Ibogaine – A legacy within the current renaissance of psychedelic therapy
Ibogaine is a powerful psychoactive substance that not only alters perception, mood and affect, but also stops addictive behaviors. Ibogaine has a very long history of ethnobotanical use in low doses to combat fatigue, hunger and thirst and in high doses as a sacrament in African ritual contexts. In the 1960s, American and European self-help groups provided public testimonials that a single dose of ibogaine alleviated drug craving, opioid withdrawal symptoms and prevented relapse for weeks, months and sometimes years. Ibogaine is rapidly demethylated by first-pass metabolism to a long-acting metabolite noribogaine. Ibogaine and its metabolite interact with two or more CNS targets simultaneously and both drugs have demonstrated predictive validity in animal models of addiction. Online forums endorse the benefits of ibogaine as an “addiction interrupter” and present-day estimates suggest that more than ten thousand people have sought treatment in countries where the drug is unregulated. Open label pilot studies of ibogaine-assisted drug detoxification have shown positive benefit in treating addiction. Ibogaine, granted regulatory approval for human testing in a Phase 1/2a clinical trial, joins the current landscape of psychedelic medicines in clinical development.