How Not To Do Ibogaine

I’m a doctor. I should have known this would happen. I started using Vicodin for “pain”, prescribed by another physician. It worked well. Too well. It helped the underlying psychic pain better than anything else.

I was naïve enough to think I could control my use. I did, for a long time, until life got really tough. Then, it seemed opioids were the only thing that kept me from hurting, whether mentally or physically. Like millions of other people, I became dependent.

I eventually needed opioids every day or the pain was severe and the withdrawal symptoms miserable. The ups and downs of short acting pharmaceutical opioids were brutal. The rollercoaster ride became intolerable, so I decided to take buprenorphine. It is a partial agonist, and it was marketed to help with opioid dependence as follows:

  1. Lower abuse potential
  2. A ceiling effect at higher doses
  3. Greater safety in overdose compared with opioid full agonists
  4. Lower level of physical dependence (less withdrawal discomfort)

All the above are true except the last point. I believed that I would be able to wean off buprenorphine slowly over 6-12 months. It wasn’t long before I realized that every time I tried to drop my dose, I felt awful, for weeks. I soon stopped trying. I became resigned.

“At least it’s better than Vicodin.” It was and it wasn’t.

After four years on buprenorphine, I wanted to be opioid free. I had done the hard work (pretreatment) of improving my emotional and psychological health. I had worked through my childhood trauma. I had started a regular yoga and meditation practice. I had weaned off my antidepressant and most of my other medications.

On a podcast with Dr. Gabor Maté, he discussed the promise of ibogaine treatment. I had never heard of it. I was intrigued. I did some research and contacted an ibogaine center in Mexico.

They informed me that buprenorphine would have to be stopped for two months before ibogaine treatment. I would not have to go through withdrawals as they recommended I take morphine for 2 months instead.

They recommended an EKG and some blood work which I completed. They had a decent intake form but didn’t offer any pretreatment therapy of any kind. There was also precious little communication in the months leading up to my stay. I showed up at the Cancun airport to meet the owner/operator of this center.

Little did I know a week from hell was about to begin.

One by one, the problems emerged. First, somehow I had misunderstood how to pay the balance of the treatment. The owner accused me of “not wanting to pay,” and insisted that, “you could leave now if there is a problem.”

It felt like a shakedown, like a drug deal gone wrong. He had the ibogaine, and I better pay up or leave! He never asked me any questions to determine what had actually happened. It was distressing. The misunderstanding was remedied, I paid the balance, but I never felt comfortable again during my 6 day stay.

I arrived on a Monday. We did lab tests and a urine screen on Tuesday. I thought we would do ibogaine on Wednesday, since I was leaving on Saturday.

For some reason, never revealed, I did not receive ibogaine until Thursday morning. They delayed with trips to the massage therapist and to dinner. The night before our experience was to begin, I had a thirty-minute conversation with someone regarding what to expect from ibogaine and a short discussion on goals. I detail my psychedelic experience in my book, Opioids and Ibogaine: A Doctor’s Trip.

Thursday morning, a nurse gave me a test dose and within 45 minutes, I felt “drunk” but had no other effects. They then gave me the rest of the flood dose. I don’t even remember how much – I had given up my agency and had chosen to trust them.

Within 1-2 hours I suddenly vomited without warning. I told them I had wet my pants while vomiting. They did nothing about that. I lay in my wet clothes until I was done tripping.

While tripping, I remained in bed, with music playing through the headphones, eyes covered by a mask, and hallucinating. I had some visions. I had some insights. It wasn’t that amazing. I didn’t have any expectations going into the trip other than what they had told me the night before. After about six hours, I was consciously more aware, and that’s when the real nightmare began.

I started to have significant opioid withdrawals. I was in severe pain, and my legs were endlessly restless and stiff. I could not lie in one position for more than a minute. I also kept vomiting brilliant green bile, and the nausea and chest pain were persistent. All I could do was moan, groan, and move my legs in bed, flipping over and over again.

I now KNEW the suffering of opioid withdrawals. I had never experienced it before. I had always been too careful and never ran out of my medications.

Because ibogaine interacts with so many other medications, with known cardiotoxic effects, the team gave me nothing for my symptoms. I spent 12 hours in complete misery. I had no fluids for over 24 hours. They refused to give me IV hydration. They wanted me to drink, but the nausea was overwhelming.

I noticed my breathing was getting fast due to dehydration (metabolic acidosis). They still refused IV hydration. They wanted me to eat. No way I could. Finally, they gave me a little Valium and Zantac. I could sip on ginger ale and eat a few potato chips at about hour 36.

I spent the entire second day in bed. The owner came in and told me, “You are doing really well given you still had buprenorphine in your urine when you arrived.” WHAT? Why didn’t he share that before the ibogaine treatment?

I was not doing well. Friday was endless. I could not sleep at all. Saturday, they had me pack my bags for the airport – they dropped me off in Cancun at noon for a 5 pm flight. I was all alone, weak, and exhausted. I ended up crying at a table out of sheer despair.

The hell started in Mexico, and the months that followed were agonizing. No aftercare was offered. The center did not seem to care about me after I left. I was left to fend for myself. I developed diarrhea and called them to get advice. They were not helpful.

I figured since it was Mexico, it was likely travelers’ diarrhea. I took cipro for a day and it seemed to get better. It slowed down. However, within a couple of weeks I was having watery diarrhea every morning after I ate anything.

The first month after returning, I had severe restless legs, horrible insomnia, fatigue, weakness, but NO DEPRESSION. The promise of noribogaine is true. Despite my physical complaints, I was mentally able to tolerate it.

Slowly, after about two months, the noribogaine wore off and I spiraled headfirst into a depression. I had lost 15 pounds, I could barely work, and nothing was improving.

I had an “ah-ha!” moment after my acupuncturist put me on St. John’s Wort for a couple of weeks. I suddenly realized the cause of my diarrhea – GIARDIA – an intestinal parasite. All the symptoms were consistent so I self-treated with the proper medication and it suddenly improved. However, the damage inflicted on my intestines took over a year to heal.

It was a very long road back to health, mentally and physically. I had no support, no aftercare, nothing. I was on my own.

Over two years later, I met Garyth Moxey, Anders Beatty, and Jeremy Weate. We are kindred spirits. We all want the same for patients with opioid dependence. We will provide adequate pretreatment, be attentive during treatment and ensure there is all the aftercare our clients need. I do not want anyone to go through what I experienced in Cancun.

Sue Nielsen MD.

Jennifer Jordan, Esq.

Board Member

Ms. Jennifer Jordan is the visionary force behind NuMind’s journey toward healthcare innovation. As the Co-Founder of JVX, Ms. Jordan epitomizes leadership in healthcare regulatory and compliance matters, ensuring our organization navigates complex landscapes with confidence and integrity. With a focus on responsible innovation, Ms. Jordan’s strategic counsel shapes our future, empowering us to reshape healthcare delivery and utilization. Her unparalleled expertise extends to governance, privacy, security, operations, and data protection, guiding us through regulatory requirements with precision. Jennifer’s credentials align with our core values of operationalizing solely in legalized jurisdictions, such as The Bahamas, and ensure that our endeavors are conducted with the highest standards of legal compliance and ethical integrity. With Ms. Jordan at the helm, NuMind is poised to pioneer transformative solutions, driving us toward a healthier, more dynamic future in healthcare.

DR. TRACY SCOTT, MSN ED., Ph.D.

Director of Aftercare & Retreats

Dr. Scott has an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in nursing education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. in Nutri-genomics. She has more than 10 years of experience with plant medicines. She advocates for ongoing research associated with the powerful emotional and physical healing breakthroughs brought about through plant medicine. Dr. Scott has extensive experience with Iboga ceremonies and continues to be devoted to the global expansion of plant-based medicine treatments for mental health and wellness.

PETER DOUGLAS

COO | Co-Founder

Mr. Douglas possesses a vast amount of experience in the field of international management consulting. He has successfully worked in countries such as Canada, the USA, Colombia, and Croatia. Moreover, his expertise in Corporate Structure, Strategic Development, Investor Relations, and Governance is unparalleled.

DR. DAVID ALLEN, MD, MPH

Advisory Board

Dr. Allen is highly accomplished, earning an M.D. from St. Andrews medical school and a postgraduate degree in Psychiatry and Public Health from Harvard Medical School. He has devoted his career to helping people with addiction and mental health issues and has held faculty positions at prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown Medical Schools. Dr. Allen is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and Officer of the Order of Distinction, Bahamas, which speaks to his remarkable dedication and service. He has also authored numerous publications on addiction, spirituality, and psychiatry and has founded cocaine treatment centers in The Bahamas and Washington, D.C. Dr. Allen’s work has undoubtedly made a significant impact on many people’s lives, and his contributions to psychiatry are truly admirable.

DR. JULIAN STEWART, MD, OBGYN

CMO

Dr. Stewart has an impressive educational background, having obtained degrees in Zoology and Medicine from the University of the West Indies and receiving training at the National School of Obstetrics in Ireland. He has devoted over 30 years of his professional life to practicing as a highly respected gynecologist in the Bahamas. Moreover, Dr. Stewart holds the esteemed position of Bahamas representative of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency).

LEANNE QUONG

Director of People Operations

Ms. Quong’s extensive experience in H.R. Operations and Customer Service shines through with her impressive record of stakeholder collaboration, client journey design, and business development. She is a dynamic leader who is passionate about helping companies unlock the full potential of their human capital to achieve success in the market. Her focus on delivering motivational solutions has resulted in outstanding customer satisfaction rates, 5-Star business reviews, impressive ROIs, and the formation of high-performing teams. Ms. Quong’s academic achievements, including a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management, nomination for Valedictorian, and winning the Louis Stervinou Memorial Scholarship, are a testament to her dedication and hard work. She is now pursuing a CPHR designation to enhance her professional development and bring more value to NuMind’s talent, clients, investors, and organization.

DR. MARIE ALLEN, MD, MS, Ph.D.

Director of Clinics

Dr. Marie Allen is a counseling psychologist, researcher, trainer, and curriculum developer with expertise in treating mood and behavior disorders, eating disorders, child and adolescent psychotherapy, school psychology, and women’s issues such as codependency and relationship matters. Dr. Marie has a postgraduate degree in Clinical Community Counseling and a doctoral degree in Psychology, specializing in Family Psychology. She has worked as an adjunct faculty member and Assistant Professor of Psychology at The College of The Bahamas, as well as a School Psychologist at the International I.B. World School. Dr. Marie is also the former Director of Training and Curriculum Development for The Family Program, an evidence-based program that provides free group therapy to marginalized communities in the Bahamas. Currently, she serves as the Clinical Director, Counseling Psychologist, and Individual & Group Psychotherapist at The Discovery Clinic of The Renascence Institute in Olde Towne, Sandyport, Nassau, Bahamas.

DR. JOHN GETCHELL, MD

Director of Wellness & Training

Dr. Getchell is a trained psychotherapist and clinical social worker with over 30 years of experience in various practice settings. He has obtained a Master of Social Work degree from Missouri State University. He has held multiple positions in the United States, including The Department of Justice, The Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Getchell is a decorated former United States military officer, serving 16 years in active duty service. Additionally, he has practiced for ten years as a faculty member for Missouri State University’s School of Social Work, specializing in teaching diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders and addictions. He specializes in addiction, PTSD, depression, and anxiety.

DR. BRIGETTE THOMAS-SARLES, MD

Internal Medicine (U.S.)

Dr. Thomas-Sarles is a native of St. George’s University, Grenada, West Indies graduate. She completed her residency training in Internal Medicine, in Florida and Alabama, before relocating to the Bahamas. She is a board-certified Internal Medicine specialist by the American Board of Internal Medicine and holds a license to practice in Florida and the Bahamas. Throughout college, she served as a first responder and Emergency Medical Technician. Dr. Thomas-Sarles is eager to employ her expertise to benefit the NuMind Community and its Guests.

Isaac Gilmore

Board Member

Mr. Isaac Gilmore is a visionary leader driving transformative change in healthcare. As Chairman of Heroic Path to Light, Mr. Gilmore pioneers psychedelic-assisted therapy for veterans and first responders, embodying a commitment to holistic healing. His role as an Advisory Council Member for Concordia Summit underscores his dedication to shaping global healthcare policies. Isaac’s tenure as Chief Growth Officer at TREAT California, where he spearheaded a groundbreaking $5 billion initiative in psychedelic therapy, exemplifies his forward-thinking approach. With a diverse background spanning defense, finance, and entrepreneurship, Isaac brings a unique perspective to NuMind Health, fostering innovation and pushing boundaries. His strategic partnerships and coalitions within the psychedelic community amplify NuMind’s mission, positioning the company at the forefront of healthcare innovation. With Isaac’s leadership, NuMind Health is poised to revolutionize mental health treatment, offering hope and healing to individuals worldwide while championing collaboration and progress across sectors for the betterment of all.

DR. CHRISTOPHER KINMAN, Ph.D., MSc, MDiv, RCC
Ph.D., MSc, MDiv, RCC Clinical Supervision

Onboarding

Dr. Kinman has been a counselor and family therapist for over 30 years, working with diverse individuals. His work primarily focuses on children and youth, family therapy, addictions, working with individuals and families where legal and criminal matters are pressing upon them, and working with a wide diversity of individuals and communities. Dr. Kinman holds a Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy, a Master of Divinity and a doctoral degree in Philosophy of Education, and is a professor of a graduate counseling program at the City University of Seattle.

CHRISTOPHER LABONTE

Community Engagement

Mr. Labonte is a distinguished Army veteran who proudly served his country from 2009 to 2018 with the 173rd out of the Vermont National Guard, Norwich University Corps of Cadets, and the Fifth Special Forces Group (Airborne). During his service, Mr. Labonte faced many life and leadership challenges while deployed to regions of Turkey and Syria, which led to chaos and turmoil. As a result, he decided to shift his focus to real estate investing. Despite facing depression, anxiety, and PTSD during his transition, Mr. Labonte discovered the healing power of psychedelic medicine. Through his experiences, he has seen first-hand the positive impact that these transformative substances can have on mental health and overall well-being. As the Community Engagement for NuMind Health, Mr. Labonte uses his extensive knowledge, lived experiences, and skills to drive progress and success for the community and educate others about these potentially life-changing methods and philosophies.

PETER ENNS

Director, Project Management, Real Estate

Mr. Enns has been a successful entrepreneur in the construction industry for the past 30 years. He has established multiple construction companies in Canada and has contributed significantly to the development of high-end homes, shopping malls, and office complexes in The Bahamas. With a team of 35 skilled professionals, Mr. Enns is renowned for delivering exceptional quality that sets him apart from his competitors. His vast experience in project management and real estate development will undoubtedly bring significant value to his work at NuMind Health.

MEREDITH EADES

Public Relations

Coming soon.

PAOLA CALE

Nutritionalist

Coming soon.

MR. JOHN GIORDANO, CCJS, MAC, CAP

Chief Knowledge Officer

Mr. John Giordano has dedicated his life to helping those struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges for the past 36 years. As an esteemed addiction and mental health expert, he has authored several books and founded the National Institute for Holistic Addiction Studies (NIFHAS) and the highly regarded G & G Holistic Addiction Treatment Center. This JCAHO-accredited facility offers both inpatient and outpatient services and has 62 beds for addiction treatment. His latest book, “The Kid from The South Bronx Who Never Gave Up,” has been praised for its exceptional ability to provide a roadmap toward achieving positive change. Mr. Giordano’s extensive knowledge of mental health and addiction has been shared with audiences in nearly 100 countries, and he has contributed to over 79 scientific peer-reviewed medical research papers. He is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading researchers by Research Gate, and his ground-breaking work with Dr. Deborah Mash in introducing evidence-based ibogaine treatments has made him a pioneering psychedelic researcher in ibogaine. Despite his struggles with addiction, Mr. Giordano has been in recovery for over 38 years and has never given up on helping others to live a quality life unencumbered by addiction.

Richard Avis

Executive Chairman | CEO | Co-Founder

Mr. Avis boasts over 30 years of experience as a C-Suite executive, showcasing unmatched expertise in start-up management, brand development, and international franchising. His track record of funding multiple start-up companies speaks for itself, consistently delivering exceptional results with every venture.