Dr. Martin Polanco
I just Experienced an Ibogaine Treatment, Now What?
Ibogaine is a truly miraculous psychedelic medicine, though it is not a magic pill that solves all the physical and mental problems of a person. Ibogaine is extracted from the iboga root bark, from the Tabernanthe iboga plant that grows in Central West Africa. Iboga root bark has historically been used in initiation and healing rituals by the Bwiti from Gabon. In the 1960’s iboga was discovered accidentally by Howard Lotsof as a substance that reversed the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and removed cravings for opioids. More recently ibogaine has been shown to be effective in the treatment of conditions like addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Ibogaine produces a physically and psychologically profound experience, it functions as a catalyst with the power to reset the brain and produce deep levels of introspection. Ibogaine journeys can be very strong, heavy, intense and fascinating. You may experience multisensory hallucinations, a heavy pulsation of energy in the body, intermixing and heightened thoughts, voices, intense emotions, distortions in vision, and see geometrical shapes and fractal patterns.
Research shows that ibogaine stimulates the growth of new neurons and promotes the brain’s ability to modify connections and rewire itself. Ibogaine resets the brain to a healthy state, where the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are restored to balance. Ibogaine also helps in regulating dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain, which are affected by mood disorders, these chemicals are associated with mood-stabilizing, pleasure and feelings of well-being.
The healing effects of ibogaine also include the psychedelic experience where there’s an experience of unity with spirit, and a witnessing of old trauma and habits, allowing for conflicts to be resolved and feelings to be experienced. Ibogaine also provides an awareness and clarity into how to change your life.
Research demonstrates that psychedelic use can increase neuroplasticity in the brain, which refers to the brain’s ability to change and reorganize itself. Following an experience with Ibogaine, for a period of time afterwards people describe feeling more open to change and less encumbered by their old thought patterns, self-beliefs, negative habits, fears, doubts, and other hindrances in their life.
Ibogaine has a long lasting effect, once the acute ibogaine experience has ended, it stays in the body in the form of nor-ibogaine, stored in the fat and the liver. Fatty tissue slowly releases it throughout the next weeks and months. This long-lasting effect can be seen as “a window of opportunity,” a time of increased brain plasticity that allows easier access to starting new habits, ending unhealthy habits and forming new behaviors and ways of thinking. There’s a clarity felt into your sense of self and what’s most congruent and authentic within you and in your life.
The “window of opportunity” generally lasts for a period of 2 weeks to 2 - 3 months after an ibogaine experience. While integration typically extends months or sometimes even years after a powerful medicine experience, it’s especially important to take advantage of this crucial time period immediately after the experience to solidify new habits and set the foundation for lasting positive change.
Integration is the application of the insights gained on your ibogaine experience into your daily life. It is where the old parts of yourself meet and transform into the new you. It may mean an unlearning of old ingrained habits and beliefs, replacing them with positive ones, exploring new passions and interests, and seeking deeper, more authentic relationships.
You can start planning for integration prior to your ibogaine treatment by considering the following steps:
Start journaling about your experience before, during and after the treatment. Write down your feelings, thoughts, perceptions, conversations, explorations, meaningful quotes and intuitions.
Have a daily practice, where you include meditation, contemplation, introspection (this can be done on your own and/or with a coach) Even if you do this only for 15-20 min a day where you have time to process your ibogaine experience.
Develop an action plan, implement and apply your insights and discoveries. Describe in your plan what new habits you’ll start including physical, spiritual and emotional changes you’d like to implement.
Revise which old patterns need to be let go of, negative or unhealthy attitudes, limiting beliefs and/or complaining.
Practice and revise your action plan, reinforce your new habits, set your new healthy standards for living, for being in relationships.
Integration is key for a long lasting beneficial healing experience after ibogaine treatment. Without integration you risk missing out on the vast majority of the benefit of the healing effects of ibogaine and of your experience. You risk wasting time, effort, energy, and money for little to no long-term results, and you risk creating more psychological instability and problems in your life.