Tabernanthe Iboga, A low growing african shrub is so far the only natural source of ibogaine that has any history of ritual use. It grows throughout tropical zones of west africa, mainly in Gabon but also throughout Zaire.

Used primarily by the Bwiti, a cult found in Gabon. Eboka, as they know it, is used in lower doses as a stimulant and hunting aid, or an aphrodisiac. Higher doses are believed to bring the user into contact with their ancestors. Eboka has been central to the Christian based Bwiti cult for hundreds of years. Ibogaine itself has come under european scrutiny relatively recently, its properties being extremely difficult to categorise in relation with any other mind altering chemical:

"Taking the substance is a powerful, intense and fundamental experience that has brought a massive response from many people seeking to deal with addiction to heroin." - Dan Leiberman, a South African ethno-botanist who has been studying ibogaine for the past twelve years.

Heroin users taking this drug have undergone a strange and powerful change. Coming out of a three day ibogaine trip a large percentage of users have reported that they simply do not want heroin anymore. Not only this but the normal "cold turkey" experienced by heroin addicts is minimal, or even nonexistent. Ibogaine is not a complete solution - many users have returned to heroin after a period of abstinence - there is evidence that a percentage of addicts exposed to ibogaine have never gone back to their old ways.

Whilst this all sounds incredible, there are drawbacks. Like any drug, Ibogaine has had its casualties. It has been found that Ibogaine is fairly easy to overdose on if taken unsupervised, and it can on occasion react badly in some people. It is seven times more likely for a woman to have an adverse reaction than a man, although no-one knows quite why this is. There have been deaths attributed to Ibogaine use. This has lead to Ibogaine being (typically) banned as a Dangerous Psychedelic in the USA, and it is now schedule I. In the UK it is so unheard of it does not exist on any lists naming it to be illicit in any way. In Holland research is being made, and several clinics are offering expensive ibogaine treatments for addicts.

Many books have been written on the ibogaine story, there is way too much information out there to be crammed into one node. If you are interested in reading more, information is available on the net from http://www.erowid.org and http://www.lycaeum.org.

Famed Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, on the basis of personal experience with the drug, suspected that Ed Muskie was using heavy doses of ibogaine during his 1972 campaign for the Democratic nomination. Effects of heavy ibogaine use, according to Thompson, are nervousness, violent mood swings, and surreal hallucination. Speaking of an incident in Florida, in which Muskie flipped out in the back of a train, while being heckled, he says:

It is entirely possible -- given the known effects of Ibogaine -- that Muskie's brain was almost entirely paralyzed by hallucinations at the time; that he looked out at the crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people, and that his mind snapped completely when he felt something large and apparently vicious clawing at his legs.

Of course, this could have been the effect of a political campaign on a completely unstable mind...

The thing about ibogaine, so I hypothesize, is that it basically makes it much easier to succeed in the (major) step of quitting heroin, etc. cold turkey. It does not make therapy/counseling unnecessary to continue the abstinence successfully. It's not a miracle, it's just a drug.

There will always be that feeling of openness, of familiarity, toward whatever substance you're coming off of. For example, I only smoked cigarettes for about four months, but even after having quit for around half a year (more than enough time for any physical side of the addiction to fade) it's still hard to resist accepting an offered smoke from a friend. Once you do something like that (smoking, opiates, whatever), you've crossed a psychological line, and it no longer seems like such a big deal, even if you loathe the thought of becoming addicted again.

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