In the face of widespread drug prohibition in most of the world, unregulated medical treatments in other countries, and traditional shamanic cultures that do not provide diplomas or licenses in the same way, how do you go about finding a qualified iboga or ibogaine provider?
Sadly, prohibition is a great obstacle to advancing medical research on the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs; there is still much research and social integration needed as sacred visionary medicines flow into industrialized countries.
In the face of this challenge, you are going to want to conduct independent research, consult with the global psychedelic community, inquire for personal referrals, ask the right questions, practice critical thinking, fact check, and listen to your intuition. Here are some recommended steps to approach your research process.
1. Understand How these Medicines Work
Learn about how iboga and ibogaine work, and how they differ from each other. Try to understand some of the science behind how the medicines work, and some of the cultural context around how these medicines were traditionally used. The deeper your understanding of how these medicines work, the greater your awareness of how the medicine is working with you, to support healing on multiple levels.
2. Clarify What Kind of Experience You Want
Are you a healthy individual who is feeling called to have an authentic cultural experience with a living plant medicine tradition for spiritual purposes? Then perhaps a Bwiti initiation ceremony or psycho-spiritual retreat is the best experience for you. Or have you been struggling for many years with opioid addiction and need to have effective, targeted medical treatment to eliminate cravings and withdrawal symptoms so you can finally be on the road to sobriety? Then finding an ibogaine clinic or a traditional provider with a successful track record of helping clients with addiction recovery may be your best bet.
3. Know What Good Protocol Is
Once you have clarity on the kind of experience would best suit your needs, research what the best practices are for that service that would ensure the highest level of safety, comfort and successful outcome for participants.
Bear in mind that since iboga and ibogaine therapy are pioneering fields of addiction treatment, so some treatment providers may not have the latest scientific information. That being said, if you, as a treatment seeker, are empowered with knowledge about the medicines and good medical protocol, it will be easier for you to determine whether the provider or center is following clinical best practices.
4. Research Providers and Treatment Centers Extensively Online
Chances are, you are going to start with Google research, but you will need to go further than picking whatever website shows up in the first page of search engine results because they have good SEO. Look for any reviews that might be appearing in search results, and read both the positive as well as negative feedback.
Bear in mind that all the reviews online may not be accurate or unbiased, so it is a good idea to join online forums or Facebook groups related to iboga or ibogaine. Ask the community for information about the providers or centers you may be considering. Chances are one or more people in the community may have good feedback for you.
5. Contact the Provider or Treatment Center & Screen Them
Interview the provider on their knowledge of the medicine, their credentials and their treatment process. If you are already empowered with knowledge of best practices and clinical guidelines, you will be able to recognize if an important process is being omitted.
For example, a responsible ibogaine provider should request a proper psychiatric and physical screening, including stress ECG or 24 hour Holter monitor, a blood test (CBC), and a liver enzyme test (AST/ALT).
They will also need qualified medical support to interpret the ECG specifically for potential conflicts related to ibogaine, and they will need adequate emergency medical support during treatment. Avoid providers that may offer an alluring low price on journeys, but who have no qualified medical support involved. Medical support contributes to treatment costs, and it is essential.
During treatment, someone should be present at all times who is certified to perform CPR and work with an automated external defibrillator (AED). In the case of ibogaine treatment, an IV and heart monitoring is often necessary. It is ideal for a hospital to be fairly close by. Though ceremonies and treatments are generally safe with experienced providers and good screening, this is regarded as best practice.
If you are looking for an authentic Bwiti trained & empowered provider, please ask for clarification in regards to the lineage. Keep in mind that some iboga providers who appropriate Bwiti or traditional African imagery may not have been given the blessing to hold the medicine by any indigenous tradition.
Photo by E. Bast
6. Ask For References
This is a must. Iboga and ibogaine are powerful psychoactive medicines and adverse medical events or even death can result if improperly used, so you want to find out first hand about other clients’ experience working with that provider or treatment center. Former or current clients can provide valuable insight on whether they felt well taken care of, and give you tips on how to optimize your experience before, during, and after treatment.
7. Use Your Intuition
Negative reviews and bad press are extremely difficult to erase from the Internet. When reading about providers on the internet, bear in mind that even the best providers may have encountered problematic incidents when seekers were dishonest during the screening process, brought in contraindicated substances, or did not fully participate in the treatment process.
Any provider or center that has been in operation for a long time might have some negative reviews mixed in with mostly positive feedback. After conducting independent research and searching for personal references, you will also want to use your intuition to determine if a particular provider is right for you.
Photo Art by Sean Davis