U.S. Government Sets Sight on Ibogaine to Treat Addiction as Drug Deaths Soar

Ibogaine treat addiction - GCI Content Hub - Global Cannabis Intelligence

A non-psychoactive form of ibogaine could be used to treat substance addiction, amidst increasing awareness of the medicinal use of psychedelics.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) partners with neuroscience company Delix Therapeutics to study a non-hallucinogenic form of the psychedelic compound, ibogaine.

NIDA’s new collaboration strives to tackle the mounting national substance addiction crisis, Benzinga reports.

Recent data, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, bears the worrying finding that national overdose deaths exceeded 100,000 for the first time, over a 12-month period.


What is Ibogaine?

Natural ibogaine is a psychoactive compound native to the African iboga shrub. Compelling preliminary data shows the substance’s potential efficacy in treating substance addiction disorders.

However, treatments using natural forms of iboga can be emotionally gruelling due to the intense hallucinations (of up to 9 hours) which the compound can induce. It can also be physically taxing, with some users experiencing cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

The substance created by Delix’s chief innovation officer David E. Olson, called DLX-7, is both non-psychoactive and non-toxic. The absence of hallucinogenic side effects increases the medicine’s potential to treat substance addiction on a large scale, by addressing the needs of patients for whom mind-altering effects are undesirable.

In conversation with Forbes, Olson explains that Delix used ibogaine as the foundation for their treatment because of its brilliant efficacy. By modifying the compound to remove its psychedelic-inducing effects, what’s left are the essential, addiction-curbing features of the substance.

Olson goes on to say that preclinical results published in 2020 demonstrated that DLX-7 reduces alcohol-and heroin-seeking behaviour. He believes this compound has potential as a novel treatment across a variety of substance abuse disorders.


Government Endorsement Legitimises Ibogaine

Naturally derived ibogaine is already of substantial interest for addiction treatments. Bienestar’s chief medical officer, Dr. Bruno Rasmussen, is a trailblazing psychedelic specialist who has used ibogaine for substance abuse disorders in Brazil since 1994.

The U.S. government’s backing of the long-standing use of ibogaine is an exciting development which is set to propel advances in treatment and patient access.

Despite the expanding applications of the substance’s use in addiction therapy, ibogaine in its natural form is currently a Schedule I drug in the U.S., meaning it is seen to have “no accepted medical use.”

Regardless, both NIDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration have expressed approval of a White House proposal to streamline the process of researching the therapeutic potential of scheduled drugs.

The U.S. government’s interest in furthering ibogaine research is a step towards acceptance of treatments once-considered taboo. This development will likely raise public awareness and promote a cultural shift that advances patient access to other useful medical treatments to which psychedelics prove effective.

Initial data from NIDA’s venture with Delix are forecast to be available in early 2022.

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