Ibogaine is a purified extract from the root bark of tabernanthe iboga, a perennial shrub that grows in the understory of tropical rainforests in central West Africa.
It has a long history, but a very brief summary is provided here to recognize and honor some of the people who have paved the way for the healing of many people, including our friends, family and clients around the world.
Bwiti is a syncretic church that formed in Gabon during the early 20th century, and has since spread to various parts of Africa and the world.
Originally, Bwitists were Gabonese villagers who left their homes because of the religious pressures imposed by French missionaries. Deeper in the jungle they encountered communities of pygmies who had been using iboga for millenia in ceremonies of healing and rites of passage. The various sects of Bwiti have adapted the ritual in the own ways. Today, Bwiti is one of the three official religions in Gabon.
Although ceremonies are different from group to group, it is generally held that that iboga can carry the banzi, or initiate, into the realm of the spirits in order to communicate with their ancestors directly and ask for healing or knowledge.
Howard Lotsof first encountered ibogaine in 1967. At the time, he was 19 years old and involved with the drug culture in Staten Island and New York City. When a friend offered him ibogaine hydrochloride, he decided to take it, not knowing much about it, except that it was an extract of a powerful African psychotropic.
After an uncomfortably long trip, Lotsof decided that he would never take ibogaine again, until he realized that although he’d been almost an entire day without taking heroin he wasn’t experiencing any withdrawals. He was even more impressed that he had no desire to use it any more.
Lotsof went on to spend the better part of his life pushing for the availability and legitimacy of ibogaine’s use as an addiction interrupter. He held several patents, and although he was academically trained in film, contributed greatly to the preclinical and anthropological research available on ibogaine treatment. He did that while remaining strictly loyal to the ethics of harm reduction and drug user rights activism, maintaining close bonds in all communities that his work touched.
Dr. Ken Alper, of the NYU School of Medicine, has remarked that it was truly incredible how much Lotsof was able to accomplish during his lifetime.
Addict Self-Help Groups
Some of the early pioneering work in ibogaine treatments was done in addict self-help groups, especially in Holland through the partnership of Lotsof and a man named Nico Adrians.
– Sara Glatt
– Dr. Deborah Mash
– Stan Glick (18-MC)
– Ken Alper
Global Ibogaine Therapist Alliance (GITA)
– Howard, conferences