Tabernanthe iboga: an African narcotic plant of social importance

Abstract

Tabernanthe iboga is an apocynaceous shrub native to the forests of Gabon and the northern Congo. First described in the late
1800’s, it has been reasonably well studied by botanists. The roots of T. iboga contain several indole alkaloids, of which
the most important, ibogaine, is a central stimulant and in large doses an hallucinogen. In Gabon, the roots are used in the
initiation rites to a number of secret societies, of which the Bwiti is most famous. The plant remains to this day a central
feature of local religion, and its spectacular effects have hampered native acceptance of Christianity in Gabon.

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