The plant is Tabernanthe iboga, originating in Africa, and the psycho-active medicinal component of the plant is, unusually, the root bark! Used in West Africa, Gabon and the Cameroon, as a sacrament in the Bwiti religion for centuries, it is only in the last 50 years that its usefulness as a medicine in the context of modern civilisation, has become apparent.
From 1939 to 1970 it was used in France, in very small doses – eight to ten milligrams of the most active alkaloid – known as Ibogaine hydrochloride – per tablet – listed for use in ‘asthenia’, and recommended for indications that included fatigue, depression, and recovery from infectious disease.
It was not till the early 1960s, as the legend goes, that a New York heroin addict named Howard Lotsof tried a larger dose of an extract of the root bark in his psychedelic experimentation with different substances. The journey was great, but what was even greater was the after -effect – the next day he noticed he had no craving for opiates. He waited for the withdrawal symptoms, but they never came. Then he tried it on some of his friends, and the same beneficial effect was noted. Thus was born the legend of Ibogaine or Iboga as an incredibly effective and painless detox off opiates.
Howard Lotsof passed on to the next world in early 2010, but not before being honoured at the first International Conference for Ibogaine providers, held in Sayulita, Mexico. With his Israeli colleague, and Ibo provider, Boaz Wachtel, he has spent many years developing his knowledge of the use of this medicine, and the record of these explorations is now available in the Ibogaine Dossiers – a great resource for those interested in taking the medicine or becoming providers themselves.
In many countries in the world the medicine is illegal, following the example of the USA, where it is listed as Schedule 1, a category of medicine decided to have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment and a lack of accepted safety for use of the substance under medical supervision. Thus most American providers, for example Rocky Carravelli and his crew in Sayulita Mexico – see Links page – have been driven out of the US, mostly to Mexico and the Carribbean.
In New Zealand, due to several enquiries about importing Ibogiane, and also the efforts of a Maori woman, Marie Cotter, and her continual pressure to provide a detoxification method for the many thousands of methamphetamine addicts in NZ, the medicine was considered by Medsafe, the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority.
In November 2009 the Medsafe committee decided to classify Ibogaine as a prescription medicine. Minutes of the Medsafe meeting can be seen here.
Thus, in the years of 2010 and 2011, Dr Cornelius and Anah van Dorp attended the 2nd International Conference for Ibogaine providers in Barcelona, and then began treatments in the Far North of New Zealand. 2012 finds us now operating a full time detoxification service in Kaitaia.
In March 2012 we presented the development of our Iboga Clinic as well as some of the history and science behind Iboga detox to the New Zealand Association of Opioid Treatment Providers in Wellington, and how we came to found our Iboga Clinic in the Far North. The same presentation as well as some of the cases listed on our Cases page was presented at the October 2012 Vancouver Conference. The presentation can be viewed here.