What to Know About Iboga Plant Medicine
Iboga is a powerful entheogen(meaning God-within) that comes from the Apocynaceaefamilysuch as Tabernanthe Iboga, Voacanga Africana and Tabernaemontana Undulata. These psychoactive perennial shrubs are located deep in the African tropical forests. The shamanic“Bwiti” practices use these herbs to aid health to a series of physical, emotional, and psych-spiritual ailments. The spirit of this medicine has medically been known to be effective in treating addictive tendencies and opioid addictions. Westerners are becoming drawn to working with these natural healing modalities as conventional routes fall short. These plants offer a powerful way of alternative healing to addictive treatment and psycho-spiritual intent. The demand for iboga facilitators, healing retreats, and detox centers are flourishing to meet the demands of the addictive ailments plaguing the culture of the West.
Throughout the millennia, the ritualistic use of iboga served the African tribes as a rite of passage. This particular medicine is vastly different making it multiple times stronger than any other visionary plant medicines like psilocybin mushrooms, peyote, or ayahuasca. It is one of the oldest used medicines on the planet. The spirit of the plant requires immense preparation to screen yourself for a safe and powerful visionary experience in advance to embarking on a journey. Without proper preparations, iboga can cause fatalities so taking actions to proper medical protocols is paramount for profound and deep shamanic healing and awakening. Here are some guidelines to get the most out of this life-changing experience.
Iboga is Dangerous For Those With:
- With Pregnancy
- major respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder
- neurological/ heart conditions
- cardiac issues including history of heart attacks, embolism, abnormal heart rate, arrhythmias, bradycardia, and prolonged QT interval
- kidney function
- impaired liver
- epilepsy/ seizures
- any MAOI
- any SSRIs
- active panic attacks
- history of mania
Please let your facilitator know if you have any of these conditions above and be completely transparent allowing safety to be a priority.
In the weeks before an iboga healing ceremony, it’s imperative to take precautions in preparing yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The more prep work you do, the safer and influential your experience will be.
Medical Screening and Why?
This plant medicine is to be taken very seriously and getting an EKG and liver panel will be able to assure a smooth and safe ceremony. This medicine can cause complications with the heart and liver requiring attention and intention to have all arrows pointing in a healthy direction. Most deaths that occur from the use of “holywood” have the highest risk for individuals with addictive tendencies who were taking higher doses than an individual taken in a psycho-spiritual context.
Rest & Relaxation
Iboga requires an immense amount of energy and can last for 36 hours peaking for at least 12 hours. It also may reduce one’s ability to sleep for up to 48 hours. Be sure to get as much sleep beforehand and take as many naps as possible. Be gentle with yourself and nourish the body with restorative yoga and stretching. No rigorous exercising, be loving and kind to your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs to create a profound transformation.
Dietary Guidelines & Performance Boosters
During pre-ceremony preparations, boost the adrenals, liver, and mineral reserves. Magnesium and sea minerals are essential to overall relaxation and can be used during pre, during, and post-ceremony. Magnesium is essential, taking 250mg a day supports maintaining electrolyte balance and nervous system. Bloating and uncomfortable gas may occur with certain forms of magnesium.
At least 2-3 days before iboga ceremony, (longer the better) avoid using any substances like alcohol, psychedelics, stimulants, and anything that will put stress on your adrenals and liver. Taking these precautions seriously will enhance your overall experience. Avoid eating heavy foods containing high levels of fat, or dense meats to allow your body to feel lighter. Iboga can cause mild constipation and recommend avoiding laxatives with stimulants. Some other preventative care can be established beforehand like taking probiotics.
What is Dis-ease & Healing?
The Bwiti culture understood holistic healing to be inclusive of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and have used iboga as a rite of passage for bringing this heal-thy tool to their community. It is said in the West, our society has lost our ways of establishing a holistic rite of passage and is the reason why we are plagued with psychological illness epidemic leaking into all ways of our humanness. This medicine was used to provide an avenue for one to face their darkness with the guidance of their ancestors.
What is Suffering & Fear?
The suffering one may endure in an iboga ceremony is said to be when someone chooses to fight the medicine. The ego creates the path of suffering and is a direct reflection of how you show up in life. The Bwiti culture says when you experience suffering you experience how your ego projects future suffering while resisting the present moment. What you resist, persists. Iboga teaches you about death and rebirth, how to die and how to live; illuminating how to navigate the depths of your psyche in order to reveal limiting beliefs and to heal the trauma that has been an affliction in your life. Some say because of how powerful iboga is, it must be scary. This is only if your mind wants to allow it to be scary. Iboga is a teacher that allows you to be with yourself long enough to awaken to one’s true divinity and reveals the mirroring effect of life.
Iboga ceremonies are facilitated by the Bwiti shamans called Nima. A Nima has been working with iboga for as long as 10 to 20 years. An initiate can only become a Nima when the medicine tells their Nima, it is time to be. Working with“holywood” is very complex and requires as much studying as a Western doctor. It is more technical than learning how to play music, knowing how-to guide, and being able to tend a fire. The only way one becomes a Nima is to be whole, complete, and perfect in their full expression of divinity.
The music used in ceremony induces psychedelic visions which regulates one’s sense of time and heartbeat. The variations of tools that create music are the Mougongo, brooms, and whisks producing polyrhythms. This experience can cause purging, physical discomfort, and nausea. Below are other instructions for creating a focused and optimized journey.
Practice Meditation & Contemplation
Breathing is the most important aspect one can do while in the medicine world. Remember to use the power of your breathe throughout the experience. If you are an experienced meditator, this will support your journey to remain a level of equanimity even in turbulent and difficult times. The lines of dream and reality begin to blur in the most positive way and being able to remain calm will allow an immense amount of unfolding. If you have ever done Vipassana then you will have a good foundation to build on.
The journey you are embarking on is a deep unfolding of your psyche and having questions prepared will help drive the visions and journey to best support your experience. Every person will have a different experience and being open to not having expectations, to surrendering into the mystery can be valuable in order to let go. Practicing exercises like guided visual meditations of surrendering and letting go of who you are can be great ways to psychologically and spiritually attune yourself to the death-rebirth process. Fear is an emotion that may arise and hold on instead of surrendering can make the process uncomfortable as you shift into a near-death experience.
Useful ways of remaining calm, especially as your senses become heightened, would be to use smells like lavender. Abstain from synthetic fragrance and scented lotions as they could be irritating. Massage oil and coconut oil can be beneficial for creating an optimized experience.
Post- Ceremony Integration
Studies show that an effect of the medicine is an increase in ATP which fuels the mitochondria, so you might feel a little tired after but you will get a huge boost following. The adrenals and liver may function differently from lack of sleep causing fatigue and a boost after.
The use of CBD can be a wonderful integrative tool for the nervous system, physical pain, and inflammation. THC can be a valuable integrative tool used within caution. Microdosing is best and is gentle with using THC even if you are an experienced user.
Additional Post Ceremony Items
This deep journey into the psyche and one’s divine nature will surface and release old trauma and shift one’s worldview. It is imperative to make time for self-reflection after the ceremony to receive and embody new ways of being. Be gentle with yourself for 2-3 weeks and notice your sensitivity to intense environments, sounds, and smells.
Utilizing a journal or voice recording one’s revelations can be a huge support to the integrative process. The integrative process is 90% of the work while the ceremony being 10%. Surround yourself with loving and empathetic people, avoid large crowds as this sacrament is powerful for opening up energetic and psychological fields. A trusted counselor, spiritual adviser, or coach can optimize your awakening to remain permanent.
At first, it may seem difficult to record insights and as the days progress it will become easier and may come more rapidly so retaining and writing down as much as possible will allow you to have a reference to continue to grow from. These insights can support you on your life’s path and doing this courageous work is worth remembering.
Iboga remains in your system weeks after. During your integration process continue to avoid alcohol and stimulants. It is recommended to avoid up to 3 months to get the most out of it, and this process can be more profound than the ceremony itself. You may not have a craving for alcohol, sugars, and carbohydrates and trust this is part of your integration process.
It is recommended to avoid other plant medicines at minimal a month after an iboga ceremony. Studies have shown many people being extremely sensitive and using other entheogenic plants can disrupt the integration process of iboga. This spirit requires a lot in the recovery process and does not get along well with other herbs and plants; holding this spirit in its highest reverence will continue to bring value into your life.