Skip to comments.Hallucinogen May Cure Drug Addiction
Posted on 02/20/2004 4:42:26 PM PST by neverdem
BAY AREA (KRON) -- Drug addiction has been the plague of modern America. But that could now change forever. What started as a rumor may now actually be an incredible breakthrough in the battle against addictions of all kinds.
Ibogaine has a number of strikes against it:
It doesn't come from a modern laboratory, but from an ancient plant. It was discovered not by a scientist, but by a heroin addict. It is mildly hallucinogenic and completely illegal in the United States. However, when it comes to curing addiction, a reputable scientist believes ibogaine is nothing short of a miracle. "I didn't believe it when I first heard about ibogaine. I thought it was something that needed to be debunked," admits Dr. Deborah Mash, professor of Neurology and Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology at University of Miami.
Dr. Mash is one of the few scientists in the world to study ibogaine, a mild hallucinogen that comes from the root of a shrub found in West Africa and was rumored to have the amazing ability to help drug addicts kick their addiction.
"This didn't come from the Salk Institute, this didn't come from the Scripps Institute. This came from a junkie who took a dose to get high himself. So the original observation came from the underground," says Dr. Mash.
Observations from this particular underground are not likely to gain the respect of mainstream society, and ibogaine was no exception.
That first report came in 1962. But decades would pass with little scientific investigation. There were decades during which the cost of addiction in terms of medical care, lost productivity, crime and incarceration rose to $160 billion a year.
The human toll was impossible to calculate.
Patrick Kroupa was a heroin addict for 16 of his 35 years. "It was a very high level of desperation. I had been pretty successful in my life, I had accomplished a lot of things I wanted to do, and then repeatedly I just watched everything burst into flames and disintegrate because I could not stay off heroin," confesses Patrick. "It gets very tiring living like a slave because you keep chasing this and it's like you're not getting high, it's just 'I must do this every single day just to get normal so I can function.'"
Like most addicts, Patrick tried to quit. But treatment for addiction is notoriously ineffective. Only one in ten addicts manages to return to a drug-free life. Most stay dependent on illegal drugs or their legal substitutes, like methadone.
"And I was a spectacular failure at every possible treatment modality, every paradigm, every detox, every therapy, nothing ever worked," admits Patrick.
Even as Patrick Kroupa despaired of ever kicking heroin, Dr. Mash was petitioning the Federal Food and Drug Administration to allow a scientific test of ibogaine, which by this time had been classified as a "schedule one" drug on a par with heroin. In 1993, the FDA approval came through.
"We were established, we had a team of research scientists, doctors, clinicians, psychiatrists, toxicologists and we wanted to go forward with this," describes Dr. Mash.
But even with FDA approval, Dr. Mash could not get funding to look into what was, after all, a counter-culture drug. In order to complete her project, she had to leave South Florida and go offshore, to the island of St. Kitts.
In 1998, clinical trials finally got underway. Patients were given carefully prepared oral doses of ibogaine. What happened next astounded the sceptical scientist.
"Our first round in St. Kitts, we treated six individuals, and I will go to my grave with the memory of that first round," says Dr. Mash.
It quickly became apparent that one dose of ibogaine blocked the withdrawal symptoms of even hard-core addicts and was amazingly effective for heroin, crack cocaine and even alcohol.
There are two reasons why: The first, science can measure. The second remains a mystery.
Dr. Mash admits, "I was really scared. I questioned my own sanity on numerous occasions."
"I don't like the word 'hallucinogen,' but indeed, ibogaine alters mental state. And what it seems to do is it puts people into a four to six hour state of almost an active dream, it's like a lucid dream." she describes.
But as Dr. Mash was about to discover, during that dream state, something extraordinary happens. "We knew ibogaine was effective for blocking opiate withdrawal, we saw it diminish the desire to use alcohol. And we saw the cravings for cocaine blocked. I was hooked," she says.
Patrick admits, "It's literally like a miracle. Nothing has ever worked and this just did." He was one of the 280 people in Dr. Mash's trial of ibogaine.
"Patrick was one of the worst opiate addicts, worst heroin addicts that I have ever enountered in my life," says Dr. Mash. His arms still bear the scars of years of heroin addiction, and he knows only too well what happened when the flow of drugs into those arms was interrupted. "When you're going through withdrawal, you're sweating, you're shaking, you're freezing, you're hot, it feels like your spine is being smashed in a vise, it's pain," describes Patrick.
Within 45 minutes of taking ibogaine, he actually felt his addiction leaving him. "That moment is the first time in about 10 years that I had actually been clean. Not just detoxed, but clean. That was it. That was the first time. That was like a miracle," says Patrick
That was four years ago. Patrick Kroupa has not touched drugs since. "I'm saying this having been on heroin for my entire adult life. I mean, 14 to 30 is a long time," he says.
On one level, Dr. Mash understands some of what happens. Ibogaine in the body is metabolized into another compound called 'noribogaine.' Noribogaine appears to reset chemical switches in the brain of an addict.
"The noribogaine resets that, so it resets the opiates, blocks the opiate withdrawal, diminishes craving and the desire to use, and it elevates mood," say Dr. Mash.
But of the "visions" that people see, Dr. Mash understands very little -- only that they are somehow significant to the outcome. "It's as if the plant is teaching you something fundamental about who you are as a person and why you've got yourself locked into this intractible pattern of behavior," she says.
Ibogaine will not work for everyone. And even for those for whom it does work, it is not a "magic bullet." "You need treatment, you need social workers, you need case management, you need medication, psychiatry, you need the whole boat of professionalism around this," says Dr. Mash.
But for Patrick Kroupa and many of the other addicts in the trials, ibogaine was a miracle. "It's like if you suffer from terminal cancer and somebody goes by and says, 'Oh, yeah, we cured that. We passed this thing over you and it's gone,'" he says.
Even the reserved scientist believes this ancient drug from Africa holds astounding promise for the modern world. "I think we're going to see fantastic numbers. I think these numbers are going to be stunning," says Dr. Mash.
Dr. Mash will present her findings to the Food and Drug Administration next month. She hopes the FDA will eventually authorize further testing, based on her results. In the meantime, ibogaine remains illegal in the United States.
Ibogaine is advertised on the internet, but there is no guarantee of the quality unless it's given under medical supervision. And for now, that can only be done overseas.
For ibogaine detox information, contact Healing Transitions at 1-888-426-4286 or www.Ibogaine.net
(Copyright 2004, KRON 4. All rights reserved.)
and now she's a pusher.
Even druggies who want to quit, are afraid to do so, because of the DT's, tremors, sweats, pain, etc.
She even cautions that this has to be a part of a full regimen of therapy etc.
Anything to get people off drugs, even if it is through the use of a single dosage of one drug, is something that should be studied for efficacy. Isn't the whole point to stop the usage?
So tell me something I don't already know.
AH PITY TH' FOO' WHUT PUT HALLUCINOGENS IN MAH DRUGZ!
O'Hearn, Elizabeth; Long, David B.; Molliver, Mark E. Sch. Med., Johns Hopkins Univ., Baltimore, MD, USA.
NeuroReport (1993), 4(3), 299-302.
Ibogaine, an indole alkaloid, has been proposed for treatment of drug addiction, yet its mechanism, site of action, and possible neurotoxicity have not been detd. Since neuronal injury is known to activate neuroglial cells, the authors investigated potential neurotoxic effects of this drug in rats by examg. expression of specific glial markers. After treatment with ibogaine (100 mg kg-1 i.p.; 1-3 doses), the authors obsd. increased cytochem. markers in both microglia (OX-6, OX-42, W3/25) and astrocytes (GFAP), assocd. with striking morphol. changes in these cells. Activated glial cells were restricted to longitudinally oriented, parasagittal stripes within the vermis of cerebellar cortex. The ibogaine-induced activation of cerebellar glial cells is highly suggestive of neuronal degeneration, most likely of Purkinje cells.
Xu, Zengjun; Chang, Louis W.; Slikker, William, Jr.; Ali, Syed F.; Rountree, Robert L.; Scallet, Andrew C. Department of Pathology, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA.
Toxicological Sciences (2000), 57(1), 95-101.
Ibogaine (IBO) is an indole alkaloid from the West African shrub, Tabernanthe iboga. It is structurally related to harmaline, and both these compds. are rigid analogs of melatonin. IBO has both psychoactive and stimulant properties. In single-blind trials with humans, it ameliorated withdrawal symptoms and interrupted the addiction process. However, IBO also produced neurodegeneration of Purkinje cells and gliosis of Bergmann astrocytes in the cerebella of rats given even a single dose (100 mg/kg, i.p.).
Here, we treated rats (n = 6 per group) with either a single i.p. injection of saline or with 25 mg/kg, 50 mg/kg, 75 mg/kg, or 100 mg/kg of IBO. As biomarkers of cerebellar neurotoxicity, we specifically labeled degenerating neurons and axons with silver, astrocytes with antisera to glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and Purkinje neurons with antisera to calbindin.
All rats of the 100-mg/kg group showed the same pattern of cerebellar damage previously described: multiple bands of degenerating Purkinje neurons.
All rats of the 75-mg/ kg group had neurodegeneration similar to the 100-mg/kg group, but the bands appeared to be narrower. Only 2 of 6 rats that received 50 mg/kg were affected; despite few degenerating neuronal perikarya, cerebella from these rats did contain patches of astrocytosis similar to those obsd. with 75 or 100 mg/kg IBO. These observations affirm the usefulness of GFAP immunohistochem. as a sensitive biomarker of neurotoxicity. None of the sections from the 25-mg/kg rats, however stained, were distinguishable from saline controls, indicating that this dose level may be considered as a no-observable-adverse-effect level (NOAEL).
Ibogaine neurotoxicity assessment: electrophysiological, neurochemical, and neurohistological methods.
Binienda, Zbigniew K.; Scallet, Andrew C.; Schmued, Larry C.; Ali, Syed F. Division of Neurotoxicology, FDA/National Center for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR, USA.
Alkaloids (Academic Press) (2001), 56(Ibogaine), 193-210.
A review discusses the interactions of ibogaine with various neurotransmitter systems. Electrophysiol., neurochem., and neurohistol. tools were used to evaluate ibogaine neurotoxicity. Electrophysiol. studies indicated that ibogaine stimulates monoaminergic neurons and may lower the threshold for cocaine induced electrog. seizures. Ibogaine interacts with several neurotransmitter-binding sites, produces significant alterations in neurotransmitter concns. in different regions of the brain, and also induces immediate early genes. Neuropathol. investigations showed that ibogaine administered at high doses produces selective neuronal degeneration. Thus, ibogaine might have potential use for the treatment of drug addiction, but may also be neurotoxic at high doses.
I'm not aware of hallucinogens being physically addictive.
The war on drugs is insane too, reminding me of a dog chasing its tail, but that's another story.
A single dose of ibogaine in a controlled clinical setting is certainly not abuse and definitely worth investigating in a time of AIDS with all the innocent people threatened from the sexual behavior of injecting drug users.
The story doesn't say how funding was obtained. Hopefully, the announcement of the FDA findings will be simultaneous with publication. Thanks for the abstracts. Did you find them at PubMed?
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