Related Chapters:
Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
Addictive Properties of Various Drugs

Page last updated June 9, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

6. Side Effects From Ibogaine

"Although ibogaine has been reported to effectively reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms in addicts (Sheppard, 1994), its tremorigenic, hallucinogenic, neurotoxic, and cardiovascular side effects (see Alper, 2001) have prevented its approval as a treatment for addiction. On the other hand, 18-methoxycoronaridine, although not yet tested in humans, has no apparent side effects in rats, presumably because it is more selective pharmacologically than ibogaine."

Pace, Christopher J., Glick, Stanley D., Maisonneuve, Isabelle M., He, Li-Wen, Jokiel, Patrick A., Kuehne, Martin E., and Fleck, Mark W., "Novel Iboga Alkaloid Congeners Block Nicotinic Receptors and Reduce Drug Self-Administration," European Journal of Pharmacology, Vol. 492, 2004, p. 159.

7. Side Effects of Ibogaine

"Despite its attractive properties, ibogaine is not approved as an addiction treatment because of the induction of side effects such as hallucinations. In addition, ibogaine at high doses causes degeneration of cerebellar Purkinje cells (O'Hearn and Molliver, 1993, 1997) and whole-body tremors and ataxia (Glick et al., 1992; O'Hearn and Molliver, 1993) in rats."

Dao-Yao He, Nancy N.H. McGough, Ajay Ravindranathan, Jerome Jeanblanc, Marian L. Logrip, Khanhky Phamluong, Patricia H. Janak, and Dorit Ron, "Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Mediates the Desirable Actions of the Anti-Addiction Drug Ibogaine against Alcohol Consumption," The Journal of Neuroscience, Vol. 25, No. 3, Jan. 19, 2005, p. 619.

8. How Ibogaine Works as a Treatment for Addiction or Substance Use Disorder

"As these researchers point out, and those most familiar with the treatment will testify, ibogaine is not, in general, a 'cure' for drug addiction.122 In the majority of cases, however, it does eliminate or substantially decrease signs and symptoms of withdrawal and the individual typically emerges some 36 hours later without physical dependence on the drug.123 'Ibogaine doesn’t eradicate the underlying causes of addiction, which for many people may take years to understand and come to terms with. Ibogaine is more than a detox, but it’s a catalyst, not a ‘cure.''124 Ibogaine creates a 'window of opportunity' where the individual can cognitively choose to take back control of his or her life.125"

Donnelly, Jennifer R, "The Need for Ibogaine in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment," The Journal of Legal Medicine (Schaumburg, IL: American College for Legal Medicine, March 2011), Vol. 32, Issue 1, p. 105.

9. Ibogaine's Legal Status

Laws and Policies

"Having been discovered by a drug addict, rather than by scientists in a laboratory, ibogaine has been condemned from the very beginning.133 Classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, ibogaine is listed in the same category with the very drugs it counteracts because its hallucinogenic properties arguably outweigh its medicinal value."

Donnelly, Jennifer R, "The Need for Ibogaine in Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment," The Journal of Legal Medicine (Schaumburg, IL: American College for Legal Medicine, March 2011), Vol. 32, Issue 1, p. 106.

10. Ibogaine Treatment Outside the United States

"The medical treatment model presently exists mainly in countries adjacent to the US, such as Mexico, where ibogaine is subsumed within a physician’s legal prerogative to prescribe experimental treatment, or Saint Kitts, where the government includes ibogaine in its national formulary and provides specific approval to the clinic there to administer it. The most common setting is a private clinic with less frequent use of hospitals."

Alper, Kenneth R.; Lotsof, Howard S.; and Kaplan, Charles D., "The ibogaine medical subculture," Journal of Ethnopharmacology (Cagliari, Italy: International Society for Ethnopharmacology, January 2008), Volume 115, Issue 1, p. 13.