Ibogaine, a naturally occurring psychoactive substance found in plants, shows great potential in treating addiction. According to experts, this psychedelic drug is unique and powerful. However, it bears side effects that can be fatal.
Thus, researchers are now developing drugs that replicate ibogaine's impact on addiction without the side effects. In fact, a drug that is chemically related to ibogaine but lacks its hallucinogenic properties is set to begin phase II clinical trials in California early this year.
The results of animal studies have been perplexing. A meta-analysis in May 2016 examining 32 studies, mostly in mice and rats, found that ibogaine reduced self-administration of cocaine, opioids and alcohol. Additionally, a study from 2015 found that noribogaine (the substance that ibogaine breaks down to when ingested) reduced self-administration of nicotine in rats by 64 percent.
A pharmaceutical company in California called, Savant HWP, has developed a drug called 18-MC. It is a compound related to ibogaine, which experts hope that will produce the antiaddictive properties without triggering hallucinations.
Savant HWP CEO Stephen Hurst reports
that during the trials, the drug was “well tolerated” and there were “no serious adverse effects,” although it was “much more potent than we were expecting.”
Though there's a chance that Ibogaine can reduce addiction in its natural form, experts warn that there's not enough information about the risks of taking the drug. There have been reported adverse effects including heart attack and seizures. Several people have also died while seeking addiction relief with ibogaine.
Ibogaine works by disrupting the cycle of addiction. People who have tried it said, they experienced intense hallucinogenic trip. They added, going through years' of therapy happened in 24 hours with Ibogaine, with flashbacks to childhood and pivotal experiences.
“It was so vivid. It was like watching a movie with your eyes closed,” says Kevin
, who tried ibogaine for multiple addictions during a stay at a clinic in Mexico.
“I had visions of me being 16 years old when I used to drink cough syrup, and my mom caught me one night and she was crying.”
However, experiences with ibogaine vary from person to person. Not everyone experiences the drug's trippy effects. Experts, still, pointed out that use of Ibogaine is not the cure for addiction. Relapse would likely happen in people who use ibogaine as their only means of therapy without changing their other harmful patterns.