Ibogaine - Cures Addiction
Hallucinogen May Cure Drug Addiction
February 18, 2004 at 8:58 p.m.
BAY AREA (KRON) -- Drug addiction has been the plague
of modern America. But that could now change forever.
What started as a rumor may now actually be an
incredible breakthrough in the battle against
addictions of all kinds.
Ibogaine has a number of strikes against it:
* It doesn't come from a modern laboratory, but
from an ancient plant.
* It was discovered not by a scientist, but by a
* It is mildly hallucinogenic and completely
illegal in the United States.
However, when it comes to curing addiction, a
reputable scientist believes ibogaine is nothing short
of a miracle. "I didn't believe it when I first heard
about ibogaine. I thought it was something that needed
to be debunked," admits Dr. Deborah Mash, professor of
Neurology and Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at
University of Miami.
Dr. Mash is one of the few scientists in the world to
study ibogaine, a mild hallucinogen that comes from
the root of a shrub found in West Africa and was
rumored to have the amazing ability to help drug
addicts kick their addiction.
"This didn't come from the Salk Institute, this didn't
come from the Scripps Institute. This came from a
junkie who took a dose to get high himself. So the
original observation came from the underground," says
Observations from this particular underground are not
likely to gain the respect of mainstream society, and
ibogaine was no exception.
That first report came in 1962. But decades would pass
with little scientific investigation. There were
decades during which the cost of addiction in terms of
medical care, lost productivity, crime and
incarceration rose to $160 billion a year.
The human toll was impossible to calculate.
Patrick Kroupa was a heroin addict for 16 of his 35
years. "It was a very high level of desperation. I had
been pretty successful in my life, I had accomplished
a lot of things I wanted to do, and then repeatedly I
just watched everything burst into flames and
disintegrate because I could not stay off heroin,"
confesses Patrick. "It gets very tiring living like a
slave because you keep chasing this and it's like
you're not getting high, it's just 'I must do this
every single day just to get normal so I can
Like most addicts, Patrick tried to quit. But
treatment for addiction is notoriously ineffective.
Only one in ten addicts manages to return to a
drug-free life. Most stay dependent on illegal drugs
or their legal substitutes, like methadone.
"And I was a spectacular failure at every possible
treatment modality, every paradigm, every detox, every
therapy, nothing ever worked," admits Patrick.
Even as Patrick Kroupa despaired of ever kicking
heroin, Dr. Mash was petitioning the Federal Food and
Drug Administration to allow a scientific test of
ibogaine, which by this time had been classified as a
"schedule one" drug on a par with heroin. In 1993, the
FDA approval came through.
"We were established, we had a team of research
scientists, doctors, clinicians, psychiatrists,
toxicologists and we wanted to go forward with this,"
describes Dr. Mash.
But even with FDA approval, Dr. Mash could not get
funding to look into what was, after all, a
counter-culture drug. In order to complete her
project, she had to leave South Florida and go
offshore, to the island of St. Kitts.
In 1998, clinical trials finally got underway.
Patients were given carefully prepared oral doses of
ibogaine. What happened next astounded the sceptical
"Our first round in St. Kitts, we treated six
individuals, and I will go to my grave with the memory
of that first round," says Dr. Mash.
It quickly became apparent that one dose of ibogaine
blocked the withdrawal symptoms of even hard-core
addicts and was amazingly effective for heroin, crack
cocaine and even alcohol.
There are two reasons why: The first, science can
measure. The second remains a mystery.
Dr. Mash admits, "I was really scared. I questioned my
own sanity on numerous occasions."
"I don't like the word 'hallucinogen,' but indeed,
ibogaine alters mental state. And what it seems to do
is it puts people into a four to six hour state of
almost an active dream, it's like a lucid dream." she
But as Dr. Mash was about to discover, during that
dream state, something extraordinary happens. "We knew
ibogaine was effective for blocking opiate withdrawal,
we saw it diminish the desire to use alcohol. And we
saw the cravings for cocaine blocked. I was hooked,"
Patrick admits, "It's literally like a miracle.
Nothing has ever worked and this just did." He was one
of the 280 people in Dr. Mash's trial of ibogaine.
"Patrick was one of the worst opiate addicts, worst
heroin addicts that I have ever enountered in my
life," says Dr. Mash. His arms still bear the scars of
years of heroin addiction, and he knows only too well
what happened when the flow of drugs into those arms
was interrupted. "When you're going through
withdrawal, you're sweating, you're shaking, you're
freezing, you're hot, it feels like your spine is
being smashed in a vise, it's pain," describes
Within 45 minutes of taking ibogaine, he actually felt
his addiction leaving him. "That moment is the first
time in about 10 years that I had actually been clean.
Not just detoxed, but clean. That was it. That was the
first time. That was like a miracle," says Patrick
That was four years ago. Patrick Kroupa has not
touched drugs since. "I'm saying this having been on
heroin for my entire adult life. I mean, 14 to 30 is a
long time," he says.
On one level, Dr. Mash understands some of what
happens. Ibogaine in the body is metabolized into
another compound called 'noribogaine.' Noribogaine
appears to reset chemical switches in the brain of an
"The noribogaine resets that, so it resets the
opiates, blocks the opiate withdrawal, diminishes
craving and the desire to use, and it elevates mood,"
say Dr. Mash.
But of the "visions" that people see, Dr. Mash
understands very little -- only that they are somehow
significant to the outcome. "It's as if the plant is
teaching you something fundamental about who you are
as a person and why you've got yourself locked into
this intractible pattern of behavior," she says.
Ibogaine will not work for everyone. And even for
those for whom it does work, it is not a "magic
bullet." "You need treatment, you need social workers,
you need case management, you need medication,
psychiatry, you need the whole boat of professionalism
around this," says Dr. Mash.
But for Patrick Kroupa and many of the other addicts
in the trials, ibogaine was a miracle. "It's like if
you suffer from terminal cancer and somebody goes by
and says, 'Oh, yeah, we cured that. We passed this
thing over you and it's gone,'" he says.
Even the reserved scientist believes this ancient drug
from Africa holds astounding promise for the modern
world. "I think we're going to see fantastic numbers.
I think these numbers are going to be stunning," says
Dr. Mash will present her findings to the Food and
Drug Administration next month. She hopes the FDA will
eventually authorize further testing, based on her
results. In the meantime, ibogaine remains illegal in
the United States.
Ibogaine is advertised on the internet, but there is
no guarantee of the quality unless it's given under
medical supervision. And for now, that can only be
For ibogaine detox information,
contact Healing Transitions at 1-888-426-4286
The story is from KRON 4http://kron.com/Global/story.asp?s=%20%201652207
Copyright 2004, KRON 4. All rights reserved.