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What Is Ibogaine

Iboga is a shrub indigenous to central west Africa, especially Gabon, Cameroon and Congo. The shrub grows up to 1.5–2 m in height, has yellowish or pinkish flowers, and produces sweet pulpy fruits without any psychoactive alkaloids. The root bark contains about 6% of indole alkaloids: these include ibogaine, ibogaline, ibogamine, and tabernanthine (Bruneton, 2009:1177), in the proportions 80%, 15% and 5% respectively for the first three listed (Jenks, 2002). Ibogaine’s chemical formula is C20H26N2O; its molecular mass is 310.433 g/mol. It possesses two distinct chiral centers, thereby generating four stereoisomers.

Apart from extraction from the iboga plant, ibogaine hydrochloride can be semi-synthesized from voacangine, another plant alkaloid which acts as a precursor (Jenks, 2002). Total synthesis of ibogaine was first described in a US patent in 1956 (Janot and Goutarel, 1957), and a decade later Büchi et al. (1966) published a detailed paper on its complete synthesis. Over the years, additional methods of synthesis have been achieved (Frauenfelder, 1999).

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