How the Psychedelic Ibogaine Helped a Retired Vancouver Firefighter Treat His Depression

Article by Sam Riches, Growth Op

News How the psychedelic Ibogaine helped a retired Vancouver firefighter treat his depression "It’s not like I take this one pill and I’m better. It’s a long journey afterwards with therapy, but what it shows you is how to be a better person." Author of the article: Sam Riches FILE: Erik Bjarnason, at home in North Vancouver, wearing his new prosthetic hand. PHOTO BY FRANCIS GEORGIAN

In an interview with City News, a retired firefighter and rescue member from Vancouver says that Iboga, a psychedelic rainforest shrub that grows across West Africa, saved his life.

Erik Bjarnason said the substance helped combat his depression and reliance on alcohol following a rescue training mission gone awry in the Yukon in 2005. Stranded on Mount Logan for three days, Canada’s highest peak, Bjarnason lost nine fingers to frostbite.

“The Iboga makes you have a real conversation with yourself. It seems to open up the doors of your perception,” Bjarnason told City News.“There’s a bit of hallucinating, but it’s not really what you concentrate on. For me, I was concentrating on how do I make myself better? How do I cure myself? And for the most part, it told me what I had to do.”

Ibogaine has shown promise in treating addiction, from alcohol and opiates to methamphetamine and heroin. A 2018 study published in  The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse  found that “a single ibogaine treatment reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms and achieved opioid cessation or sustained reduced use in dependent individuals as measured over 12 months.”

But Ibogaine can also be toxic to the heart, and fatal in some cases. In 2017, Health Canada added the substance to the  Prescription Drug List, meaning that it can only be legally obtained with a medical prescription.

It remains legal in New Zealand and Uraguay and controlled in Denmark, Australia, Brazil, Hungary, South Africa and Portugal, in addition to Canada.

For his treatment, Bjarnason travelled to Costa Rica, where Ibogaine is not regulated, and ingested it with the guidance of an experienced practitioner.

Read the full article here.

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