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Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

The plant medicine renaissance

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Oct 19, 2017 7:39 AM

Throughout Western culture, medical practitioners and the public alike are beginning to resort to plant based medicine. Rather than relying on chemicals and lab-formulated drugs, natural remedies are making a comeback. Iboga, a plant found among the Bwiti people of Gabon, Africa, helps with a plethora of medical conditions including mood disorders, mental health concerns, traumatic experiences, and addiction in various forms.

What is Iboga?

Iboga is a plant that grows along the West Central coast of Africa near Gabon. The revered story of its discovery remains that a man brought home a porcupine for dinner one night, and upon eating it, his wife underwent a cleansing and spiritual awakening. The couple returned to the place that the porcupine was found and discovered that it had been eating iboga root prior to its death. The individuals harvested the plant and brought it with them to their community where it has been used to initiate young people into adulthood for years. Iboga contains the raw form of ibogaine, which is a powerful psychedelic. This compound can be naturally harvested from iboga root where it is accompanied by other nutrients, or synthesized in a lab. Many native iboga users prefer to utilize the plant in its natural form. Roots are shaved and eaten as chips.

How Does Iboga Work?

Iboga works through the brain to stimulate neurons in particular patterns, depending upon an individual's body chemistry. It allows certain neurons to become more susceptible to change than they would normally be in adulthood so that traumatic memories can be consolidated, sorted through, and ultimately consume less space. This chance for a sort of cleaning in the brain allows behavioral patterns and abnormal brain functions to exert less control over a person. The plant has the capability to detoxify, clear out toxins, balance pH, and assist with overall wellness and fulfillment.

What is the Experience Like?

Iboga provides a different experience for everyone. Users typically describe a visionary experience during which life can be seen as if it was projected onto a screen. Many people recount being guided by the plant as they went back to difficult times and were able to see lessons from the past as clear parts of a movie. People are generally invited to communicate with a group as they experience these vivid hallucinations so that they can process through emotions as they occur. 

As a detoxification agent, iboga can stimulate some to sweat or vomit in order to clear out toxins. Most experience the intense visionary period followed by a time of drowsiness, during which guided meditations are popular. The following day after an iboga experience is often dedicated to restoration and integration for body and mind. Some believe that in order to get the most out of iboga, one must ingest it twice and have two complete experiences.

Is Iboga Safe?

The Bwiti people have been utilizing the iboga plant for years as part of their traditional ceremonies and healing arts. They teach that the root of the plant is used to get to the root of whatever is holding an individual back from living their fullest life. Shamanic facilities do exist to guide individuals through their iboga experience from beginning to end. Professionally trained staff members accompany individuals with support, guided meditation, and care.

Truly, iboga boasts some impressive qualities. As an increasing number of Western patients turn to iboga and other plants for medicinal care, there is unlimited potential to literally and figuratively return to the roots of alternative medicine. Exploring other cultures' philosophies and practices as they relate to societal phenomena like depression, anxiety, and traumatic childhood provides a host of unexplored and under-explored options.

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