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  • Dr. Martin Polanco

How Ibogaine helps treat opiate addiction


Opiates are narcotics that act as depressants on the central nervous system. Opiates come from opium, which is produced by the poppy plants or can be derived from semi-synthetic alkaloids. Some of the opiates are heroin, prescription painkillers, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone. Opiates suppress pain, reduce anxiety and at high doses produce euphoria. Some are taken by mouth, smoked or snorted, although heroin addicts may prefer to use intravenous injection which gives the strongest and quickest pleasure.


Addicts take much time obtaining the drug and recovering from its effects, give up many things in their lives for the sake of the drug, and continue to use it despite the serious physical and psychological harm. Those who take opiates for a long time cause damage to their brain, nerve receptors adapt and begin to resist the drug, which leads to needing a higher dose to obtain the same effect. The body adapts and develops a tolerance to the use of substances and when the drug leaves the body there’s a withdrawal reaction and brain receptors must readapt to the absence of the drug.


The abuse of opiates has been widely recognized as a global health problem affecting people from all society levels. Between 26 and 36 million people worldwide abuse opiates. Over two million adults in the United States suffer from substance abuse problems related to the abuse of opiate painkillers.The American Society of Addiction Medicine reports that about 75 percent of all people suffering from opioid addiction disease end up switching to heroin as a cheaper source of opiates.


Ibogaine therapeutic healing effects in the treatment of opiate addiction was first discovered in the 1960’s by Howard Lotsof. He then began encouraging researchers, public officials, and pharmaceutical companies to study ibogaine’s potential as an addiction interrupter. Since the 1980’s ibogaine has been used therapeutically for the treatment of opiate addiction, multiple ibogaine clinics offering detoxification therapy started to appear worldwide.


Research shows that a single administration of ibogaine has the ability to remove the symptoms of drug-withdrawal and to reduce the drug-craving for a period of time after administration. Ibogaine works as an addiction interruptor, it has a reset effect on the brain and nervous system. The effectiveness of ibogaine for opiate addiction treatment is based on how it works in multiple receptor sites of the brain, having effects both physiologically and psychologically. Ibogaine resets the neurotransmitter receptors to a novice state and has demonstrated neuroprotective effects on dopamine receptors, dopamine is the ‘feel good’ chemical.


Iboga adjusts the brain chemistry so that the opiate addict does not experience withdrawal symptoms or cravings after a treatment, a process of detoxification of the body and the psychological mind. Ibogaine therapy for drug addiction is a detox treatment that includes the administration of ibogaine, within a safe and controlled environment, providing alternative therapies to support the drug addict in the detox process. Ibogaine promotes the release of neurotrophic factors in some regions of the brain, it repairs and protects the damaged neural circuits affected by opiate addiction.


Opiate addiction is a chronic condition due to the long-term effects it has on the reward system of the brain, changing the brain and its chemistry. Ibogaine can interrupt this condition by restoring the brain to a healthy balanced state, promoting the neuroplasticity in the brain. Ibogaine healing effects stay in the body for weeks after its initial administration since it is converted into noribogaine by the liver and stored in the body. Noribogaine has similar anti-adcitive effects as ibogaine, it has a longer-acting nature contributing to the rewiring of the affected areas of the brain damaged by opiate abuse.


Martin Polanco M.D., has more than 15 years of experience in providing ibogaine therapy for opiate addiction. He was the founder and past medical director of Crossroads Center in Mexico, specializing in the use of ibogaine and 5-MeO-DMT for addiction treatment. His work focuses on a holistic approach for the treatment of substance abuse, with a strong focus on safety, effectiveness, medical screening and the use of various alternative support therapies.


Throughout his work experience he has seen how some clients stop using opiates completely after a single ibogaine addiction treatment while others may need aftercare to help them make the needed changes in their life. Dr. Polanco reminds clients post-treatment on the importance to have support from family, friends and support groups to continue their path of healing.

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