This is my attempt to explain Ibogaine therapy and associated concepts in plain language.


The most healthy function of the human body is sleep. It is especially important to the addict. When an addict stops "cold turkey" it is the healing benefits of sleep that can gradually, but eventually, return the brain to the pre-addicted state. In particular, it is Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that is the period of healing for the addict.. In every night's sleep the brain goes through cycles where the sleeper has a minute or two of REM and then an hour or so of deep sleep, a little more REM, more deep sleep. All night long. The neurotransmitter that is used in REM is Tryptomine. The brain uses Melatonin to trigger REM sleep. Then these substances are metabolized and they break down into their component molecules to be adsorbed and recycled again during the deep sleep period. The period of REM is the time when the brain takes a day's worth of input from all the senses and transforms them into knowledge. The brain also re-regulates all the chemicals in all its neurotransmitter systems. It is the natural process that a healthy brain uses for resetting the neurotransmitters to prepare the brain for another day of conscious brain function. The consequences of not getting enough REM sleep we all know as a groggy feeling where our minds seem cluttered and unable to function properly, our memory is faulty, decision making is poor and it is difficult to focus or concentrate. If you can't go back to sleep it can take hours or even all day to eventually recover. People who often don't wake up refreshed can use Melatonin at night to correct this problem.


For the addict, there is a problem with the neurotransmitter systems that have been tampered with by repeated use of addictive drugs. Tampering with brain chemistry can cause the neurotransmitters to become out of balance. A prolonged chemical imbalance of the brain can cause physical changes in the brain in order to compensate for that imbalance. Changes in neurotransmitter production or number of the cells that use certain neurotransmitters happen which then reinforce the addiction. Addictive drugs all have activity in the Dopamine and Endorphin systems in common. Each addictive drug has different specific effects so I will just use two examples to show what can happen to your brain chemistry when you take addictive drugs. Heroin can be used as the definition of addiction. When you take heroin (inject, smoke, snort, rub the end result is the same) you flood the brain with an outside source of something that looks like the neurotransmitter Dopamine. Do this enough times in a row and your brain will decide that it doesn't need to produce its own Dopamine and eventually will rely on the outside source. Keep doing heroin and your brain will start to lose its ability to make Dopamine. Now stop taking heroin and every nerve cell in your body will scream out its pain, even simple bodily functions like breathing and digestion press against nerves and therefore are painful, and without Dopamine you will notice this for the first time. Of course there's other bad things happening from heroin use as well. This is just to point out what a Dopamine related addiction is, and opiates cause it. The craving for the high of heroin happens because the Dopamine system has ties to the Endorphin system, and my second example. Cocaine can be used as the definition of craving. When you take cocaine (crack, powder, freebase, inject it's all the same poison). You force the brain to flood itself with Endorphins while it prevents the recycling function for this neurotransmitter from happening. The brain now has much more Endorphin than it would ever naturally have for any reason. It is much more than the brain can ever metabolize, leaving the remaining amount hanging around, while the brain is still pumping in more. The portion that gets metabolized breaks down into component molecules but can't get sucked back into the cells for recycling because that function is turned off by the cocaine. It stays in the brain's fluid between brain cells muddying the water. Keep using cocaine and you brain will begin to require higher levels of Endorphin to function and if it feels the level is too low, the addict will hunger for cocaine as the means to obtain the higher level. Cocaine is not Endorphin, but is associated with it in the mind by habit, so the craving is thought by the addict to be for cocaine.


Amphetamine will supply the cocaine addict with an outside source of molecules that resemble Endorphin and therefore satisfy the craving for cocaine. In multiple addictions the stronger addiction always wins. Then the addiction may shift to one that works like a Dopamine addiction except with Endorphin instead of Dopamine. Dopamine is also produced by the brain while on cocaine and can eventually create a Dopamine related addiction as well, although not as strong as with heroin. Using the legal addictive drugs, alcohol and nicotine, have a multiplying effect to create addiction with each other and in combination with illegal addictive drugs. Using an opiate while extra Dopamine is present in the brain speeds the onset of opiate addiction. This is why cocaine leads to heroin, which is the original "stepping stone" theory of addiction. A drug war bureaucrat took that theory and claimed that since heroin is harder stuff than cocaine and cocaine leads to heroin, then the much less hard marijuana must therefore lead to cocaine. What they call the "gateway" theory. However, using cannabis causes no direct action in the Dopamine system, nor the Endorphin system, so the theory has more to do with the folly of marijuana prohibition laws that put pot smokers in contact with dealers who may also deal addictive drugs. The neurotransmitter that is affected by cannabis turns out to be Tryptomine, because it makes the brain release large amounts of Melatonin. Since Melatonin triggers REM in a pot smoker enough to create a measurable "Alpha State" brainwave it can be said that not only is using cannabis not addictive but it is anti-addictive. That could be why the large majority of cannabis users don't go on to become addicted to other drugs. Pot, the anti-drug!


Tryptomine is a single molecule that is used in the REM cycle of sleep. It's activity is indicated by a particular brainwave pattern scientists call the "Alpha State." When some people eat a quantity of turkey and feel drowsy for an hour afterward it is because the meat contains Tryptophan. This is a short chain of a few Tryptomine molecules. Melatonin is a longer chain of tens of Tryptomine molecules and it cam give someone a long night of refreshing sleep. Conversely, when Melatonin is taken while in the sunlight, it gets rapidly broken down into Serotonin which is another neurotransmitter that calms and elevates your mood. Even with eyes closed, or at night, Melatonin will eventually break down into Serotonin and other component molecules. There is a psychedelic drug called DMT that is known for causing a very short-term but very intense psychedelic experience. DMT is a chain of hundreds of Tryptomine molecules. Now imagine a chain of tens of thousands of Tryptomine molecules, enough to be in REM for 8 to 12 hours before a cycle of deep sleep. This is the healing power of Ibogaine.


The length and intensity of the REM sleep created by Ibogaine is enough to correct the imbalances in the brain's neurotransmitter systems. After the Ibogaine wears off the heroin addict's brain can produce its own supply of Dopamine again, so there is no pain from withdrawal. The cocaine addict is able to properly metabolize Endorphin and has reversed the expectation of elevated Endorphin levels, so there is no craving. There will be cases of very severe addictions that are not completely reversed with a single Ibogaine treatment, where brain cells that use Dopamine have died off or cells that use Endorphin are altered. That healing at the cellular level has begun but will require more time for the body to rebuild. The brain grows new brain cells during the Ibogaine experience and will again upon re-treatment, but the physical healing has a huge head start and will continue every night as long as there is no more addictive drug use. There are also many cases where the physical addiction has been corrected with Ibogaine but, due to a long period of years of being an addict, a mental conditioning toward addiction could continue. This conditioning plus the lack of healing is why "detoxifying" drug addiction treatments, ones that merely get an addict past the worst part of withdrawal, often fail to break addiction. Ibogaine approaches this problem and not just the physical addiction. This is where the work of Ibogaine becomes more of a mystery. Ibogaine can be used in the practice of emotional counseling, like to help get over a childhood trauma. It can also help a person recover the personality or personal identity that existed before addiction took over. This is because of the nature of the Ibogaine experience. An Ibogaine patient does not hallucinate as with typical psychedelic drugs like LSD. When the eyes are open there may be a little visual distortion or seeing of colored light that isn't there in a dark room. The experience happens with the eyes closed and it is mostly images that the patient has actually seen, raw visual data from an entire lifetime that can now be accessed, which rapidly come and are replaced by more. The images may be thought-provoking themes needed for reconciliation of the mind and personality or a review of past decisions or even trauma that are calmly observed, as if from a safe distance or with an enlightened perspective. Today many Ibogaine treatments happen in two phases, the first treatment to recover physically from the addiction and again a week later, after the patient has had time to explore and reflect on how sobriety feels and what bad feelings remain, have a second treatment to address the psychological problems. In this way Ibogaine can be a powerful aid to counseling.