H.S. Lotsof1, C.A. Smith F.2, J. Bastiaans3
Ibogaine, an alkaloid of the West Central African plant Tabernanthe iboga
has been used in traditional religion and medicine for centuries. Recent
clinical research has demonstrated Ibogaine's utility in the interruption of
dependence to narcotics, stimulants, alcohol, nicotine and poly-drug use.
Ibogaine manifests itself pharmacologically and psychologically. In the latter,
repressed memories are accessed objectively by the patient, for the most part in a non-emotional,
non-threatening manner. Ibogaine initiates a pharmacologically induced process
whereby patients gain insight into the trauma underlying their chemical
dependence. Ibogaine is particularly important as it eliminates narcotic
withdrawal and drug craving, while concurrently allowing the patient and the
treatment group to come to an understanding of the patient's underlying
psychopathology. These effects, including abreaction, are generally
accomplished within four days of a single Ibogaine administration. Ibogaine
therapy, as other treatment modalities for substance-related disorders, may
require a psychosocial support structure to assist the patient in overcoming chemical use disorders. return
to table of contents
Case Report Two
The second example is of a 33 year old woman with a twenty year history
of heroin, Methadone and cocaine use. This patient received a series of
four treatments with Ibogaine. Three were at therapeutic doses and one
was part of an experimental protocol not anticipated to be
This patient came to our attention seeking treatment with Ibogaine for
Methadone detoxification. The patient was in a Methadone program and
was receiving 80 mgs/day of Methadone.
Upon arrival for her first treatment the patient revealed deep
ulcerations on both arms due to IV cocaine use of approximately $100.00
USD per day. Infection was so significant that treatment was delayed
for some days while the infection was treated. The patient stated she
did not disclose cocaine use as her employer who had paid for her
treatment and felt her employment would have been terminated if the
employer had knowledge of her cocaine use.
The patient was administered Ibogaine. Twenty-four hours after
Ibogaine treatment the patient was very uncomfortable due to inability
to sleep and was sedated with benzodiazepines. Forty-eight hours post
treatment the patient was recovered, claimed to feel well, appeared
exuberant and asked to be released to stay with a friend in a nearby
Three months after her treatment the patient requested a second
treatment for heroin use. The patient’s response was similar to her
first experience and within two days she had recovered and left the
Approximately one year later the patient requested treatment again and
was among the first patients to be treated in the experimental program
authorized by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Panama. These
were the first treatments in fully controlled hospital environments.
Detailed discussions were held with the patient concerning her previous
experiences. The patient disclosed that on both previous occasions she
experienced withdrawal four to six days after treatment. Maintaining
the patient in-hospital would allow us to observe the patient and
determine what withdrawal signs might be seen.
The patient was part of the research program conducted in collaboration
with the University of Miami. That phase of the research incorporated
pharmacokinetic studies at 10 mgs/kg of Ibogaine. This dose, based on
prior experience, was not anticipated to eliminate narcotic withdrawal
and the patient was maintained as required on morphine or Meperidine.
The patient was very anxious.
Two days later, apparently recovered from the 10 mgs/kg of Ibogaine, the
patient was administered a therapeutic dose of 20 mg/kg of Ibogaine.
The patient did not display any objective signs of narcotic withdrawal
though she did exhibit increasing degrees of anxiety. She signed a
hospital release designating that she was leaving against medical
advice, but then overslept, missed her plane and was persuaded to stay
in the hospital to allow observations of the withdrawal signs she
No withdrawal signs were noticed, however, by day four anxiety levels
were significant and the patient began to recount a history of terrible
physical abuse by her mother and later a heroin dealer she worked for
when she was 14 years of age. The patient recounted scar by scar the
story: A scar on her head where her mother hit her with a shoe, a scar
on her leg, a burn received from a coal stove. The patient reported
that though the wound from the stove was bleeding uncontrollably, her
mother sent her to the butcher to buy some meat. The butcher bandaged
her leg before sending her home.
The most disturbing account was that of an incident that occurred at the
age of 14 when she was dealing heroin for a pimp. One of the women who
worked as a prostitute told the patient of a babysitting job that she
could have. When she went to the apartment in response to the job
offer, the pimp and the women were there. She was beaten and sexually asaulted. There
followed a period of beathings, threats of beatings and death in order to maintain
her as a prostitute. It was not clear how long this lasted, but was
believed to be about two years until she was rescued by friends.
The patient's anxiety became acute after leaving the hospital five days post Ibogaine treatment.
When the car taking her to the hotel slowed for a light the patient opened the door and fled the car
with staff in pursuit calling her name to which she was not immediately responsive. After a few
minutes she responded to her name and informed the treatment group that she had not recognized them
and thought she was being chased by her mother. Members of the treatment group stayed with her in a
hotel until anxiety levels became reasonable. The patient continuously recounted how she had been
physically abused by her mother.
When the patient returned to New York she confronted her mother who
admitted the abuse. The patient who had been living with her mother
obtained her own apartment, remained drug free and determined to seek
training in substance-abuse counseling. return to table of contents
Case Report Three
Patient three is the most public of our patients and has provided himself on video tape and
cooperated in a manner that is difficult under the effects of Ibogaine: To answer questions and
hold discussions. The patient's response represents a multiple treatment delayed effect of
Patient was 32 years of age when first treated with Ibogaine and had been waiting 3 years for
treatment. We were eventually able to offer him a subsidized treatment as he had no funds. At
that time he was on a Methadone program and using 80 mgs/day of Methadone. He was also using
heroin and smoking crack. He was about to be discharged from his Methadone program for continuous
positive urines and was making no progress in his life. He had been using various drugs since the
age of 14.
He was treated with Ibogaine and remained drug free for approximately 3 months. During his
treatment he claimed to have reviewed early life experiences relating to abuse by his step father
for which he held his mother responsible. He also felt alienated as, in his words,
Being a Jewish
kid in a tough Italian neighborhood in New York, he was getting continuously beat up."
He recovered more slowly from the effects of Ibogaine then any other patient we treated. I think he
would have remained in bed for more then five days if we did not have to give up the room.
His treatment appeared to follow a normal course including elimination of withdrawal and
interruption of drug seeking behavior. During this "window of opportunity" period, he arranged for
a scholarship to a University and was accepted as a student. Three months later he requested
retreatment, claiming he was experiencing craving for heroin. Retreatment was given with similar
results in that a temporary interruption of his drug using behavior was accomplished and he
continued with his studies. Some months later he informed us that he had resumed drug use.
We were not able to offer the patient another treatment for over a year. During that time he had
escalated his Methadone to 100 mgs/day, supplementing it with up to $40.00 USD of heroin and was
beginning to smoke crack. But, he was in school, getting B+ grades and we were determined not to
Following this treatment his pattern of ibogaine therapy and drug use continued unabated. He had
about three months of non drug use followed by craving. He returned to Methadone, dose escalating up
and eventually returning to his pattern of supplementing the Methadone with heroin.
It was difficult to understand why he was following this pattern. He was making progress at the
University and beginning to establish a lifestyle that would allow him to be self supporting. In
discussions with the patient he was asked, "Can't you see the tremendous progress that you have made
since the time of your first Ibogaine treatment?" He said, "No, he could not see any progress."
Three months later he called again and told of an experience that occurred during the work/study
program within which he participated at the University. He had been assigned to take a group of
Freshman and walk them through the campus. He said, "Suddenly, he recognized that two years ago he
was one of those Freshman." He recognized his accomplishment and the progress he had made. He
ceased heroin use immediately and began a slow methodical reduction in his 80 mgs/day of Methadone.
Prior to leaving for a study program in Italy, he had reduced his Methadone to 10 mgs/day and was
intent on stopping Methadone use completely.
The patient throughout this period, continued intermittent but, regular contact with a
psychotherapist from the time of his first Ibogaine treatment. He views Ibogaine in conjunction with
psychotherapy as allowing him to bring order and a sense of accomplishment to his life.
[Revisiting this paper ten years after the original writing we can further ccomment on patient #3. He
returned to heroin use, was arrested a served a few years in prison. Upon release he obtained work
as a counselor in a therapeutic cocmmunity. Currentely he attends NA meetings and has not used
drugs for four years.]
In closing Ibogaine appears to offer a unique tool to both the patient and the clinician to allow
the elimination of physical withdrawal characteristics and the accessing of repressed memories in a
non threatening manner by which the majority of patients can gain an understanding of the trauma
underlying their chemical dependence and to achieve accomplishments necessary to give them a sense
of self worth without which it would be more difficult to break the cycle of substance use disorders. Most
important, for many of the patients, Ibogaine allowed them to understand the benefit and role
required of a psychosocial support structure including medical professionals, counselors,
self-help organizations and the ability to tap into their own inner strength to allow normalization
into and survival in a prohibitionist society. return to table of contents
Selected Ibogaine Bibliography
Bastiaans J, The Use of Hallucinogenic Drugs in Psychosomatic Therapy, Proceedings of the European
Conference on Psychosomatic Research, Norway, 1978.
Bastiaans J, On Freedom and Induction, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 38:24-31, 1982.
Broderick PA, Phelan FT, Eng F, Wechsler RT, Ibogaine Modulates Cocaine Responses Which Are Altered
Due to Environmental Habituation: In Vivo Microvoltammetric and Behavioral Studies, Pharmacology
Biochemistry and Behavior, 49(3):711-728, 1994.
Cappendijk SLT, Dzoljic MR, Inhibitory effects of ibogaine on cocaine self-administration in rats,
European Journal of Pharmacology, 241:261-265, 1993.
Deecher DC, Teitler M, Soderland DM, Bornmann WG, Kuehne MR, Glick SD, Mechanisms of action of
ibogaine and harmaline congeners based on radioligand binding studies, Brain Research, 571:242-247,
Dzoljic ED, Kaplan CD, Dzoljic MR, Effects of Ibogaine on Naloxone-Precipitated Withdrawal Syndrome
in Chronic Morphine-Dependent Rats, Archive of International Pharmacodynamics, 294:64-70, 1988.
Fernandez JW, Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination In Africa, Princeton University Press, 1982.
Glick SD, Rossman K, Steindorf S, Maisonneuve IM, Carlson JN, Effects and aftereffects of ibogaine
on morphine self-administration in rats, European Journal of Pharmacology, 195:341-345, 1991.
Glick SD, Rossman K, Rao NC, Maisonneuve IM, Carlson JN, Effects of Ibogaine on Acute Signs of
Morphine Withdrawal in Rats: Independence from Tremor, Neuropharmacology, 31(5):497-500, 1992.
Goutarel R, Gollnhofer O, Sillans R, Pharmacodynamics and Therapeutic Applications of boga and
Ibogaine, Psychedelic Monographs and Essays, vol. 6, 1993a.
Goutarel R, Gollnhofer O, Sillans R, L'IBOGA CONTRE LA DEPENDENCE AUX STUPEFIANTS. PHARMACODYNAMIE
ET APPLICATIONS PSYCHOTHERAPEAUTIQUES, Psychotropes, 3(3):63-86, 1993b.
Harsing LG, Sershen H, Lajtha A, Evidence that ibogaine releases dopamine from the cytoplasmic pool
in isolated mouse striatum, Journal of Neural Transmission, 96:215-225, 1994.Harsing LG, Sershen H,
Lajtha A, Evidence that ibogaine releases dopamine from the cytoplasmic pool in isolated mouse
striatum, Journal of Neural Transmission, 96:215-225, 1994.
Kaplan CD, Ketzer E, de Jong J, de Vries M, Reaching a State of Wellness: Multistage Explorations
in Social Neuroscience, Social Neuroscience Bulletin, 6(1):6-7, 1993.
Lotsof HS, U.S. patent 4,499,096; Rapid Method for Interrupting the Narcotic Addiction Syndrome,
Lotsof HS, U.S. Patent 5,026,697, Rapid Method for Interrupting or Attenuating The Nicotine/Tobacco
Dependency Syndrome., 1991.
Lotsof HS, U.S. patent 5,152,994; Rapid Method for Interrupting or Attenuating Poly-drug Dependency
Syndromes, 1992. http://ibogaine.org/5152994.html
Lotsof HS, Ibogaine in the Treatment of Chemical Dependence Disorders: Clinical Perspectives (A
Preliminary Review), Bull. MAPS, 5(3), 1995.
Lotsof HS, Della Sera EA and Kaplan CD, Ibogaine in the Treatment of Narcotic Withdrawal,
Proceedings of the International Council on Alcohol and Addiction's 37th International Congress on
Alcohol and Drug Dependence, La Jolla, CA, http://ibogaine.org/ibonarco.htm
Mach RH, Smith CR, Childers SR, Ibogaine possesses a selective affinity for sigma2 receptors, Life
Sci., 57:57-62, 1995.
Maisonneuve IM, Rossman KL, Keller Jr. RW, Glick SD, Acute and prolonged effects of ibogaine on
brain dopamine metabolism and morphine-induced locomotor activity in rats, Brain Research,
Mash DC, Staley JK, Baumann MH, Rothman RB and Hearn WL, Identification of a Primary Metabolite of
Ibogaine that Targets Serotonin Transporters and Elevates Serotonin, Life Sciences 57(3):PL 45-50,
Mash DC, Staley JK, Pablo JP, Holohean AM, Hackman JC and Davidoff RA, Properties of Ibogaine and
its Principal Metabolite (12-hydroxyibogamine) at the MK-801 Binding Site of the NMDA Receptor
Complex, Neuroscience Letters, 192:53-56, 1995.
Molinari HH, Maisonneuve IM, Glick SD, Ibogaine neurotoxicity: a re-evaluation, Brain Research,
Naranjo C, Psychotherapeutic Possibilities New Fantasy Enhancing Drugs, Clinical Toxicology,
Naranjo C, The Healing Journey, Pantheon Books, Div. Random House, NY, 174-228, 1973.Naranjo C, The
Healing Journey, Pantheon Books, Div. Random House, NY, 174-228, 1973.
Pearl SM, Herrick-Davis K, Teitler M, Glick SD, Radioligand-Binding Study of Noribogaine, a Likely
Metabolite of Ibogaine, Brain Research, 675, 342-344, 1995.
Popik P, Layer RT, Skolnick P, The Putative anti-addictive drug ibogaine is a competitive inhibitor
of [3H]MK-801 binding to the NMDA receptor complex, Psychopharmacology, 114:672-674, 1994.
Popik P, Layer, RT, Skolnick P, 100 Years of Ibogaine: Neurochemical and Pharmacological Actions of
a Putative Anti-addictive Drug, Pharmacological Reviews, 47(2):235-250, 1995.
Popik P and Glick SD, Ibogaine, A Putively Anti-Addictive Alkaloid, Drugs of the Future,
21(11):1109-1115, S.A. Prous, 1996.
Rezvani AH, Overstreet DH, Yue-Wei Lee, Attenuation of Alcohol Intake by Ibogaine in Three Strains
of Alcohol-Preferring Rats, Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 52(2), 1995.
Sershen H, Hashim A, Lajtha A, Effects of Ibogaine on Serotonergic and Dopaminergic Interactions in
Striatum of Mice and Rats, Neurochemical Research, 19(11):1463- 1465, 1994a.
Sershen H, Hashim A, Lajtha A, The Effects of Ibogaine on Kappa-Opioid and 5-HT3-Induced Changes in
Stimulation-Evoked Dopamine Release in Vitro from Striatum of C57BL/By Mice, Brain Research,
Sershen H, Hashim A and Lajtha A, Effect of Ibogaine on Cocaine-Induced Efflux of [3H] Dopamine and
[3H] Serotonin From Mouse Striatum, Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 53(4):863-869, 1996a.
Sershen H, Hashim A, Lajtha A, The Effects of Ibogaine on Sigma- and NMDA-Receptor-Mediated Release
of [3H]Dopamine, Brain Research Bulletin 40(1):63-67, 1996b.
Sheppard SG, A Preliminary Investigation of Ibogaine: Case Reports and Recommendations for Further
Study, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 11(4):379-385, 1994.
Sisko B, Interrupting Drug Dependency with Ibogaine: A Summary of Four Case Histories, MAPS 4(2):15-23, 1994.
return to table of contents