#61 ep2.2_Build Up for Breakdown_Matt Cooper
Excellent chat with Matt Cooper today! For me, it’s always wonderful to speak with someone, an expert, like Matt about a topic I know so little about and that is directly related to my passion, that is, to decode and understand the iboga experience, especially its visionary experience side.
The inspiration for today’s episode was muscle cramps. When I take iboga, I get cramps in my legs and lower back for many reasons: perhaps this is due to not “reloading,” as Matt says, on vital nutrients before an experience, crossing my legs during the flood dose (which I’m going to stop doing), and lying down much of the days-long experience (I’m going to sit up or try to stretch during the recovery days after flood doses).
Related to cramps, I thought it was also necessary to speak with Matt about the nutritional aspects of cramps and muscles in general, since our body functions as well as we feed it. I wanted to know what psychedelic users, particularly iboga users, could consume to get the most out of their experiences, which of course is directly related to the foods one eats before, during, and after experiences. My research for this episode guided me toward Tricia Eastman’s articles on EntheoNation.com, to James W. Fernandez’s book about the Bwiti and their customs, in addition to many other sources listed below that contributed to our conversation.
Point 1: the first big key I’m taking away from our conversation regards salt and electrolytes. I’ve been recommended by retreat guides in the past to limit the amount of water/fluids prior to working with iboga. Understandable, since by drinking fewer fluids you’ll likely need to vomit less during the experience. From a nutritional and well-being perspective, however, Matt made me realize that adding a pinch a Himalayan or unrefined salt or a good quality electrolyte to my water will sufficiently give my muscles the water they need to make it through the journey. Increasing water levels at the muscle and micro-muscle level is for me like a camel filling its hump with enough water to make it through the desolate, unforgiving desert. The same can be said about iboga users: we must find ways to keep ourselves as nutritionally well as possible to make it through the mirage-filled desert and make it back to baseline reality in one physical and mental piece.
Point 2: Matt told a story about his purge-less ayahuasca experience, which he attributes to practicing proper nutrition, mindfulness, and exercise. Even though one of my friends did not purge either during our iboga experience together, the first thought I had when Matt said this was: if you ever take iboga, I want to know whether you throw up so we can compare your lifestyle, better than most people’s as it sounds, to the iboga experience in order to know whether your hypothesis stands up, that your healthy lifestyle is a factor in not vomiting during psychedelic experience known for their purgative effects. Additionally, Matt might be one of a few people who simply do not vomit on psychedelics regardless of his lifestyle, but I think it’s his lifestyle.
Point 3: I asked a very tough question, more like asking for his opinion, about whether the Bwiti eat pounded manioc and roasted peanuts (both high in magnesium and potassium) because of the metaphorical connotations of being pounded or breaking open the head as is said about the body on iboga, or, whether indigenous iboga users from Gabon had some kind of intuition that these were the foods they needed to recuperate from iboga ingestion. I have literally stayed awake at night thinking about this chicken-or-egg question: how did they know that those foods were high in magnesium and potassium, the exact minerals the body needs to protect the heart from QT prolongation and torsades de pointes? It is clear to me that we must do so much more research when it comes to proper nutrition to protect the body, to give the body an optimal chance of surviving and recuperating from iboga ingestion.
Point 4: … Which leads me to my next point: I would love to see a researcher of nutrition write the definitive book, encyclopedia, compendium, whatever, on psychedelic nutrition. There it is, take the idea and run with it, anybody, please, I will buy this book for myself and others and read it religiously. We need such a book, so users of specific plant-based and synthetic psychedelics know how to prepare and look after their bodies after their experiences. The mind gets a lot of attention; I’m thinking specifically of “integration,” post trip. But we must also integrate, or rather prepare and recuperate, our bodies into our experiences. To my knowledge, no body no mind. We should seriously consider more what happens to our body when we take psychedelics, and just like learning how to integrate lessons and insights from experiences into our daily lives, I believe there’ll be a spillover effect into our daily lives how we treat our bodies by practicing good bodily care when preparing and recuperating our bodies with psychedelic-specific nutrition and exercise.
Matt, I’m still very curious about the question I asked you: Are there nutrients that psychedelics (especially iboga) are known to deplete from the body? If you hear anything about this, please let me know and I’ll add an addendum to this stream of consciousness article. Thanks again Matt for an engaging chat about these relatively unknown fitness and nutritional topics we discussed related to iboga and psychedelics in general.
You can find Matt Cooper at the links below . . .
Rewire Performance: “Rewire is dedicated to helping athletes worldwide reach their potential. We bridge the gap between integrative health, strength & conditioning and sport science to provide a personalized blueprint for elite performance.”
References in preparation for and mentioned in this episode
Brown, David Jay (article): Optimal Health, Nutrition, and Psychedelic Drugs.
Eastman, Tricia (article): Iboga Preparation Guide – How to Get the Most From Your Healing Ceremony.
Fernandez, J. W. (1982). Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa. Princeton University Press.
Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance. Clinical Guidelines, Chapter 10: Preparation for Treatment.
Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance. Clinical Guidelines, Chapter 14: Interventions.
International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service (ICEERS). Iboga: Basic Info.
Kuypers, K. P. C. (2019). Psychedelic medicine: The biology underlying the persisting psychedelic effects. Medical Hypotheses, 125, 21-24.
The Third Wave Podcast. Transcript and Audio of . . . Making Psychedelics Part Of Your Fitness Routine – Matt Cooper.
In this episode, Matt and I spoke about the cytochrome P450 enzyme that is responsible for breaking down iboga’s alkaloids, such as ibogaine. Not only should certain foods not be in the body upon iboga ingestion because they interfere with iboga metabolization, but also, 5-10% of Caucasians lack this enzyme in the first place:
“Ibogaine (12-methoxyibogamine) is metabolized to its main metabolite noribogaine (O-desmethylibogaine; 12-hydroxyibogamine) (Mash et al., 2001). This occurs principally through O-demethylation by cytochrome P4502D6 (CYP2D6) enzymes, with CYP2C9 and CYP3A4 also making contributions (Gevirtz, 2011; Mash et al., 2001; Obach et al., 1998). The CYP2D6 enzyme makes a significant contribution (30%) to the metabolism of currently used drugs (Zhou, 2009). An important aspect of ibogaine metabolism is that the CYP2D6 cytochrome is subject to polymorphic expression, especially in Caucasians of whom 5–10% lack the gene required for the enzyme’s synthesis (Gonzalez and Meyer, 1991)” (quote from Corkery, 2018).
Corkery (2018) says further that “genotyping tests already exist for the CYP2D6 cytochrome,” so lacking this enzyme and not knowing that you lack it could lead to death upon iboga ingestion. I’m not sure how much such a test cost, but something to consider just to be safe. The more I research, the more I realize iboga is more dangerous than I thought.
Corkery, J. M. (2018). Ibogaine as a Treatment for Substance Misuse: Potential Benefits and Practical Dangers. In T. Calvey (Ed.), Progress in Brain Research (Volume 242). Psychedelic Neuroscience, (217-244). Elsevier.