Ibogaine Scientific Research with Thomas Kingsley Brown, Ph.D


With a master’s degree in chemistry and a Ph.D. in anthropology, Dr. Thomas Kingsley Brown takes a comprehensive approach to study topics of altered states of consciousness, religious conversion, and the uses of ibogaine in the treatment of opioid addiction. He joins us today to discuss the current research into ibogaine.

Ibogaine is not one of the most well-known psychoactive compounds. Dr. Brown explains what this plant medicine is and what it is derived from. Ibogaine is most often derived from the root bark of the iboga shrub from west-central Africa. It was used by certain African populations in a ceremonial context for centuries.

Dr. Brown delves into some of ibogaine’s more recent history as a treatment for opioid addiction. Its anti-addiction effects were anecdotally first discovered by accident in the 1960s by Howard Lotsof. After an experience with ibogaine, Lotsof found that he no longer desired heroin. This kicked off a career researching the anti-addiction effects of this compound.

Dr. Brown shares what his research has gleaned concerning ibogaine’s mechanism of action. The full mechanism is still not entirely clear. However, he has found that it acts in two ways. First, there is a biochemical action in the brain and body. There is also a powerful psychoactive effect. These two effects seem to work in tandem to eliminate opioid desire and withdrawal symptoms. Research participants have reported several intriguing observations besides a drop in drug use, particularly an improvement in social wellbeing.

In This Episode

• The natural and artificial sources of ibogaine
• How ibogaine became associated with opioid addiction recovery
• What is known about ibogaine’s mechanism of action
• Common experiences of people who have undergone ibogaine therapy
• Possible effects of ibogaine to promote neural health
• Thoughts on the efficacy of using medicines with tribal origins in a clinical setting


“It seems that this would facilitate rewiring of the brain. You could look at this as being a potential mechanism for creating new pathways where you’re not automatically going into your addictive behavior.” [12:46]

“Even if you’re not using it to treat addiction, it will force you to confront things you’ve been avoiding.” [17:05]

“As an anthropologist, it seems to me that the more we can set our intentions going in, really being careful about the setting, then the better we’ll do with these psychedelic therapies.” [29:32]


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