Latest developments in causes and treatments



A Psychoactive Plant From Africa Being Tested for Opioid Addiction Treatment

A plant used in ritual healing for centuries is showing promise for the treatment of opioid addiction. Ibogaine is made from the root of the iboga plant native to central Africa. A recent meta study found more than 1500 scientific studies involving ibogaine over the past three decades.

Quality research is hard to come by, however, because ibogaine is a Schedule I drug in the United States and research here has been limited. The film Of Night and Light: The Story of Iboga and Ibogaine premiered at the Tribeca Festival this year, sharing the decades-long struggle to use ibogaine for addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The evidence of successfully treating addiction with ibogaine is widespread but largely anecdotal. Clinics in Mexico have been treating addicts with ibogaine for decades. The main problem with using ibogaine to treat addiction is the side effects, which can include heart arrhythmia. It’s a “dirty drug,” says University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy professor, Brian Shoichet, by which he means you get a lot of interactions besides the one you want. 

Shoichet’s team is helping isolate the compounds in ibogaine that are binding with important receptors in the brain:

Our compounds mimic just one of ibogaine’s many pharmacological effects, and still replicate its most desirable effects on behavior, at least in mice.

The two most effective serotonin transporter (SERT) inhibitors were identified and then used in animal studies. “That’s when these drugs looked a lot more potent than even paroxetine [Paxil],” Shoichet said.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky looks poised to be the first state to invest in ibogaine research, according to a recent article from NBC News. The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Committee is supporting allocating $42 million in opioid addiction settlement funds to conduct research on ibogaine.

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published December 21, 2023.


“Three Decades of Research on the Development of Ibogaine Treatment of Substance Use Disorders: A Scientometric Analysis,” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, November 2023.

“Tribeca Film About Ibogaine: A Revolutionary Treatment For Addiction And PTSD?” Forbes, June 2023.

“Psychedelic Inspires New Treatments for Addiction and Depression,” USCF Research, May 2023.

“Could a little-known psychedelic drug treat opioid addiction? Kentucky wants to find out.” NBC News, December 13, 2023.

Image Copyright: nsdefender.



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *