A narrative review of the pharmacological, cultural and psychological literature on ibogaine
Ibogaine is a psychoactive alkaloid contained in the West African plant Tabernanthe iboga. Although preliminary, evidence suggests that ibogaine could be effective in the treatment of certain substance use disorders, specifically opioid use disorder. This narrative review concentrated on the pharmacological, cultural and psychological aspects of ibogaine that contribute to its reputed effectiveness with a specific focus on the ibogaine state of consciousness. Although the exact pharmacological mechanisms for ibogaine are still speculative, the literature highlighted its role as an NMDA antagonist in the effective treatment of substance use disorders. The cultural aspects associated with the use of ibogaine pose questions around the worldview of participants as experienced in the traditional and western contexts, which future research should clarify. From a psychological perspective, the theory that the ibogaine state of consciousness resembles REM sleep is questionable due to evidence that indicated ibogaine supressed REM sleep, and contradictory evidence in relation to learning and memory. The suggested classification of the ibogaine experience as oneirophrenic also seems inadequate as it only describes the first phase of the ibogaine experience. The ibogaine experience does however present characteristics consistent with holotropic states of consciousness, and future research could focus on exploring and potentially classifying the state of consciousness induced by ibogaine as holotropic.
The Ibogaine state of consciousness
Martie Underwood presented her latest research findings on the Ibogaine state of consciousness at the Ibogaine Conference hosted by Microdose and Universal Ibogaine on 19 and 20 February 2021. The event was host to an impressive number of high-calibre academic experts, international ibogaine practitioners, activists and indigenous leaders. Its an incredible time to be involved in ibogaine, and to witness it gaining momentum as an effective and viable alternative treatment option.