The human brain is a frontier where billions of neurons work tirelessly to help us develop, remember, and survive. Scientists have found that psychoactive substances like ibogaine and psilocybin could assist in boosting neurotrophic factor signaling.
What does this mean, and could psychedelics help treat mental health disorders? Recent research and anecdotal reports suggest positive applications humanity hasn’t understood before. These results could pave the way for future alternative treatments worldwide.
Ready to dig deeper into the human psyche? Let’s explore this possibility in depth and determine the differences between psilocybin and ibogaine for specific therapeutic applications.
What Are Neurotrophic Factors?
Psychology is a fascinating field packed with mystery and constant discoveries that help us understand the human brain better. Throughout history, our species has explored and tried many methods of treating mental, physical, and emotional health.
Neurotrophic factors are specific polypeptides (molecules) involved in nerve growth and nervous system development. They play a vital role in cell regulation and migration, synaptic plasticity, and long-term memory formation.
Scientists started studying these molecules in the 1930s. Over time, they found irregular brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) in people with various central nervous system diseases.
More recent research proves that regulating BDNF results in multiple medical advantages. Neurotrophic therapy could help treat central nervous system diseases like Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and depression and promote better neuron health.
Where, then, do psychedelics like ibogaine and psilocybin fit in? Let’s find out.
What Is Ibogaine? A Brief History
Tabernanthe iboga is a rainforest shrub hailing from the heart of western Africa. Natives in the Bwiti religion discovered a psychoactive substance called ibogaine in its roots. They started using it during initiation rituals and healing ceremonies for its therapeutic and spiritual properties.
The plant was a mystery to western civilization for most of history because it remained sacred to central African tribes and religions. It garnered attention in America in the 1960s, around the same time mushrooms like Penis Envy increased in popularity.
Much of the knowledge we have on ibogaine today is thanks to a man named Howard Lotsof. After discovering its therapeutic benefits in the early 1960s, he became addicted to heroin with no hope of recovery.
Expecting to experience temporary relief from his withdrawal symptoms, he noticed something astounding: after his psychedelic trip, his problem was gone.
Lotsof started researching and advocating for the use of the plant, particularly in addiction therapy. Sadly, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) prohibitions and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) halted his plans in the 1960s and 70s.
The regulations slightly hindered his progress but didn’t stop him. In 1986, he received patents to implement ibogaine treatment trials in various substance abuse cases, including cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine. He continued to advocate for its use before passing away in 2010.
Since then, more scientists have been interested in understanding this phenomenon and using it to help treat other addictions. At the beginning of Lotsof’s research and tests, some people had already experienced the same recovery he had.
Ibogaine is a banned Schedule I substance in most places worldwide but is medicinally legal in South Africa, Brazil, and New Zealand. Some countries, like Spain, have started clinical trials, while others regulate it under strict conditions.
In recent years, we’ve seen piqued interest in psychedelics like Penis Envy mushrooms and LSD. More places are decriminalizing them and implementing medicinal regulations, and ibogaine might join them soon.
How Does Ibogaine Work?
Since Howard Lotsof’s discovery, many more people have experienced the benefits of the iboga shrub. How does it work, and how does it differ from other psychoactive substances?
It appears to affect dopamine receptors, decrease hunger, and alleviate other areas. Anecdotal reports state that ibogaine could:
- Relieve thirst, appetite problems, and tiredness
- Treat urinary infections, coughs, and conjunctivitis
- Act as a stimulant and aphrodisiac
- Alleviate fever symptoms
- Provide pain relief
Ibogaine works similarly to psilocybin in Penis Envy shrooms, producing different effects depending on the dosage. Lower amounts could boost energy levels and stimulate brain activity, while higher levels might cause hallucinations.
Some health concerns exist, and scientists have noticed adverse reactions in a handful of cases. Side effects may include:
- Low blood pressure
- Breathing difficulties
- Heart complications
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Irregular heartbeat
Ibogaine can also build up in fatty tissues, resulting in heart issues because of blocked potassium channels. In extremely rare cases, some people have died or experienced severe hallucinations from toxic levels of ibogaine.
Comparing Ibogaine and Psilocybin
What are the primary differences between ibogaine and psilocybin? Both have neurological applications and can contribute to improved regulation of neurotrophic factors.
The table below compares various characteristics and effects of each compound. Note that some of these are anecdotal, and both substances are still illegal in most parts of the world.
Scientists don’t condone the use of these substances. For medicinal and research purposes, most emphasize supervised sessions under strict regulations, which could produce specific outcomes. Under no circumstances should someone use them alone or illegally.
|Primary use (traditional)||Religious ceremonies and healing||Religious rituals, spiritual connection, and therapeutic application|
|Primary medicinal use (today)||May treat addiction withdrawal symptoms||May alleviate depression, anxiety, and some neurological disorders|
|Primary recreational use (today)||Stimulant, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, psychedelic||Euphoria, relaxation, visual and auditory distortions or hallucinations|
|Possible side effects||Seizures, prolonged hallucinations, heart complications, dizziness||Nausea, impaired cognition and concentration, weak muscles, paranoia, prolonged hallucinations|
|Suggested standard dosage (euphoric and hallucinogenic)||Initial dose: 0.87–1 mg/kg
Potential substance abuse treatment dose: 17 mg/kg
|10–35 mg (1–3.5 g)|
|Suggested micro dosage (therapeutic)||4–8 mg||0.1–0.35 g|
Can Ibogaine Help in Treating Addiction?
Despite some reported adverse effects, ibogaine has been successful in treating addiction. Howard Lotsof’s legacy has inspired further research, such as a recent study showing positive therapeutic potential.
The outcomes also showed that ibogaine increases neurotrophic factor activity in some brain areas. It specifically targets the ventral tegmental, vital in regulating cognition, motivation, and reward.
These effects of ibogaine might assist people recovering from substance addiction. Scientists and therapists need to conduct further research, but the compound could soon join other psychedelics in revolutionizing alternative medicine.
Check out our Fungushead blog for further fascinating information on psychedelics.
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