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New Study Suggests Ibogaine Banishes PTSD

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A small clinical trial involving military veterans suggests that a psychedelic called ibogaine has the potential to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptoms such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Stanford University study found that the lesser-known psychedelic reduced depression and PTSD symptoms by more than 80% in veterans with TBIs.

While the past few years have seen a surge of psychedelic-related studies and clinical trials, most of them have focused on classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (magic mushrooms), MDMA and LSD. These studies found that these popular psychedelics can be effective at treating the symptoms of various mental ailments, especially when they are combined with traditional talk therapy.

The recent study now adds ibogaine to the list of psychedelics that have the potential to treat debilitating mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Study coauthor and Stanford University neuroscientist Nolan Williams says that ibogaine seems to deliver a “broad, dramatic and consistent effect.”

The psychedelic is made from the bark of a central African shrub called Tabernanthe iboga and was traditionally used for ceremonial purposes.

According to Maria Steenkamp from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, scientists have avoided researching the psychedelic for uses other than opioid dependence and withdrawal because it can cause fatal heartbeat irregularities and is strictly regulated in many nations. However, with more people failing to respond to conventional mental-health treatments such as therapy and antidepressants, Steenkamp says we “desperately need” new medical interventions.

Williams and his research team followed 30 U.S. veterans who went to a facility in Mexico where they purchased and took ibogaine alongside a magnesium supplement to reduce cardiac side effect risks. The research team reported an average 88% reduction in PTSD symptoms, an 87% drop in depression symptoms and an 81% reduction in anxiety symptoms one month after the ibogaine treatment. Furthermore, participants who had mild-to-moderate disabilities before treatment exhibited no disability one month after treatment, and none of the study participants had cardiac side effects.

Another study by researchers from the University of California posits that ibogaine may deliver its benefits by temporarily “reopening a critical period” where the nervous system is especially malleable.  Steenkamp says that the study, which had no control group, was a “proof of concept” that proper ibogaine screening and administration could reduce the risks of deadly side effects.

The research team plans to use biomarkers and neuroimaging to learn how ibogaine works and figure out if it can provide long-term mental-health benefits.

Meanwhile, other research teams at companies such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) are also making headway in developing therapeutic formulations from other psychedelics, including psilocybin. The mental-health field as we know it looks set for a major transformation in the coming years.

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