Chemical structure of myristicin and elemicin. Iboga
Iboga (Tabernanthe iboga) is a shrub native to west-central Africa, and used in cultures of the Gabon and Congo (Schultes and Hofman 1980, 1992). It grows to a height of 4-6 feet in the undergrowth of tropical forests, but has also been cultivated. Its leaves are ovate, 3-4.5 inches in length and 1.25 inches wide, with a green color on top and yellowish-green underneath. Tiny flowers grow in groups of 5-12 with whitish, yellowish, or pinkish color. Its fruits are yellow-orange in color, ovoid, and grow as large as olives (figure 9.12).
The plant is used in elaborate religious ceremonies, which vary from area to area. Adherents use the plant to communicate spiritually with their ancestors. In lower doses, it is used to counteract fatigue and hunger. Warriors and hunters have used it to remain awake at night. Some Europeans have claimed that it has aphrodisiac effects as well. More recently, anecdotal reports have indicated possible antiaddictive effects of iboga, stimulating a rush of scientific research into the neurochemical effects of the plant (Mash et al. 1998). Chemical Constituents
Several indole alkaloids have been isolated from the iboga plant, but the principal psychoactive agent is ibogaine. However, other alkaloids have physiological effects, and may also have psychoactive effects (figure 9.13). These include ibogamine, coronaridine, and tabernanthine. Some research has also focused on the effects of noribogaine (12-hydroxy-
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