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African shrub may help drug withdrawal US scientists are investigating derivatives of a compound from an African shrub that is said to cure drug addicts of their habit, reports New Scientist magazine.
Ibogaine is a compound that comes from the root of the plant Tabernanthe iboga, found in Gabon, West Africa. Followers of the Bwiti religion use it in ceremonies for its vision-giving properties. But in the early 1960s, ibogaine became associated with reducing drug cravings among heroin addicts attempting to withdraw.
Although banned in the US as a schedule 1 drug - it is classed alongside heroin - some researchers say that ibogaine is "worth investigating" as an alternative to methadone to help heroin addicts avoid the effects of withdrawal.
Dr Stanley Glick, a neuropharmacologist at New York's Albany Medical Center, studied the way ibogaine binds to a range of receptors in the brain's nerve endings. He has now teamed up with Dr Martin Kuehne from the University of Vermont to look at two of ibogaine's molecular cousins that have fewer side effects.
In research into 18-methoxycoronaridine (18-MC) - a synthetic relative of ibogaine - they discovered that rats administered with the compound reduced the amount of drugs they self-administered and had less severe withdrawal symptoms.
Dr Deborah Mash, a neuropharmacologist at the University of Miami Medical Center, has also carried out ibogaine trials in the past, and says that some patients who took the treatment have remained drug free for as long as six years.
Now Dr Mash has found that noribogaine - a natural metabolite of ibogaine - helps addicted rodents stop themselves from self-administering drugs. She believes noribogaine locks onto the mu-opoid receptor - the main binding site for morphine - and stifles the stimulus that the drug provides.
But Frank Vocci, from the US National Institute on Drug Abuse in Maryland, told New Scientist that while there were "striking stories" of drug addicts who have been helped by ibogaine, there were other anecdotes describing people who did not quit their habit and even died while taking the compound.
The leading edge researchers and scientists and other experienced people gather in NYC to discuss and present evidence about this promising tool in helping people get off mentally and physically addictive drugs.
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm Traditional Healing and Religious Practice Suzanne Bellamy, ex-BPP Laurent Sazy, Photoethnographer Malendi, Bwiti Nganga Awolowo Johnson, Nganga/sociologist Discussion
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm Break
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm Treatment Providers Speak Howard Lotsof Linette Carriere, IbogaTherapyHouse Patrick Kroupa, Ibogaine List Adam Nodelman, INTASH Brian Mariano, Czech Republic Lynn Maner Discussion
5:45 pm to 8 pm Ibogaine and the Search for Lost Sacraments Prof. Carl Ruck, PhD, author, "The Apples of Apollo" Daniel Pinchbeck, author, "Breaking Open the Head" Charles Kater, Friends of Bishop Pike Frank Morales, Episcopalian Priest OTHERS, TBA Discussion
Monday, May 5, 2003, 10 am to 6 pm
10:00 am - 10:30 am Registration $20
10:30 am - 10:45 am Introductory Remarks H.S. Lotsof
10:45 am - 1:45 pm Scientific Panel Kenneth R. Alper, MD Deborah C. Mash PhD Emmanuel Onaivi, PhD Carl M. Anderson, PhD Jonathan Freedlander, BA Discussion
1:45 pm - 3:00 PM Lunch
3:00 pm - 5:15 pm Politics and Availability Dana Beal, co-author, "The Ibogaine Story" Vic Hernandez, Dr PH Howard Lotsof Bob Sisko Addiction Research Institute Ric Doblin, MAPS Discussion
5:15 pm - 6:00 pm Final Wrap-up Panel Rommel Washington, BENU & Principal Panelists
The Monday session will be attended by representatives of various city and state agencies.
I read a interesting trip report on Ibogaine at erowid
-------------------- One of the reasons marijuana is illegal today because growers in the 30s lobbied against hemp farmers -- they saw it as competition, because It is not chemically addictive as is nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine.