#82 ep3.0_Neuro & Plant Science
I’m proud to announce the third installment of the Iboganautics podcast. This experience just keeps getting better. I learned so much this season about neural and alkaloidal processes, ibogaine and similar alkaloids’ botanical sources, how these alkaloids are extracted and purified, etc. I found this season’s research, guests and their work to be fascinating. It’s so interesting to me how we can even know the details of these chemical keys and how they fit into our neuronal doors. We understand much, but imagine, there is so much we have left to discover. My biggest question is simply “why”; why do these chemicals, when inserted into specific neurons, produce the visionary effects that they do?
Neuroscience and botany are not my fields, and I felt at times like an outsider looking into these academic worlds and my guests’ perspectives. I hope that I asked some interesting questions and broadened my guests’ perspective as much as they broadened mine and likely yours. I’m reminded of the curiosity of a child. Children pose excellent questions to adults because they have not been, say, academically domesticated or preconditioned to think a certain way, that is, the way most people think within a specific tradition. Sometimes I felt like a child when asking my guests questions because I don’t know much about botany, organic chemistry, clinical psychology, neuroscience, etc. The main (at least most recent) exposure I had to these fields were the texts I read in preparation for discussions with my guests, many of them written by my guests. In my naïve, childlike defense when it comes to questioning scholars from fields not my own, I do have a graduate degree in philosophy, so I do come armed with critical thinking skills and therefore probative questions. Many of my questions are geared toward helping me understand in some way why and how iboga and other psychedelics elicit the subjective and phenomenological experiences that they do; therefore, I’m primarily concerned with decoding the visionary experience, and I believe that by knowing something about iboga from other academic perspectives will help me answer my questions in better understanding this very visionary experience.
I’m very happy with the first volley of episodes being released this week. The following guest information can be found in Season 3 Episode 0’s description on whatever podcast directory you use to listen to podcasts:
The first two episodes focus on neurophysiological and phenomenological overlaps between iboga and Salvia divinorum, and iboga and ketamine, respectively. Clinical psychologist Dr. Peter H. Addy (ep3.1) speaks about Salvia’s kappa opioid receptor agonist functions and we draw on both of our knowledge to find overlaps between Salvia and iboga. Ketamine clinician Dr. Lowan H. Stewart (ep3.2) and I discuss ketamine and iboga’s dissociative qualities and their shared NMDA receptor antagonist features. Organic chemist Dr. Surajit Sinha (ep3.3) guides us through the non-ibogaine alkaloid landscape, pointing out many other iboga-type alkaloids that get far less attention compared to ibogaine. Organic chemist Dr. Chris Jenks (ep3.4) is (in my opinion) the godfather of iboga extraction for it is he who discovered the extraction and purification process to make total alkaloid (TA) extract, changing the way people can experience iboga. Plant biologist Dr. Felix Krengel (ep3.5) expands upon Jenks’s work and takes extraction and purification of ibogan-type alkaloids to new levels, experimenting with different solvents in addition to focusing on the mostly voacangine-containing Tabernaemontana genus. And plant phenomenologist Dr. Michael Marder (ep3.6) explains what it is like to be a plant from the plant’s perspective and we philosophize about psychedelic plant sentience, intelligence, and agency upon their ingestion by humans.
Also, I’m quite relieved to wrap up this chunk of research for Season 3. I chuckle as I write this: it was really hard, really challenging. I studied philosophy, so reading some of these texts were a bit heavy to what I’m used to, and I read heavy philosophy texts! It’s a different kind of heavy, sort of like a different kind of drunk depending on what type of alcohol you become drunk with. Wine drunk is a different experience than beer drunk and further different from gin drunk. I felt the same thing reading these neuroscience and botany texts to which I’m not accustomed. But I did it because I’m so damn curious about the topic! What I’m honestly looking for when I do any kind of research for any project is a lightbulb to go on, some eureka moment, an opportunity to slap myself across my own shaved head and say, of course, yes, this makes sense, this helps me with my mission. Like junkies and disc jockeys of all sorts, I seek that high of putting two seemingly unrelated things together, creating a remix and then releasing into the world to be debated in the marketplace of ideas.
I want to thank my guests again for being excellent conversational sparing partners and teachers in yours and my journey with this substance called iboga. I hope you enjoy the season; please do let me know what you think.