What sort of pre-treatment procedures do you follow?
“We cater to people all over the world – So we put them through a thorough screening process, first through correspondence, then in person.
That person really needs to want to make a lifestyle change otherwise its just a waste of our time and their resources. Then they are examined medically – General, ECG (Q-T interval checks), Liver, Kidneys and Pancreas; blood panel. We try to avoid high dose treatments on anyone who is not in the best of health; in some cases the person needs to work on nutrition first. Depending on the situation, we can administer lower doses at regular intervals to people who are not 100% healthy. This is a little safer and less of an ordeal to go through. For example: People suffering from depression are able to use about a half gram of iboga root bark every four days; the effects are immediate other than with pharmaceuticals that are addictive and which you have to take daily. ”
What does the actual treatment procedure entail?
Preparation is very important. With any sort of psychedelic or psychoactive drug you need to get the person taking it to be focused and relaxed. I try to spend as much time with the patient as possible to get to know them. As I have experience in taking the drug myself, I can empathize with and comfort the patient while reading his or her body language. Drug effects that may be seen as abnormal by a doctor are normal in my experience. A side effect of Ibogaine is sleeplessness for the first night– similar to what is experienced during opiate withdrawal. I explain step by step what they are going through in order that I may gain their confidence. Working with the drug, especially a psychoactive drug, it helps to have a good personal understanding and empathy of what the patient is going through. You learn to know the signs of distress. When the patient knows that you have undertaken the same experience, he or she trusts your judgment, perhaps more so than they may trust a doctor or employee in a more clinically minded environment.
First of all you start to feel heavy, and then you desire to lie down. For the first twelve hours, it is very much an internal experience. Everything happens when your eyes are closed – if there is any subject matter that comes up that is disturbing to you, you simply open your eyes and it is gone. In most cases these visions are things that needs to be worked through. Unlike other psychedelic drugs that create intense visual hallucination, Ibogaine is far more subtle in some ways. You may see visual changes when moving your head and experience auditory sensitivity, but that is with your eyes open. Every thing else happens behind closed eyes.
The second day is usually the most difficult for some people. While it is much easier to endure than withdrawal, the patient feels an excess of energy – he or he has spent a long time lying down and may feel uncomfortable. We have many means to alleviate these feelings – a warm bath or a therapeutic massage often helps. The patient just needs to communicate what they are feeling and if it’s bothering them; then we can take steps to address the issue.
On the third day, the patient enters the recovery phase; every day they will feel 50% better than the day before. Often the patient is able to move to a less supervised environment at this stage.”
In order to see long term results, do you need to do repeat doses of Ibogaine, or is it a once off treatment?
“At the end of the day, it is always up to the individual. Iboga will give you insight into reasons for your addiction, stop cravings and relieve withdrawal symptoms – lasting for quite a period of time. Long term is up to the individual. What I sometimes do to buy more time for the patient to make lifestyle changes is to administer low doses of the root bark – it just keeps them on an even keel, so to speak. When any of the triggers for the addictive behavior show up, they just take a low dose. This is not like “Methadone maintenance” where you effectively replace one drug with another though – the only time you take Iboga is when you want to or feel the need to.
Iboga is definitely not something you have to keep taking once you have dealt with your issues. It helps you to heal internally and is not a physical crutch you depend on. There is no medical need to ever take it again unless you want to or feel the need or desire.
For me, involved in Bwiti, I take small doses occasionally. This is also like a renewal process, getting rid of anything that has ‘built up’ in the interim. Going back to the traditional aspects, if anyone has an illness or a grievance in the community, this would be addressed or vented when taking Iboga. What I feel what we lack in western culture is the enabling environment where we can really say what our problems are. We internalize these things and they become physical problems.
What is the difference between an Iboga treatment and other conventional treatments?
“The duration of the Iboga experience allows the patient to fully explore and address issues which arise. The time limitations of conventional therapy sometimes curtail these developing explorations, or necessitate revisiting the same issues again and again with no real progress. An analogy which proves useful is that your brain is a filing cabinet of memories that Ibogaine systematically takes out on the first day and re-files in a better order on the second. This‘re-filing’ gives you tremendous insight into areas of your own personality that need work. Patients who choose the Ibogaine experience become much easier to treat and welcome the process, while often conventional treatments lead to patients being ‘treatment-saturated’. Some rehabilitation clinic patients could easily teach the program they have undergone, without getting any benefits from it themselves.
Unlike some other programs, not everyone can be given the same regimen, so our treatment is tailored to each individual. Physical makeup, backgrounds and tolerances are all different, so changes are made to the dosages. A typical treatment process takes about 72 hours, broken up into three stages. After three days people are generally able to move on to a less supervised environment or secondary care. I wouldn’t suggest going back into work after three days – you need to give it at least a week to fully recover and feel relatively normal and notice the full effect of the treatment.”
What is the success rate of Iboga?
“A tailored aftercare program is essential to a good success rate. Informal international studies have shown that Iboga treatment has an upward of 60% chance of successfully curing long term drug addictions. This is based on a single high dose, and only the absolute minimum supervision and no long term support care.
This can be hugely maximized by formulating a well thought out after care procedure. My personal professional success rate is 100%, in the sense that everyone who is treated by me gains a degree of insight into their addiction, experiences no withdrawal or craving and leave here totally drug free without the desire to use. How long that lasts is up to them. Some of my patients have such fantastic life changing experience, but if someone does not come into the treatment process willing to change their lifestyle, they will go back to their addictions. Ibogaine or iboga is a tool – and a good one – but the work is always the individual’s responsibility. This is also why I believe patients should have a realistic expectation from their treatment and another reason I like to spend as much time as possible with them beforehand to prepare them for it.
People mistakenly view Iboga as something of a ‘magic solution’. This is not the case. Although it achieves much faster results than other programs, the responsibility of a successful treatment still lies with the patient. While Iboga may give you clarity and access to spiritual resources buried inside you, you still have to put these realizations into practice. It is a very useful tool, but you still have to do the job.”
For someone who was not an addict, but merely looking for spiritual or mental rejuvenation and change, could you administer the same dose?
“Yes, but it’s not always necessary. For the last two years or so I have been studying the effects of administering smaller doses over an extended period of time. I have found that if you take someone who has been given a high dose treatment and compare them with a person who has been given smaller doses over a longer time period, they reach the same point, albeit over a longer time. The outcome of treatment is similar. There are still major benefits of doing the “Full” experience though. The best way to describe the treatment is to call it a “Rebirth”. This is also a way to describe the heightened sensitivity that the patient feels on the second day – very much like being a baby again, so everything is new. You even have to start with easily digestible foods specially prepared, etc.”