Can Plant Medicine From Africa End the Opioid Epidemic?

An End to the Opioid Epidemic? New Study Suggests Ibogaine Treatment Could Be a Game Changer

Posted by | Dec 25, 2017 | , , , , , , | 0
opiate epidemic
Ibogaine is a naturally-occurring psychoactive compound frequently extracted from the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga, the plant source of ibogaine, which has its origins in the Bwiti cult of Gabon, a Central African religious group (1). In Gabon, the government has declared iboga as “a national treasure,” but in the U.S., ibogaine is listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is considered to have high abuse potential and no medical value. In other countries such as New Zealand, Mexico, the Bahamas, Canada, Australia, Spain, Brazil, Costa Rica, and South Africa, ibogaine treatment is currently used in clinical and medical contexts for treating substance use disorders (SUD). In these contexts, the ibogaine is often derived via semi-synthesis from a more widely available alternative African plant called Voacanga africana.
How ibogaine works in treating addiction is not yet fully understood. It is known to possess multiple mechanisms of action that can simultaneously alleviate the acute symptoms of opioid withdrawal, reduce opioid use and cravings for extended periods or permanently, engender novel insights about the psychological origins of one’s addiction, and improve mood. Human anecdotal reports and case studies have also indicated that ibogaine can help reduce cravings to a variety of other highly addictive drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and alcohol (2). Additionally, iboga has a host of medical benefits including antifungal and anti-parasitic properties, and is being investigated as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease due to its ability to regenerate dopamine cells in the brain.

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