- For the record label, see Iboga Records
Iboga (Tabernanthe iboga), also known as Black bugbane, is a perennial rainforest shrub and hallucinogen, native to western Africa. Iboga stimulates the central nervous system when taken in small doses and induces visions in larger doses.
Normally growing to a height of 2 m, T. iboga may eventually grow into a small tree up to 10 m tall, given the right conditions. It has small green leaves. Its flowers are white and pink, while the elongated, oval-shaped fruit are orange. Its yellow-coloured roots contains a number of indole alkaloids, most notably ibogaine, which is found in the highest concentration in the root-bark. The root material, bitter in taste, causes an anaesthetic sensation in the mouth as well as systemic numbness to the skin.
The Iboga tree is the central pillar of the Bwiti religion practiced in West-Central Africa, mainly Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of the Congo, which utilises the alkaloid-containing roots of the plant in a number of ceremonies. Iboga is taken in massive doses by initiates when entering the religion, and on a more regular basis is eaten in smaller doses in connection with rituals and tribal dances, which is usually performed at night time. Bwitists have been subject to persecution by Catholic missionaries, who to this day are thoroughly opposed to the growing religious movement of Bwiti. Léon M'ba, before becoming the first President of Gabon in 1960, defended the Bwiti religion and the use of iboga in French colonial courts. On June 6, 2000, the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Gabon declared Tabernanthe iboga to be a national treasure.
Outside Africa, iboga extracts as well as the purified alkaloid ibogaine are used in treating opiate addiction. The therapy may last several days and upon completion the subject is generally no longer physically dependent. One methadone patient said in the Dutch behind-the-news show Twee Vandaag that in just four days he reached a state that normally would have taken him three months, but without the agony. Evidence suggests that ibogaine may also help to interrupt addiction to alcohol and nicotine. The pharmacological effects are rather undisputed with hundreds of peer reviewed papers in support but formal clinical studies have not been completed.
Iboga is outlawed or restricted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. Root material and extracts thereof is obtainable through various European smart shops.
- "The Catholic church is a beautiful theory for Sunday, the iboga on the contrary is the practice of everyday living. In church, they speak of God, with iboga, you live God" (Nengue Me Ndjoung Isidore, ecumenical Bwitist religious leader)
- Erowid Tabernanthe iboga Vault
- Plants of The Gods by Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hofmann (Healing Arts Press, 1992)
- Adam, Eve and Iboga, Giorgio Samorini. (Originally published in Integration 4: 4-10)
- The Bwiti Religion and the psychoactive plant Tabernanthe iboga (Equatorial Africa), Giorgio Samorini. (Originally published in Integration 5: 105-114)
- Pharmacodynamics and Therapeutic Applications of Iboga and Ibogaine, Robert Goutarel, Otto Gollnholfer and Roger Sillans (Originally published in Psychedelic Monographs and Essays, 6:70-111 (1993).
- The Religion of Iboga or Bwiti of the Fang, P. Barabe. (originally published as "La religion d'Eboga ou le Bwiti des Fanges", Med. trop. 12(3):251-257, (May/June) 1982)
- Iboga Therapy House, A non-profit organization dedicated to exploring and facilitating the therapeutic use of ibogaine