Ibogaine & Mood Disorders

According to the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Report published by the World Health Organization, depressive disorders comprise a leading cause of the world’s disease burden, and that by 2020 depression will become the second largest burden on global health and healthcare systems. Other psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress, social anxiety disorder, etc. affect a growing part of the population in the United States1 and elsewhere.

There is a strong correlation drawn in scientific literature between deficiencies in certain endogenous neurotransmitters and these disorders. Most pharmaceutical medications prescribed to treat these conditions are designed to modulate various neurotransmitter systems to try to restore balance, especially dopamine and serotonin.

There is evidence presented from observational trials that, in addition to interrupting substance use disorders, ibogaine can help to improve depression2 , anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other quality of life indications3 for an extended period of time after ibogaine administration.

Ibogaine therapy’s success in treating these conditions may be based on several factors. Firstly, its psychological effects have been reported to help people to view difficult experiences in an objective way, and to help facilitate the closure of unresolved emotional conflicts.4

Ibogaine has also been demonstrated to modulate the uptake of various neurotransmitter systems, restoring a level of balance, and to be neuroprotective of dopamine receptors, which play a role in mood disorders. Because ibogaine is known to increase the level of serotonin in the brain it can be dangerous to administer ibogaine in conjunction with SSRI or MAOI-based medications that are commonly prescribed to treat depression. You can read more about these considerations in Chapter 7 of GITA’s Clinical Guidelines for Ibogaine-Assisted Detoxification. Please consult with your therapy provider about your particular medication.

While ibogaine therapy has been demonstrated to show some success in the treatment of the indications listed above, there is much less known about its interaction with other neurological and psychiatric disorders that require ongoing treatment, such as such as cerebellar dysfunction, epilepsy, psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, organic brain disease and dementia. In order to ensure safe treatment, these diagnoses are widely considered exclusion criteria for ibogaine therapy.

  1. Facts & Statistics. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. http://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics 

  2. Ibogaine: Complex Pharmacokinetics, Concerns for Safety, and Preliminary Efficacy Measures. Mash, Deborah C., et al. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 25 January, 2006. 

  3. Life after Ibogaine: An exploratory study of the long-term effects of ibogaine treatment on drug addicts. Bastiaans, Ehud. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. C. Kaplan. November 2004. 

  4. The Healing Journey. “Ibogaine: Fantasy and Reality.” Claudio Naranjo. New York, 1974. Read full chapter

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