What Is Iboga: A Plant With Unparalleled Power Over Addiction

Photo: Tabernanthe iboga.


by Ocean Malandra

on October 26, 2016

Featuring first person testimony from former drug addict turned iboga therapist Dimitri Mugianis and a compelling interview with the “Father of the Ibogaine Movement,” scientist and researcher Howard Lotsof, this short film is a concise introduction to the medicinal powers of the sacred African root bark that is gaining a worldwide reputation as the most potent and successful addiction treatment on earth.

“Iboga healed me from drug addiction,” states Mugianis in the video. “I was a 20-year drug addict. I was injecting cocaine and heroin. I was on methadone. I could not stop.”

“With one treatment of iboga, eleven years ago, I stopped my addiction to heroin, cocaine, and methadone,” he states.

“What is special about ibogaine is that it can reverse addiction,” Howard Lotsoff comments. “I mean we can take an active heroin addict, an active cocaine addict, with a completely runaway addiction syndrome, and bring them into a hospital, or bring them into an apartment, or bring them into a Bwiti temple and give them ibogaine, or iboga, or iboga extract and completely reverse that addiction. So we can turn an addict into a non-addict over a two to three day period. And that is simply something that is unseen.”

Traditionally used in West African countries including Cameroon, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to induce deep hallucinogenic trances where profound healings take place, iboga is now being used in specialized clinics in Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, and New Zealand to treat drug addiction, one of modern civilizations most persistent maladies, with astonishing results.

In fact, according to the Global Ibogaine Therapry Allaince, who advocate for iboga use and help patients fund iboga treatments, the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) started funding pre-clinical animal trials and safety human trials on iboga for treating addiction in the early 1990s, based on the many studies and reports of its efficacy. But research was halted because of intellectual property legal concerns.

Photo: Tabernanthe iboga growing in Bali. Via: Scamperdale | Flickr | Licensed by Creative Commons 2.0.

Photo: Tabernanthe iboga growing in Bali. Via: Scamperdale | Flickr | Licensed by Creative Commons 2.0.

“I’ve seen people really come to grips with eating disorders, body image,” says Mugianis, who was also the subject of the 2010 full length documentary film I’m Dangerous With Love, which chronicles iboga culture in Africa and its use for detox in the U.S. “It’s an incredible tool for healing, for healing the wounds that we inflict on each other and on ourselves.”

“As a drug to be used in psychotherapy I don’t think it has an equal,” says Lotsoff. “It just allows a complete review by the individual of the issues they consider the most important to themselves. We all know the questions we have to ask and we all know the answers, but ibogaine precipitates that discussion.”

Iboga and its derivatives, like ibogaine, remain Schedule 1 narcotics in the United States, but with the help of short films like, “What is iboga,” grounded in first person experiences and real scientific facts, the perceptions surrounding this powerful natural medicine are sure to change.