Iboga and Ibogaine
September 18, 2003 1:36 AM   Subscribe

Tripping on iboga: author Daniel Pinchbeck describes his experience with the psychedelic drug tabernanthe iboga, which is used in the rituals of the Bwiti in West Africa. Ironically, the active chemical in iboga, the indole alkaloid ibogaine, is said to be useful in the treatment of drug addiction (PDF.)
posted by homunculus (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A very intriguing substance. I've read Daniel Pinchbeck's book Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism and I must say it takes you on a fascinating, and radical, journey.
posted by Onanist at 2:19 AM on September 18, 2003

Ok, not that I believe what I'm about to say is true, but just to go out on a tangent... I have read theories that the connections between brain cells are small enough to be attuned to fluctuations in the quantum vacuum of space and that this might explain some 'psychic' phenomenon as an overlapping of human consciousness with quantum physics. Perhaps taking these psychedelic drugs warps your mind's normal stream of consciousness and makes it more susceptible to these perturbations of the quantum realm, thus bringing us more in tune with our own 'psychic' abilities. I like the idea at least, even if there's no real scientific basis for it.
posted by PigAlien at 5:59 AM on September 18, 2003

Man! That's completely freaky! Even the name "PigAlien" is, like, really out there. Think about it man; the aliens would be like those dudes from "V," but they'd have funny noses and curley tails and shit! Do we have any Fritos left?
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:39 AM on September 18, 2003

Ibogaine sounds interesting. Thanks for the post, homunculus. It reminded me to dig up this favorite anecdote of mine, told by Michael Harner about his Ayahuasca trip. Here's the punchline:

''I was now eager to solicit a professional opinion from the most supernaturally knowledgeable of the Indians, a blind shaman who had made many excursions into the spirit world with the aid of the ayahuasca drink. lt seemed only proper that a blind man might be able to be my guide to the world of darkness. I went to his hut, taking my notebook with me, and described my visions to him segment by segment. At first I told him only the highlights; thus, when I came to the dragon-like creatures, I skipped their arrival from space and only said, "There were these giant black animals, something like great bats, longer than the length of this house, who said that they were the true masters of the world." There is no word for dragon in Conibo, so "giant bat" was the closest I could come to describe what I had seen.

He stared up toward me with his sightless eyes, and said with a grin, "Oh, they're always saying that. But they are only the Masters of Outer Darkness."

He waved his hand casually toward the sky. I felt a chill along the lower part of my spine, for I had not yet told him that I had seen them, in my trance, coming from outer space. I was stunned. What I had experienced was already familiar to this barefoot, blind shaman. "

posted by troutfishing at 7:48 AM on September 18, 2003

The human mind is a funny thing.
posted by trondant at 7:58 AM on September 18, 2003

One of the most bizarre bits of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is early on when Thompson claims that addiction to Ibogaine is the real reason that Ed Muskie stumbled and fell behind George McGovern in the primaries. I assume he's talking out of his ass there, but it makes for fun reading.
posted by COBRA! at 8:37 AM on September 18, 2003

Here's a list, current as of Novemeber 6, 1997, companies, within and without the borders of the United States, which sell it. Any MeFi member lab rats? If so, let's be penpals. Here's the New York University School of Medicine's November 6--I'm detecting a pattern here here!--1999 Conference on Ibogaine. Judging from the Bibliography, here's certainly enough research interest, as does--crappy Microsoft product fans take note--Rick Doblin's Powerpoint presentation at the Iboga and Ibogaine Conference, New York City, 5/5/03. I don't know if I would agree with his three basic points in general. And here's Erowid Drug Slang & Terminology Vault. No Ibby mention. Heh.
posted by y2karl at 9:48 AM on September 18, 2003

In an LA Weekly article from last month Daniel Pinchbeck describes a clinic in Mexico which utilizes ibogaine to treat addictions and his encounter with the “spirit of iboga” while on the stuff.
posted by euphorb at 11:24 AM on September 18, 2003

According to one shamanic plant specialist at a local herbalist, Ibogaine's is considered one of the more benign entheogenic personas. Salvia Divinorum, on the other hand, is regarded as one of the angrier.
posted by y2karl at 11:33 AM on September 18, 2003

I used to think the "Carlos Castaneda Jr" thing was much cooler than I do now. Wasn't till my very last excursion into recreational psychedelics that I really had to confront just how very deeply these substances can mess you up. Saw one of my best buddies--even more experienced than me on this front--basically get picked up shaken like a rag doll in a puppy's jaws. In one night, I saw someone almost willfully ruin a relationship that's now become a long-term happy marriage, permanently damage his relationship with his parents, and almost put us both in jail (not just for overnight).

Funny thing is, I still think there are important components of my mindset, today, that are purely due to my experiences with mind-altering substances. I don't, overall, regret any of it, or even wish I hadn't done it. (Well, except that last time.) Of all the things I did in my youth, though, that I used to think were really cool--and that I now know were the equivalent of running down the middle of a highway at midnight--arrogantly dabbling in psychoactives ranks right up there at the top.
posted by LairBob at 12:23 PM on September 18, 2003

Have you seen Deliverance, Mayor Curley? I can squeal like a pig, and there ain't nothin' alien about it!
posted by PigAlien at 2:27 PM on September 18, 2003

But do you have a purty mouth?
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:22 PM on September 18, 2003

Thanks for the links, everyone. Iboga sounds like a particularly interesting and useful chemical. I'm going to have to read Pinchbeck's book (I still want to read John Horgan's latest too. So much to read...)

Note to self: do not do hallucinogenics with PigAlien (nothing personal, I just can't abide squealing while tripping.) ;)
posted by homunculus at 4:20 PM on September 18, 2003

Did you wait until exactly 420 to post that, homunculus?
posted by PigAlien at 7:08 PM on September 18, 2003

[this is good] - nice post homunculus.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:05 PM on September 18, 2003

It was an accident, PigAlien, I swear!

Whoa, I'm suddenly seeing skulls in the top corner of the page... must be a flashback...
posted by homunculus at 9:22 PM on September 18, 2003

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