that ibogaine, which in this case was being used to treat addiction to substances like heroin, benzodiazepines, and alcohol, may lead to life-threatening adverse events within a few days of the first dose. In three cases, two of which showed the presence of opioids in the urine test, patients experienced symptoms like nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, unresponsiveness, QT prolongation, torsades de pointes, and respiratory insufficiency.

The use of ibogaine has been linked to fatalities. The risk of life-threatening complications, including sudden cardiac death, increases with concurrent opioid use and other conditions such as cardiovascular disease, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia, epilepsy, and other imbalances in the autonomic nervous system.

Can Ibogaine Be Used for Addiction Treatment?

The use of ibogaine as a treatment for addiction is a topic of intense debate and carries significant risks. Reported side effects include cardiovascular complications, difficulties with coordination, gastrointestinal problems, and even manic episodes lasting up to two weeks. These manic episodes may feature symptoms like suicidal ideation, making the use of ibogaine for addiction treatment a matter of serious concern.

Life-threatening adverse events, such as respiratory problems and cardiac complications, have been reported within days of the first dose in addiction treatment settings. Additionally, fatalities associated with the use of ibogaine underscore the heightened risk, particularly among individuals who use opioids concurrently and those with underlying health issues.

Due to the lack of regulatory approval and potential dangers, ibogaine is not a recommended or safe option for addiction treatment.

What is the Dosage of Ibogaine?

Based on animal studies, it has been suggested that an initial ibogaine dose of 0.87 mg/kg body weight may be more appropriate for treating drug dependence than the higher doses typically administered. However, several factors should be considered when determining the proper dosage, such as inter- and intra-species variability and specific population susceptibilities, to avoid any potential negative outcomes such as morbidity and mortality.

Based on limited animal data, an older source suggests that a maximum initial oral dosage limit of less than 1 mg/kg should be followed for the treatment of drug dependence while applying appropriate safety factors. This dosage may be increased incrementally through clinical trials that closely monitor human toxicity indices to establish a safe and effective dosage.

Clinical trials have utilized single oral doses of ibogaine ranging from 500 to 1,000 mg to treat opioid addiction. After ingestion, peak plasma levels of around 11 mcg/mL are achieved about 2 hours later. Over 90% of the dose is eliminated within 24 hours. It has been recommended to divide the dose and administer smaller amounts over several days or weeks to reduce risks.

Are there any Interactions and Contraindications of Ibogaine?

It’s crucial to keep in mind that ibogaine is a powerful psychoactive substance that can have serious health risks, especially when combined with certain medications or existing medical conditions. There are various interactions and contraindications associated with ibogaine use that must be taken into account. Here are some important factors to consider:


  • Paroxetine (Paxil): may increase the risk of side effects when taken with Iboga, which contains ibogaine. This is because Paroxetine can slow down the liver’s ability to break down ibogaine.
  • Drying medications (Anticholinergic drugs): If you are taking medications that block the effects of a chemical called acetylcholine in the body (known as anticholinergic drugs), taking Iboga may reduce its effectiveness. Iboga can increase the levels of acetylcholine in the body, which is involved in many important body functions. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with your doctor before taking Iboga, especially if you are taking anticholinergic drugs.
  • Various medications used for glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions (Cholinergic drugs): Iboga can increase the levels of a chemical in the body called acetylcholine. This may be problematic if you’re already taking medications that also increase acetylcholine levels, such as those used to treat glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions. Therefore, it’s crucial to speak with your doctor before taking iboga if you’re currently taking any medications.


  • Cardiovascular Issues: Individuals with a history of cardiovascular problems or conditions may be at increased risk of adverse cardiovascular effects when using ibogaine.
  • Psychiatric Disorders: People with psychiatric disorders, especially those prone to manic episodes, may experience exacerbation of symptoms or unpredictable reactions when exposed to ibogaine.
  • Liver Conditions: Ibogaine is metabolized by the liver, and individuals with pre-existing liver conditions may experience impaired metabolism, leading to increased toxicity.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and other imbalances in the autonomic nervous system, may be contraindications for ibogaine use due to the heightened risk of adverse effects.
  • Drug Interactions: Ibogaine can interact with a wide range of medications, including but not limited to antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and opioids.

Find Your Inner Light at Quest2Recovery

If you are seeking addiction treatment, it’s crucial to choose a reliable and evidence-based provider like Quest2Recovery. We can offer professional support and guide you through the process. It’s important to keep in mind that ibogaine treatment requires caution and should only be considered after careful evaluation of the evidence-backed approaches to ensure your safety and well-being.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it’s vital to seek help from professionals who can provide the support and guidance needed to achieve lasting recovery. Quest2Recovery is committed to empowering individuals to find their inner strength, fostering lasting recovery, and enhancing overall well-being. Seeking assistance and support is crucial for sustainable healing and positive transformation.

Share Our Blog With Someone It Might Help!


Getting help doesn't have to be scary, we are here for you.

When you are ready to rid your body of the toxic substances, contact us. We can make it easier and safer for you.