Ibogaine can treat addiction – but the race to make it profitable is an ethical minefield

Clinics and scientists around the world aim to turn a profit from a powerful Gabonese plant – but it’s an ethical and legal wild west

Lynn Smith was lying in a bed on the third floor of a beachfront house, unable to move her body from the neck down. A buzzing grew louder in her eardrums; just when she thought she couldn’t take it any more, it stopped. Then the visuals started.

For 22 hours after a nurse administered three pills of a psychedelic called ibogaine, Smith relived the series of events that had led her to this treatment clinic just south of Tijuana, including being ejected from a truck years prior. The accident left her with a crushed skull and prescriptions for the opioids she was addicted to for almost 20 years.

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