Treating drug dependence with the aid of ibogaine: a retrospective study

Ibogaine is an alkaloid purported to be an effective drug dependence treatment. However, its efficacy has been hard to evaluate, partly because it is illegal in some countries. In such places, treatments are conducted in underground settings where fatalities have occurred. In Brazil ibogaine is unregulated and a combined approach of psychotherapy and ibogaine is being practiced to treat addiction. To evaluate the safety and efficacy of ibogaine, we conducted a retrospective analysis of data from 75 previous alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and crack users (72% poly-drug users). We observed no serious adverse reactions or fatalities, and found 61% of participants abstinent. Participants treated with ibogaine only once reported abstinence for a median of 5.5 months and those treated multiple times for a median of 8.4 months. This increase was statistically significant (p < 0.001), and both single or multiple treatments led to longer abstinence periods than before the first ibogaine session (p < 0.001). These results suggest that the use of ibogaine supervised by a physician and accompanied by psychotherapy can facilitate prolonged periods of abstinence, without the occurrence of fatalities or complications. These results suggest that ibogaine can be a safe and effective treatment for dependence on stimulant and other non-opiate drugs

A systematic literature review of clinical trials and therapeutic applications of ibogaine

Background: Iboga and its primary alkaloids, ibogaine and noribogaine, have been of interest to researchers and practitioners, mainly due to their putative efficacy in treating substance use disorders (SUDs). For many SUDs, still no effective pharmacotherapies exist. Distinct psychoactive and somatic effects of the iboga alkaloids set them apart from classic hallucinogens like LSD, mescaline, and psilocybin. Aims: The study team performed this systematic review focusing on clinical data and therapeutic interventions involving ibogaine and noribogaine. Methods: The team conducted a search for all publications up to December 7, 2020, using PubMed and Embase following PRISMA guidelines. Results: In total, we identified 743 records. In this review, we consider 24 studies, which included 705 individuals receiving ibogaine or noribogaine. This review includes two randomized, double-blind, controlled clinical trials, one double-blind controlled clinical trial, 17 open-label studies or case series (including observational or retrospective studies), three case reports, and one retrospective survey. The published data suggest that ibogaine is an effective therapeutic intervention within the context of SUDs, reducing withdrawal symptoms and craving. Data also point toward a beneficial impact on depressive and trauma-related psychological symptoms. However, studies have reported severe medical complications and deaths, which seem to be associated with neuro- and cardiotoxic effects of ibogaine. Two of these fatalities were described in the 24 studies included in this review. Conclusion: Treatment of SUDs and persisting comorbidities requires innovative treatment approaches. Rapid-onset therapies such as the application of ibogaine may offer novel treatment opportunities for specific individuals. Rigorous study designs within medical settings are necessary to warrant safe application, monitoring, and, possibly, medical intervention.

Ibogaine: complex pharmacokinetics, concerns for safety, and preliminary efficacy measures

Ibogaine is an indole alkaloid found in the roots of Tabernanthe Iboga (Apocynaceae family), a rain forest shrub that is native to western Africa. Ibogaine is used by indigenous peoples in low doses to combat fatigue, hunger and thirst, and in higher doses as a sacrament in religious rituals. Members of American and European addict self-help groups have claimed that ibogaine promotes long-term drug abstinence from addictive substances, including psychostimulants and opiates. Anecdotal reports attest that a single dose of ibogaine eliminates opiate withdrawal symptoms and reduces drug craving for extended periods of time. The purported efficacy of ibogaine for the treatment of drug dependence may be due in part to an active metabolite. The majority of ibogaine biotransformation proceeds via CYP2D6, including the O-demethylation of ibogaine to 12-hydroxyibogamine (noribogaine). Blood concentration-time effect profiles of ibogaine and noribogaine obtained for individual subjects after single oral dose administrations demonstrate complex pharmacokinetic profiles. Ibogaine has shown preliminary efficacy for opiate detoxification and for short-term stabilization of drug-dependent persons as they prepare to enter substance abuse treatment. We report here that ibogaine significantly decreased craving for cocaine and heroin during inpatient detoxification. Self-reports of depressive symptoms were also significantly lower after ibogaine treatment and at 30 days after program discharge. Because ibogaine is cleared rapidly from the blood, the beneficial aftereffects of the drug on craving and depressed mood may be related to the effects of noribogaine on the central nervous system.

The Anti-Addiction Drug Ibogaine and the Heart: A Delicate Relation

The plant indole alkaloid ibogaine has shown promising anti-addictive properties in animal studies. Ibogaine is also anti-addictive in humans as the drug alleviates drug craving and impedes relapse of drug use. Although not licensed as therapeutic drug and despite safety concerns, ibogaine is currently used as an anti-addiction medication in alternative medicine in dozens of clinics worldwide. In recent years, alarming reports of life-threatening complications and sudden death cases, temporally associated with the administration of ibogaine, have been accumulating. These adverse reactions were hypothesised to be associated with ibogaine’s propensity to induce cardiac arrhythmias. The aim of this review is to recapitulate the current knowledge about ibogaine’s effects on the heart and the cardiovascular system, and to assess the cardiac risks associated with the use of this drug in anti- addiction therapy. The actions of 18-methoxycoronaridine (18-MC), a less toxic ibogaine congener with anti-addictive properties, are also considered.

The ibogaine medical subculture

Aim of the study: Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive indole alkaloid that is used to treat substance-related disorders in a global medical subculture, and is of interest as an ethnopharmacological prototype for experimental investigation and possible rational pharmaceutical development. The subculture is also significant for risks due to the lack of clinical and pharmaceutical standards. This study describes the ibogaine medical subculture and presents quantitative data regarding treatment and the purpose for which individuals have taken ibogaine. Materials and methods: All identified ibogaine “scenes” (defined as a provider in an associated setting) apart from the Bwiti religion in Africa were studied with intensive interviewing, review of the grey literature including the Internet, and the systematic collection of quantitative data. Results: Analysis of ethnographic data yielded a typology of ibogaine scenes, “medical model”, “lay provider/treatment guide”, “activist/self-help”, and “religious/spiritual”. An estimated 3414 individuals had taken ibogaine as of February 2006, a fourfold increase relative to 5 years earlier, with 68% of the total having taken it for the treatment of a substance-related disorder, and 53% specifically for opioid withdrawal. Conclusions: Opioid withdrawal is the most common reason for which individuals took ibogaine. The focus on opioid withdrawal in the ibogaine subculture distinguishes ibogaine from other agents commonly termed “psychedelics”, and is consistent with experimental research and case series evidence indicating a significant pharmacologically mediated effect of ibogaine in opioid withdrawal.