Researchers Develop Synthetic Ibogaine to Treat Depression, Addiction

December 23, 2020 15:11:18

Ibogaine is a psychoactive substance that triggers hallucinations; the substance is found in the Apocynaceae family of plants. Ibogaine has been used in spiritual ceremonies by the Bwiti tribe of Gabon for centuries. However, it wasn’t until the ’50s that ibogaine became popular in the West as a treatment for depression and addiction.

Despite this rising popularity, however, ibogaine isn’t a medicine per se as it may lead to heart attacks and it’s illegal in most countries. Still, it was used by researchers recently to develop a non-hallucinogenic, non-toxic chemical cousin that helps tackle addictive and depressive behaviors in rodents. This innovative treatment provides hope that in the future chemists may develop medicines for individuals that offer the therapeutic benefits of other psychoactive compounds including ibogaine, tailored to exclude potential side effects.

Many psychedelics, including psilocybin, ibogaine and LSD, have long been perceived as potentially effective treatments of depression and addiction. Apart from possessing a mechanism of action different from the psychiatric medicines currently in use, psychoactives also give rise to long-lasting effects after a few doses have been administered, which suggests that they may not only be efficacious but they may also treat more people.

Individuals who suffer from addiction and depression usually lose some of their prefrontal cortex’s synaptic connections. The prefrontal cortex in the brain is connected to social behavior, personality and decision-making. Ketamine and LSD are psychoactive compounds that have been shown to help with addiction and depression in some individuals. The two psychedelic compounds appear to help the neurons in the prefrontal cortex communicate better through encouraging dendritic spine growth.

David Olson, a chemical neuroscientist from the University of California, led researchers in a study that discovered tabernanthalog, a non-hallucinogen derived from ibogaine. The group of researchers synthesized 20 chemical analogs of ibogaine and discovered TBG, or tabernanthalog, to be the most promising compound that was free from hallucinogens and toxic substances. They tested the compound on rodents and noticed that it supported dendritic spine growth in both the rodents and in cells. One injection of TBG was found to protect an individual against a heroin use relapse for two weeks. The team published its research in the “Nature” journal, explaining that the compound did not lead to dependency because it did not stimulate the reward centers of the brain.

Additionally, the researchers noted that TBG binds to serotonin receptors, which are also targeted by psilocybin and LSD, suggesting that the compound provides its beneficial effects without causing hallucinations.

A number of companies have shown interest in the psychedelic space. A clear example is Canadian-based Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN), which is engaged in developing psychedelic medicines as well as functional mushroom products.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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