#49 “Should I take iboga”?

An acquaintance asked me last night: “Should I take iboga”? My automatic response to people asking this question is always immediately: No.

I then follow with conditional arguments and amendments to my answer. If you are asking the above question, if you even have to ask, then, you’re not ready to take it. I explained to him that iboga is not a recreational drug; it’s not like short-acting party drugs, particularly stimulants, instead lasts for days after ingestion. Psilocybin-based substances like magic mushrooms and truffles are feel-good drugs, blissful even. Iboga is harsh on the body and mind. After my last flood dose experience, I concluded that it’s not possible to have a “good” experience. Some people might; I can only speak from my own experiences. My experiences have been rough. There is vomiting, aches, pains, troublesome memories and emotions bubble to the top of my psyche, etc., in addition to its anti-fatigue properties, which means staying up for days on end. I recommend to anyone who is considering taking iboga that they have a very strong mind because sometimes you borderline or appear to have mental disorder during your experiences. I don’t see this as a bad thing; I’m never fearful that I will permanently lose my mind. Temporary unconstrained mental activity is the price one must pay to see and experience much of the other side of some veil, whatever that other side is or means. The weak-minded person will struggle with iboga’s effects. As well, the inexperienced drug user, especially the psychedelic sort, will definitely struggle because they are unaccustomed to or lack practice in drug states of consciousness.

The next thing I said to this person was do your homework. If you’re considering putting something in your body that will also affect your mind regardless of its duration, then, you must read and listen and watch as much content on the drug as possible. Consume personal stories on YouTube; listen to a podcast on the topic (I heard Iboganautics is great!); read “trip reports” on Erowid.org, academic journal articles on Google Scholar, journalistic pieces in online and print media, books on general and specific topics related to your substance; and so on. You might find out in your research that actually this experience isn’t for you. Further, if you don’t know why you’re considering taking iboga, then definitely hit pause and think things over for a long while. It’s ok for your why to be someone else’s why if it appeals to you. I met a woman at a retreat who told us that she was taking iboga as a last resort to help in her struggle with bulimia. If you don’t know why you think you should take iboga, and say for example you too have an eating disorder, and the bulimia story of someone you met touched you in some way, then you found a reason to take iboga. It’s okay to borrow or piggyback on others’ motives as long as you have 100% conviction in your decision. You must know why you do things, and iboga is no different from any other activity you do in your life. If you don’t know why you do something, why do it at all?

My own reasons are academic. I want to know how iboga does what it does, how it affects my mind/consciousness/perception. With that said, the first time I took it I had personal reasons and questions to which I sought answers. I knew after taking iboga for the first time that there was a grand mystery here, in my opinion, the mystery of such monumental significance, of proportions I cannot foresee nor yet understand. There is a mystery waiting to be unraveled and I doubt we’ll ever know the full story of iboga’s phenomenology and its potential applications to other facets of daily reality. In a nutshell, I take iboga because I’m curious to find out what it is, i.e. its metaphysical, ontological, even epistemological, status.

The next thing I recommended to this person is to take iboga at a retreat. This is an important recommendation for two reasons. First, I said this because he mentioned taking it by himself. Not a good idea, and I strongly disadvise one to do so. There are health risks involved and obviously he didn’t know this because he hadn’t done his research. You would know these things if you looked into the matter even for an hour. One must be in the presence of sober caretakers to make sure you don’t do anything stupid. Second, the retreat setting offers acclimatization to the Other Worlds elicited by iboga. You get this training experience from qualified sitters, guides, and shamans (if you’re lucky to take it with a real shaman), and you’re in the same boat as other first-timers or can pick up tips from repeat experiencers. Consider the retreat like a conference: you’re around people who are interested in or doing the exact same thing as you for an entire week or weekend. They are likely dealing with and healing the same or similar issues as you have.

I forgot to mention the most obvious pragmatic reasons why someone should definitely NOT take iboga. IF you have low blood pressure, heart or liver problems. Taking iboga will kill you. That’s all I need to say about that. Again, do your homework to find out more. IF you’re mentally unwell. I’m not talking here about feeling temporarily depressed or another mood that goes away in time; I’m talking about having a schizoid personality or you take prescription drugs to keep you relatively “together,” that is to say, function, in everyday normal society. It not only comes down to having a strong mind but also not being diagnosed with a debilitating disorder of some kind, for example, found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). IF you’re scared, unready, or unconfident to take it. These feelings are okay; you shouldn’t force it just because you want to see what I or others are talking about. Iboga is not a checkbox on a bucket list. Approaching it like this means you’ll most likely run into some issues or it’ll rattle you to your being’s core. I hope my words scare you; it’s a very serious topic because anything can and sometimes does go unexpectedly wrong. Being ready and confident doesn’t mean cocky. You should be as humble as possible, to accept whatever comes your way during the experience, and I suggest surrendering to the experience for first-timers.

I hope there is enough to chew on for those wondering whether they should take iboga. It’s a reality-shattering, even paradigm shifting, experience. You will be shown things that you push under your cognitive and emotional rugs, so to speak; mental files or life snippets that either need sorting or have needed sorting for a long time, and now, under lesser constrained conditions brought about by the iboga you are forced to confront them. Caveat emptor. If you do decide to take it, after all that I’ve said, I end this stream of consciousness with: iboga is hands down the most perplexing, thought-provoking, and transcendental experience I’ve ever had. In fact, after taking it one time, the first time, changed the course of my life.

See also: “Important Information For Those Thinking Of Taking Ibogaine

2 thoughts on “#49 “Should I take iboga”?”

    1. Thanks for the inspiration. Legit question to chew on. Hope I gave some good insights.

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