Ibogaine is an indole alkaloid that occurs naturally in a number of plants, primarily in Tabernanthe iboga, a member of the Apocynaceae family. When extracted from a plant it is most commonly found in hydrochloride salt form, as ibogaine hydrochloride.
Ibogaine acts as a psychoactive substance in humans, having both anti-addictive and psychedelic properties, and acting as a stimulant at lower doses. Its wide range of effects are explained by the chemicals compex pharmacology, where it affects many different neurotransmitter systems at once. It is a non-competetive antagonist at α3β4 nicotinic receptors and also affects the opioid and glutamatergic systems, thus explaining the anti-addictive properties. In addition, it is a weak 5HT2A agonist, which is likely to be important in mediating the psychedelic properties.
Preparations containing ibogaine are used for medicinal and ritual purposes by the Bwiti culture in Western Africa, who in turn claim to have learned it from the Pygmy. Since the discovery of its anti-addictive properties, Ibogaine is increasing being used in rehabilitation clinics to treat addictions to a wide range of substances, in particular opiate (espescially heroin), alcohol and nicotine dependencies.
Ibogaine has affinity (Ki) for the following sites in decreasing order of potency: σ2 (206 nM) > SERT (548.7 nM) > DAT (1,980 nM) > NMDA (2,001 nM) > κ-opioid (2,717 nM) > µ-opioid (4,362 nM) > σ1 (5,839 nM) > M3 (12,500 nM) > 5-HT2A (14,142 nM) > M1 (22,486 nM) > M2 (39,409 nM) > D3 (70,000 nM).