What are the Major Differences between Iboga and Ayahuasca?
Here at Iboga Therapy, one of the most frequent questions we are asked is in regard to the differences between Iboga and Ayahuasca. Both medicines can have a profound impact, and may yield incredible results for those searching for spiritual discovery, personal growth, recovery, healing and profound life changes. They have both been used as a rite of passage for time immemorial by indigenous native tribes, and are both known to produce visions and insights. However, although the answer is complex, and the experience depends on a range of factors, there are still plenty of aspects in which these two sacred plant medicines differ.
Although the ibogaine molecule can be acquired from alternate sources, Iboga Root bark and it’s Total Alkaloid (TA) derivative can only be harvested from the roots of the Tabernanthe Iboga tree, which grows exclusively on the jungle floor of the Congo Basin in Gabon, Cameroon, and other regions of Western Central Africa. Although it is often ground into powder, the root is essentially eaten whole, without needing any preparation. Ayahuasca is a mixture of various compounds, notably dimethyltryptamine (DMT) which is distilled from the vines of plants found primarily in Brazil and Peru.
It has often been reported that Ayahuasca’s feminine spirit can be more gentle and comforting than Iboga, which has been described as a stern father. However, here at Iboga Therapy, we often receive reports from individuals claiming their Iboga experience provided immense pleasure and euphoria, as well as a feeling of comfort and reassurance. Unlike Ayahuasca, or DMT, or mushrooms during which one may experience being temporarily sucked into a psychological abyss they have little power to resist, it seems iboga allows the participant a degree of control over the experience. Iboga is in the drivers seat. However, providing it deems one’s chosen route to be beneficial, it often seems happy to let the person copilot. Additionally, many report that if the contents of the journey become too overwhelming, the experience can be discontinued by removing ones eye mask, or simply opening one’s eyes.
Beyond that, if we were to select the single most significant difference between the psychological effects of Iboga and Ayahuasca, it would be the lucid, clear, easily interpreted, easily remembered lucid visions that Iboga induces. Under the influence of other psychedelics, visions may be swirling and unintelligible, and memories of the experience may be hazy at best. This is not the case with Iboga.
High doses of Iboga may induce some physical effects that are absent from the Ayahuasca experience. Most notable of these is ataxia, a condition affecting the part of the nervous system responsible for movement. Consequently, it is advisable to have a sitter present to help with trips to the bathroom and any other requirements. In the days following the Iboga journey, a few people report trouble sleeping.
From a ceremonial perspective, the differences between Iboga and Ayahuasca are significant. Traditional African Iboga ceremonies involve only a few individuals consuming large measures of Iboga while the community participates in other ways, through singing, dancing, and tending to any physical needs the individual may require. These ceremonies are undertaken only once or twice in a lifetime.
In contrast, Ayahuasca ceremonies often include many participants drinking the brew and being led by a shaman. These ceremonies can take place again and again over the course of a lifetime. Interestingly, there also exists differences from a shamanistic perspective. Without doubt, a shaman is required to hold space and oversee an Ayahuasca ceremony. Although traditional African Iboga ceremonies are overseen by a Bwiti shaman, or Nganza, it would seem that the Iboga medicine is more adept in its ability to safely lead the participant through the journey without the need for the degree of shamanizing featured in Ayahuasca ceremonies.