The Evolution of Our Story
Our journey began in 2006 when Clare Wilkins took over management of a high-turnover clinic originally named the Ibogaine Association approximately 8 months after her treatment for methadone addiction. Pangea was founded and operated in Tijuana, Mexico, a colorful and turbulent city of extreme tensions, due to unjust border laws at the height of drug war violence. We averaged about three clients per week, with a high staff to client ratio. Although our doctors were formally trained they were naïve to the experiential aspects of ibogaine, addiction, nutrition and trauma, not to mention psychedelic medicine.
The treatment model we inherited is similar to that still used by many ibogaine clinics today. Clients arrived on Monday for a 5-day treatment, and underwent further blood work, a medical evaluation, and a clinical history by an MD. That evening they were administered a test dose, followed by a large single dose of ibogaine hydrochloride.
Multiple doctors were present throughout the night and into the next morning, and clients were attached to monitors that would set off alarms when oxygen levels or pulse fluctuated beyond certain parameters. Clients were constantly medically monitored.
We built upon the model that we inherited, gathering the best information we could access to improve treatment safety and efficacy, a commitment that we maintain. Yet, even with all of these precautions and medical supervision we experienced emergencies due to unseen factors and the potency of pure ibogaine hcl, especially working with a physically compromised clientele. Further, many people either did not experience the desired visions they sought as a “cure” or were unable to understand what they did experience; meanwhile the detoxification process could still be grueling, even with many boosters and supplemental medications.
Of course, during this time, many clients experienced intense epiphanies, some with visions that clearly explained the roots of their trauma by emphasizing their relationships with loved ones or relevant personal myths. Occasionally these included portentous visions of their own demise if they continued on the same path of self-harm, and many went on to improve their quality of life.
Yet amidst these apparent successes, we came to find that this model was not leading to sufficient long term benefits. In a 5 day period we could not begin to address the myriad factors, including chronic malnutrition, which underlie the states of disease and addiction being addressed. These are marked by neurological patterns and habits, indeed an identity, shaped over a lifetime by false and negative beliefs, poor diet, enculturation, trauma, and even undiagnosed brain injuries.
Habituations become deeply embedded and require vigilant daily awareness and practice to override default behaviors, along with nutritional, psychological and physical support to assist in the enduring task of lifestyle regeneration. We continually found that clients needed more time to integrate iboga and access other therapeutic modalities, and that nature’s healing is profound and can not be underestimated nor replicated.
Today, our work is dramatically different. Our main location is further south, a small subtropical fishing village on the central Pacific coast of Mexico. Nature dictates life here, with a symphony of plants, birds, insects, animals and cultural elements setting the pace. We find that this rhythm reflects and punctuates the individual awakenings that take place, and attunes one’s central nervous system accordingly.
When clients first arrive they are stabilized for several days, during which we initiate a transitionally cleansing diet and develop a personalized nutritional protocol. Iboga is introduced slowly and concurrently with psychotherapy and somatic therapy, allowing for deep and potentially fruitful self-reflection and awareness practices to occur. Over the course of days and weeks, iboga cultivates a mind state conducive to powerful realizations about one’s agency and responsibility, lifelong and ancestral patterns, as well as the ability to more clearly identify life’s obstacles and their purposes. Novel decision-making can then become a habit.
It is apparent that each individual has a unique psychological metabolism, meaning the ability and even probability of the emergence of painful unconscious material varies for everyone. For this reason, each client ultimately dictates the scope and pace of the treatment, as their goals have been established and agreed upon by all. Not everyone gets what they believe they want or need. In certain cases, other plant medicines and tools are used to facilitate a peak experience if it may be beneficial.
For the last 7 years we have not utilized the same degree of medical monitoring as in the Tijuana clinic; clients are continually tracked with repeated ecg’s and diagnostics and our meticulous dosing protocol has proven safer thus far. During this time we have facilitated many successful treatments without an adverse episode, and we have worked with clients whose conditions are often exclusionary factors for ibogaine treatment. In fact, in many cases, we have seen these risk factors improve over the course of treatment. We have found that with a fastidiously individualized dosing protocol, proper preparation, diet & nutrition, repeated ecg’s and sufficient time, most of the medical equipment we relied upon became unnecessary.
We are currently focused on supporting research and education through our collaborations with ICEERS and the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance. We are actively seeking international collaborations with groups most traumatized and disenfranchised both in the West and globally, particularly Indigenous and People of Color and their communities and advocates. If you belong to such a group and would like to begin a dialogue or need any further information, please reach out to us.