Medicinal Plants

Tabernanthe Iboga Tree

Tabernanthe Iboga (Iboga Tree) is perennial shrub found in rainforests in Central Africa. Tabernanthe Iboga is known for its psychoactive properties, which stimulate the nervous system. It is also a part of rituals in some of the natives of Gabon and Central Africa. When taken in large doses, it induces visions and hallucinations. Tabernanthe Iboga is used as a drug to cure drug addiction patients.

Botanical Description

Basic Information

English NameIBOGA TREE

Botanical Classification (Taxonomy)

Infra KingdomSTREPTOPHYTA  (land plants)
SpeciesT. IBOGA

Plant Description

Type of PlantPerennial
Native Range (Geographic Distribution)Gabon and Central Africa
Height (grows up to)2 to 10 meter tall
Habitat (type of environment)Humid and moist climate and partially shady region
FlowersEither white or pink
FruitsOrange color with oval or spherical
SpreadRequire space to grow well

Tabernanthe Iboga can grow up to a height of two meters. It may end up growing into a tree (10 m tall) if right conditions prevail. The leaves are of green color. The flowers are either white or pink. The fruits come in orange color with spherical or oval shape.


Tabernanthe Iboga grows well in partially shady region with good soil and drainage system. The roots of the tree require enough space for it to grow. Watering the tree regularly and feeding it with fertilizers during summer time will keep the tree healthy. During winter, the shrub in pot should be shifted to warmer regions. The roots tend to shoot up to the ground and so care should be taken to cover it.

During the dormant months, the leaves tend to shed. The tree is a perennial one, which can grow throughout the year.

The rainforest where Tabernanthe Iboga grows provides humid and moist climate. However, if Tabernanthe Iboga tree is cultivated, it can adapt to dry climate as well. The leaves may shed first (because of dryness) but will grow back. The new leaves now can adjust to very dry climate as long as they are watered correctly. They can grow in less sunlight. Initially they may require 70% sunlight, but later on, as they grow old, they require even less sunlight. This factor makes it ideal to be cultivated in artificial light also and even kept indoors.

Benefits & Uses

Tabernanthe Iboga contains an alkaloid named as Ibogaine, which is beneficial for the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. Traditionally, it is used as part of some spiritual practices and tribal dance. Tabernanthe Iboga has stimulant for central nervous system and helps to attain good alertness. Therefore, tribal people eat it in small doses for alertness while hunting.

Drug Abuse treatment

Ibogaine is an alkaloid found in the roots of the Tabernanthe Iboga tree and in its bark. It is a substance, which has psychoactive properties used in treating substance addiction like heroin, alcohol, cocaine and other drugs. When the drug addiction treatment is going on the patient suffers from withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be treated by using Ibogaine. Users of Ibogaine have claimed to have visions and living in dream like state, which pushes away all the fears, they have. The feeling of “high” with Ibogaine pushes away the drug abuse thought from the minds of the users. Ibogaine can induce introspection in the patient also.

Chronic Pain Treatment

Some researchers have found that Ibogaine potentiates morphine, which may help in chronic pain management. Nevertheless, this is yet to be researched further owing the implications of using Ibogaine and its side effects.

Traditional Use of Iboga

The Iboga tree is the main part of BWITI practice in Central Africa, Gabon, Congo and Cameroon. The root and bark of the tree, which contains the INDOLE alkaloid Ibogaine, is used in various ceremonies. The Tabernanthe Iboga root powder is taken in small and large doses to induce visionaries and initiate spiritual journey. Tabernanthe Iboga seed powder is believed to help the tribes connect with their ancestors and keep their tribal tradition alive. The visionary and dream-like state is achieved due to the psychoactive property of Iboga.


Ibogaine, an alkaloid of Tabernanthe Iboga may cause severe side effects, which may lead even to death due to respiratory failure. Therefore, one should use it strictly under supervision of medical professionals.

Side Effects

  1. Ataxia (loss of control on bodily movements)
  2. Bradycardia (Abnormally slow heartbeat)
  3. Hypotension (Low blood pressure)
  4. Nausea
  5. Mild Tremors

Larger dosage can result in following complications.

  • Convulsions
  • Paralysis
  • Respiratory failure

Pregnancy & Lactation

Tabernanthe Iboga is POSSIBLY UNSAFE in pregnancy because it may have effects on blood pressure and slows the heartbeat, which can adversely affect the health of pregnant woman.

There is no safety information available for lactation, so avoid using it in breastfeeding.

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Dr. Jagdev Singh

Dr. Jagdev Singh is a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Herbalist with B.A.M.S. and M. Sc. in Medicinal Plants. He has a wealth of experience in using Ayurveda to treat patients, including the use of herbal medicine and personalized Ayurvedic diets. His passion for spreading accurate and scientific information about Ayurveda and Medicinal Plants led him to create Ayur Times, a trusted resource for those seeking reliable information on the topic. Through his dedicated work, Dr. Singh has helped thousands of patients find relief and improve their health with Ayurveda and Herbal Medicine.

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