#86 ep3.4_TA Extract and HCl Methods and History_Chris Jenks

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Dr. Chris Jenks and I just finished speaking about his groundbreaking discovery in iboga extraction research to make total alkaloid (TA) extract. As he says, it’s a very simple technique, however, he did go through many trials to get to that end result. I admire his persistence. As I say more than once during our conversation, if Chris hadn’t made that discovery, I would not be on my current path in investigating the phenomenology of iboga-induced and other psychedelic experiences. Why, you might ask. Because if I had taken spoonful after spoonful of root bark, I doubt I would be able to get everything into my body, and if I had managed to get a flood dose worth of root bark needed to have the desired psychoactive experience, I would have probably vomited the product prematurely before my body had time to absorb all the iboga-type alkaloids. Therefore, I would have chalked up that experience as interesting, but that didn’t quite work out, for me anyway, and I probably would not have wanted to try it again.

Enter Chris and his discovery of an iboga extract that requires much less product that can be put into gelatin capsules, hence, the low quantity of bitter alkaloids bypassing my tongue’s disgust sensors, allowing the product to be absorbed by my stomach and the desired psychedelic experience that follows. I was told by retreat providers in addition to reading online that TA extract contains all the alkaloids found in the unprocessed root bark, allowing one to go deeper into the experience, and with less bodily discomfort. Sign me up! Sounds good to me, that’s what I’ll be having. This is not to say that I will never try root bark at a retreat or in Gabon or that I am disrespecting Bwiti and/or other traditions; in short, I prefer Jenks’s extract and I shall apply this consumption method for the majority of my iboga experiences henceforth.

As we discuss on the podcast, there is no right or wrong way to consume iboga; Bwiti and Western methods are simply different. I’m a Westerner, so I’ll gravitate toward my own culture’s ways more than another culture’s that is a few cultural steps removed from my own. I would really like to know whether a Bwiti shaman has tried TA extract or ibogaine hydrochloride (HCl) and how they compare the two experiences. As Chris says, being a chemist tells him that the experience should be more or less the same if the chemicals are the same. Rather, the experience will vary depending on one’s setting or environment, what bells and whistles, so to speak, are present that influence the experience. In this sense, I’m curious what I would experience during a Bwiti religious ceremony with the culturally embedded rituals, ritual dress, bodily and mental cleansing practices, food, music, and spiritual guiding, and with many local Gabonese partaking in the same ceremony. Even at Western retreats, it’s always an interesting experience to be throwing up with others in the same room at the same time. Or when the guy across from you misses the bucket and almost hits your feet and belongings.

Anyways, if you have taken or intend to take TA extract or pure ibogaine HCl, there is a good chance that Chris had some role to play at some point in the historical timeline of these products’ developments, either directly or influencing future researchers that expanded upon his methods. I’m curious what currently undiscovered extraction and purification techniques lie waiting for the next Jenks to have another eureka moment that will transform the way humans consume or use iboga alkaloid-containing products. We’ve only just begun to research psychedelics in a rigorous way, meaning, at the scale society is at today. Westerners have investigated psychoactive substances for hundreds of years; however, the number scientists were few and far between. I don’t know about you, but the present feeling I have regarding hallucinogen research is one of acceleration. We are barreling toward the future at a quicker pace and I think technology has something to do with it. Our technologies today allow us to answer some of the questions our psychedelic scientist forebearers could not because their instruments did not permit it. We have never been more qualified to answer our many scientific research questions, and—this is important—the farther we push, the more knowledge we gain, the more we understand about nature and testing equipment, our questions will grow bolder and more demanding, and then technology will have to keep up with our insatiable curiosity.

Since I’m going to buy an apartment soon, I’m reminded what people commonly say about the property market no matter the prices: it’s never too late to get into the game. I would argue the same for psychedelic research: it’s never too late to start, whatever your field may be. If this is something you want to do, just jump in and start. We’ll need increasingly more psychedelically interested scientists, anthropologists, musicologists, entrepreneurs, philosophers (my interest), etc. I’m also reminded of something Terence McKenna said at a conference in Hawaii in the 1990s along the lines of he gets paid to lecture around the world, write books, and so forth, and he says you can do it too. Just as nothing was stopping Jenks from poking and prodding the organic chemistry of ibogaine-containing wood products, nothing is stopping you. Be brave and poke the bear; you might get its attention and discover something about something.

Before I wrap up this stream, I wish I had asked Chris how many different iboga-alkaloid-containing Apocynaceae genera he has extracted and purified from apart from T. iboga and V. africana. My money’s on Chris that he’ll discover something else in working with other plant species.

Chris, if you end up becoming an iboga farmer, please keep us posted about your whereabouts so we can visit your all-inclusive iboga farm and retreat. Now that that seed is (re)planted, thanks again Chris for coming on the podcast; I learned a lot in my pre-recording research and during our conversation.




Dr. Chris Jenks’s website: Puzzlepiece.org

Jenks, C. (2002). Extraction Studies of Tabernanthe iboga and Voacanga africana. Natural Product Letters, 16(1), 71-76.

Jenks, C. (2009). Iboga Extraction Manual [PDF]. Puzzlepiece.org. Retrieved January 16, 2021, from http://www.puzzlepiece.org/ibogaine/literature/iborefs.html

Jenks, C. (2010, February 22). Chris Jenks: Extracting Ibogaine. YouTube. [Originally presented at Ibogaine Forum, New York City – February 13-15, 2010]. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W-GUEHDgFw

Jenks, C. (2012). Research on Production of Ibogaine from Voacanga and Iboga [Presentation]. Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance. Retrieved January 17, 2021, from https://www.ibogainealliance.org/conferences/vancouver-2012/archive/chris-jenks-ph-d/

Jenks, C. (2015). Voacanga Extraction Manual. Phase 1: Isolation of Total Alkaloids [PDF]. Puzzlepiece.org. Retrieved January 16, 2021, from http://www.puzzlepiece.org/ibogaine/literature/iborefs.html

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