Ibogaine and addiction in the animal model, a systematic review and meta-analysis

Transl Psychiatry. 2016 May 31;6(5):e826. doi: 10.1038/tp.2016.71.


Ibogaine is a naturally occurring substance which has been increasingly used in the lay-scene to reduce craving and relapse in patients with substance use disorders (SUDs). Although human clinical trials on the safety and efficacy of ibogaine are lacking, animal studies do support the efficacy of ibogaine. In this systematic review and meta-analysis (MA), we summarise these animal findings, addressing three questions: (1) does ibogaine reduce addictive behaviour in animal models of SUDs?; (2) what are the toxic effects of ibogaine on motor functioning, cerebellum and heart rhythm?; (3) what are neuropharmacological working mechanisms of ibogaine treatment in animal models of SUDs? MA of 27 studies showed that ibogaine reduced drug self-administration, particularly during the first 24 h after administration. Ibogaine had no effect on drug-induced conditioned place preference. Ibogaine administration resulted in motor impairment in the first 24 h after supplementation, and cerebral cell loss even weeks after administration. Data on ibogaines effect on cardiac rhythm, as well as on its neuropharmacological working mechanisms are limited. Our results warrant further studies into the clinical efficacy of ibogaine in SUD patients in reducing craving and substance use, but close monitoring of the patients is recommended because of the possible toxic effects. In addition, more work is needed to unravel the neuropharmacological working mechanisms of ibogaine and to investigate its effects on heart rhythm.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Ibogaine / pharmacology*
  • Ibogaine / toxicity
  • Illicit Drugs*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Self Administration
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*


  • Illicit Drugs
  • Ibogaine