Psychedelic Medicine


Ibogaine History and Legality with Dr. Thomas Kingsley Brown


Dr. Thomas Kingsley Brown is back on the show to discuss the history and legality of ibogaine. With a master’s degree in chemistry and a Ph.D. in anthropology, he has conducted extensive research into altered states of consciousness, religious conversion, and the use of ibogaine in the treatment of opioid addiction.

In this episode, Dr. Brown describes the origin of ibogaine which is derived from iboga, a plant indigenous to west-central Africa. Its bark has been sacramentally used by the Bwiti people for countless generations. At the turn of the 20th Century, ibogaine was first isolated from iboga. Various drugs were derived from this in Europe and North America throughout much of the century.

During the war on drugs, this obscure psychedelic was regulated and criminalized in the United States in 1967. In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act declared ibogaine to be a Schedule 1 drug.

In the 1980s, efforts to explore ibogaine’s potential to treat chemical addiction got underway. With opioid use linked to the transmission of HIV/AIDS, various groups began looking at ibogaine as a tool for recovery.

There have always been a few countries where ibogaine remained unregulated. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that New Zealand became the first country to legalize it as a medicine for use in opioid recovery. In several US cities, such as Oakland, ibogaine was recently decriminalized. That said, its legal future remains uncertain.

In This Episode

• The natural African roots of ibogaine
• How ibogaine was used in various medications during the 20th Century
• What led to the criminalization and regulation of ibogaine
• The movement to explore ibogaine’s use in addiction recovery
• How and where ibogaine was legalized or decriminalized in recent years


“It’s sort of a twisted history in a way. There are a lot of different things that go into it. But chemically ibogaine was first isolated and purified from the iboga shrub in 1901.” [4:09]

“Psychedelics are not addictive, ibogaine among them. Ibogaine is usually a difficult trip, especially for people who are using it for getting off opioids.” [10:11]

“I think it will be at least some time before we are able to see legal ibogaine treatment here in the US.” [24:03]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.