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  • Writer's pictureDr. Martin Polanco

Is ibogaine safe? Everything you need to know about its effects.

Ibogaine treatment administration is usually conducted by clinics in various parts of the world. In Mexico, Dr. Martin Polanco has been working with ibogaine for more than 15 years, providing ibogaine addiction treatment for mental disorders and psychological health with a strong focus on safety. Ibogaine is a potent substance extracted from the root bark of the Thabernanthe Iboga plant, it is not a recreational drug and does not cause addiction.

It is not recommended for individuals to take ibogaine without appropriate support.

Ibogaine is safe when administered with proper preparation and supervision. Ibogaine may have adverse effects and can be unsafe for those with certain heart conditions and chronic illnesses, therefore careful screening and medical monitoring during treatment is essential. Since ibogaine increases the electricity in the heart possibly causing bradycardia, arrhythmias and low blood pressure, Dr. Polanco provides continuous cardiac monitoring during treatment.

As part of the medical screening prior to treatment, to ensure safety, complete urine and blood tests are conducted to check liver and kidney function since some addiction clients may have hepatic health issues. The various tests and medical history provide the necessary information that allow the clinic and staff to provide the most safe treatment and individualized approach to each client.

There are cases in which ibogaine may not be safe to take, as mentioned before, some include pre-existing cardiac conditions, chronic illnesses and mental disorders so clients are well informed about it during the initial interviews and medical history-taking. Previous to treatment clients are also informed about the side effects and contraindications related to taking ibogaine and what to avoid during and pre/post treatment.

Dr. Polanco’s model of treatment emphasizes on safety, careful screening of clients for both physical and mental health conditions, appropriate medical testing and having staff with experience on ibogaine. Clients are also informed verbally (during phone calls and in person) and in writing about the side effects and the ways to be safe when taking ibogaine. Safety always comes first when providing an ibogaine treatment.

Some deaths have been reported in association with ibogaine, these incidents were attributed to pre-existing cardiac conditions, seizures resulting from acute withdrawal to alcohol or benzodiazepines and in other cases to the use of drugs while still under the effect of ibogaine. Ibogaine is safe when taken under experienced supervision with the appropriate monitoring. The adverse events that have been reported, based on information from the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance, are of around 0.23% from 1989 to 2006, 1 ibogaine-related fatality per 427 treatment episodes. It is notable that many people who seek out ibogaine are suffering from severe addiction to things like heroin or other opiates and that many of these deaths are due to withdrawal or existing health conditions.

The safety of an ibogaine treatment is based on the clinic’s treatment protocol, monitoring and provider's experience to make sure that clients have been thoroughly prepared, screened and are fully informed of ibogaine’s potent effects, side effects and contraindications.

Dr. Polanco is an ibogaine advocate, after many years of working with ibogaine, seeing the benefits of its therapeutic use and its potential to rebuild the lives of those suffering from addiction and mental illness. Ibogaine therapy is a promising tool for fighting the opioid epidemic, for treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It’s important to provide the public with all the information about risks and precautions when using ibogaine, and to share about how this remarkable plant has changed the lives of many clients.

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