Low Dose Ibogaine Therapy

Both Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease and Alzheimer’s Disease are chronic disorders with no known cure. Most neurodegenerative diseases require management with prescription medications that can have considerable side effects, which may cause a very poor quality of life for terminal sufferers. In turn, Ibogaine may be very benefical to those with degenerative neurological diseases.

Ibogaine is a naturally occurring psychoactive indole alkaloid derived from the roots of the African rain forest shrub Tabernanthe iboga. Ibogaine is part of the Apocynaceae family and traditionally used by the Bwiti, indigenous peoples of Western Africa; in low doses to combat fatigue, hunger and thirst. Use of higher doses of ibogaine is part of spiritual initiation ceremonies, and in modern times, used for addiction interruption.

A patent application was filed in 2005 for treating and preventing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and mild cognitive impairment with ibogaine.

Ibogaine increases levels of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in the brain (He & Ron 2006), and this appears to have neuroprotective properties that promote the survival of both dopaminergic and motor neurons (Bermingham et al. 2004; He and Ron 2006). GDNF can also cause sprouting of dopaminergic fibers and clinical improvement in experimental animal and human studies in which the test subjects had Parkinson’s Disease, with the resultant clinical improvement in symptoms (Love et al. 2005). GDNF has been shown to have potent neurotrophic factor in both rodent and primate models of Parkinson’s disease (Gill et al. 2003). Direct brain infusion of GDNF into the brains of five Parkinson sufferers resulted in a 39% improvement in the off-medication motor sub-score of the Unite Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) and a 61% improvement in the activities of daily living sub score (Gill et al. 2003). Positron emission tomography (PET) scans of dopamine uptake showed a significant 28% increase in putamen dopamine storage after 18 months, indicating a direct effect of GDNF on dopamine function. Furthermore, after one year, no serious clinical side effects were observed (Gill et al. 2003).

The use of Iboga alkaloid extract or Ibogaine would provide a longer term and much less invasive method of GDNF administration than direct brain infusion. Thus, further research on Ibogaine and GDNF is certainly warranted. Ibogaine therapy may offer a non-invasive and low-toxicity method of treatment for sufferers of this disease.

Ibogaine hydrochloride (ibogaine HCl) was first extracted from Tabernanthe iboga  in 1901. Research into the central nervous system and cardiovascular actions of ibogaine began appearing in scientific literature during the early 1900s.

These pharmacological, pharmacokinetic, chemical and behavioral studies led to the initial introduction of ibogaine in France during the 1930s, in the form of a pharmaceutical medication, introduced under the tradename Lambarene. Lambarene was marketed in France as a mental and physical stimulant, anti-depressant, and for healthy individuals during times of greater than normal physical or mental exertion.

Lambarene contained approximately 5-8mg. of ibogaine, per tablet (at a dose of 2-6/day= 10-48mg/day). Lambarene was prescribed in cases of depression, asthenia, convalescence, and infectious disease.  In Western Africa traditionally, people take up to 100mg for dancing, hunting & other physical activities.

Therapeutic application: Lambarène

It was during this period, in 1939, that a proprietary pharmaceutical preparation called Lambarène in honor of nobel peace laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, was first marketed in France: it was based on a dry pharmaceutical extract of roots of Tabernanthe manii, with a drug content of 0.20 g of extract per tablet (about 8 mg of ibogaine), whose therapeutic action, dosage regimen and effects were, according to package information, as follows: “a neuromuscular stimulant, promoting cell combustion and getting rid of fatigue, indicated in cases of depression, asthenia, in convalescence, infectious diseases, greater than normal physical or mental efforts by healthy individuals. 2-6 Tablets daily. Rapid and prolonged action, not followed by depression. May be administered to hypertensives.”

The fact that it was recommended for physical or mental efforts by healthy individuals rapidly aroused the interest of post-war athletes (Paris-Strasbourg walking race competitors, mountain climbers, cyclists, cross-country runners, etc.).

General

Thus, ibogaine appears to be a relatively nontoxic alkaloid in the dosage range of lambarene, particularly by oral administration, with a wide therapeutic index ranging from 10 to 50 mg as an antidepressant in humans and, from 300 mg to 1 g when used for its oneiric action, the toxic doses being similar to those of aspirin and quinine.