Introduction, The Healing Journey, Claudio Naranjo
The Ibogaine Dossier
The Ibogaine Dossier

NYU Conference on Ibogaine Nov 5-6, 1999

Photograph Claudio Naranjo, 1973
Claudio C. Naranjo

Photograph Doctor Leo Zeff, 1987, a psychologist who treated 100s of patients with ibogaine.
Leo Zeff, 1987
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Claudio C. Naranjo

April 2001

This last chapter of The Healing Journey, "Ibogaine: Fantasy and Reality" was written, as the book as a whole, during the early time of my emigration from Chile to California, when I was a Research Associate at the UC campus in Berkeley and an intermittent "Associate-in-Residence" at the Esalen Institute.

My clinical explorations with ibogaine and iboga extracts had been carried out in 1967, immediately after completion of my early studies on the effects of various harmala alkaloids and harmaline admixtures. Despite the absence of available information at the time as to psychedelic effects of ibogaine (I continue to prefer "psychedelic" to "enthogenic" despite the modern fashion - for mind expansion need not be "misticomimetic") I was sure that something similar to the harmala alkaloids were known in Gabon after a chance meeting with a past British Consul there after my return from the Colombian Putumayo. On hearing my stories about Colombian shamans believed to turn into tigers, he told me of African shamans turning into lions, and since the chemistry of ibogaine was suggestive enough of a pharmacological similarity between the corresponding substances, I proceeded to investigate the matter. The only studies that I could find published by then had been on the effects of ibogaine on the intestine of the rat and on the vagina of the rabbit, so in my interest to explore subjective psychoactivity I begun with myself as a guinea pig. As for the rest, I reported it on occasion of the U.C. LSD conference in 1967 in S.F.(when news of it made the headlines of the San Francisco Chronicle) and later on the pages of The Healing Journey that Howard Lotsof has invited me to reproduce in this ibogaine internet site.

When I was younger I tended to share my discoveries and ideas in a way that made people feel that I was only repeating things generally known or taken for granted, for I was more interested in the spread of knowledge than in taking credit. It was in this spirit that, just as I downplayed my discovery of the "feeling enhancers" (now renamed "empathogens") I mentioned that others were also using ibogaine in Berkeley and in Chile. The implicit reference was to my friend Dr. Leo Zeff, with whom I had shared my findings, and with my collaborators at the CEAM (Center for Studies in Medical Anthropology) at the U. of Chile Medical School. I also shared these findings (which included unpublished research concerning ibogaine-phenethilamine associations) with M. Bocher at the Usines Chimiques d'Ivry-la-Bataille, who in the late sixties filed an international patent in our name on the psychotherapeutic use of the alkaloid. Yet never again was I involved in this research in view of my moving to California and my interest in other matters that involved all my time and energies. I continue to think, however, that ibogaine can be a useful adjunct to psychotherapy, and that it is to be deplored that the indiscriminate war on psychedelics - prompted by political and economic interests than geared to the common good - is depriving the public from the benefit of more extensive use.

Claudio Naranjo
April, 2001

Ibogaine: Fantasy and Reality

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