What is Ibogaine, and why does Charlie Sheen’s ex want to do it?
A hallucinogen long used in shamanic and spiritual practices, Ibogaine is a non-pharma prescription for addiction
BY SOUL’S CODE — Brooke Mueller is the ex-wife of Charlie Sheen who called 911 a couple of Christmas holidays ago in Aspen claiming that the Two and a Half Men star he was threatening her with a knife (listen to the tape here). Since then, they have both done revolving doors through rehab — and Mueller’s latest attempts and failures at sobriety are a highlight reel on Paris Hilton’s new reality TV show on the Oxygen network.
Mueller’s latest stab at AA-style 12 Steps has apparently failed again, and the gossip site TMZ reports that she made plans to fly to Cancun to undergo Ibogaine therapy.
Ibogaine is intense. It strips one bare of psychological defenses. It is also illegal in the U.S., which is why American addicts fly to places like Mexico, Colombia and Brazil for treatment.
Does Brooke have the psychic resilience and self-awareness to take a deep-dive into an Ibogaine trance, or will she shut down and have a bad trip? Will putting Ibogaine in this woman be the equivalent of filling a VW Beetle with jet fuel?
UPDATE: TMZ reported that Charlie Sheen retrieved his ex Brooke from Mexico in a private jet because he thought Ibogaine treatment was so dangerous she might die. Note, the issue isn’t Ibogaine itself but Brooke Mueller’s emotional depth and resilience.
Perhaps the first time that Ibogaine (or “Iboga”) was put out there in American popular culture was in Rolling Stone magazine writer Hunter S. Thompson’s book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.
Thompson satirically suggested that a Brazilian doctor had gotten the Democratic front-runner for president that year hooked on the drug. “It is entirely conceivable — given the known effects of Ibogaine — that (Edmund) Muskie’s brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations at the time; that he looked out at that crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people, and that his mind snapped completely when he felt something large and apparently vicious clawing at his legs.”
While Ibogaine is indeed a hallucinogen, Thompson got one thing wrong: it is not addictive. In fact, recovery circles across North America are now using it on the sly as a cure for addiction to drugs or alcohol.
The cutting-edge prescription for addiction currently promoted by the medical establishment is Topiramate, an anti-convulsion medication with questionable efficacy.
But Iboga is not approved by the U.S government. It’s a free-growing plant that has been used in West Africa as a sacramental substance, and cannot be patented like a synthetic drug. No wonder it’s illegal. “Ibogaine has really become notorious because it didn’t originate in a lab, but in the counterculture,” Stanley Glick, the director of the Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience at Albany Medical College, told the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Ibogaine alongside drugs like ecstasy and LSD with “high potential for abuse” and “no known medical value.” There are also reports that patients in Europe, where Ibogaine therapy is legal, died because it aggravated their heart conditions.
Both of those factors make it difficult for psycho-pharmacologists to win research grants. But a privately-funded research organization in Massachusetts, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Research, is currently conducting a long-term study of the effect of Iboga on heroin addicts.
Hunter S. Thompson got yet another thing tangled about Iboga: It’s from Africa not Brazil. In fact, it is processed into a brown powder from the bark of a root grown in Gabon (population: 1.5 million).
It has been used for centuries as a healing plant and in religious rites by the Bwiti people. In 1962, Howard Lotsof, a heroin addict, got some Ibogaine from a chemist friend of his for a psychedelic trip. He woke up from the Ibogaine miraculously devoid of any desire to use heroin. His brain was apparently reset, and he reported no withdrawal symptoms.
The most popular proselytizer of Iboga in the West today — four decades after Thompson introduced it to a mass audience — is a British documentary filmmaker named David Graham Scott, whose “Detox or Die” is YouTube viral phenom.
Hardcore scientists speculate that Ibogaine binds with the brain’s opiate receptors to pre-empt cravings.
But users argue that the underlying magic of the substance is spiritual: “Ibogaine allows one to ‘die’ of our former selves and be reborn clean and addiction-free,” one San Francisco Bay Area woman with a psychology degree who has tried Iboga told Soul’s Code.
How much does it cost? Has it worked for you?
The motto for this site is everyone’s a guru. We mean that Soul’s Code is a community platform where people can share their personal solutions for self-growth and peak experiences. As we have virtually no in-house experience with Ibogaine, we invite you to share yours below — and unlike on Facebook, you can Comment anonymously: