Ambio’s co-founder Jonathan Dickinson recently returned to the community of Abyeng, home of the A2E Association in Gabon. This village has the most mature iboga farm in the world, and recently completed the first legal export of iboga from the country since all export was halted in 2016 in an effort to prevent overexploitation of the plant and traditional knowledges.
The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is a supplement to the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity. Its goal is to protect access to genetic resources for traditional knowledge holders, and to ensure that traditional communities share equitably in the benefits that arise from the use of those resources outside of the traditional context.
One of the requirements of compliance with Nagoya is prior informed consent, so that communities understand the intended uses of their genetic resources. Above, Jonathan is providing a comprehensive report on the first kilogram, in the presence of A2E community members, and accompanied by representatives from Blessings of the Forest (BOTF), a not for profit dedicated to supporting the sustainable development of traditional communities in Gabon, as well as officials from Gabon’s Ministry of Water and Forests, and the Competent Authority on the Implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, which is part of the National Parks Association.
This first kilogram of iboga to be legally exported through Nagoya was delivered to Jonathan’s company Terragnosis Inc. and lab partner Filament Health in western Canada. There, it was converted to a purified total alkaloid extract (PTA). Rather than simply ibogaine hydrochloride, the resulting PTA contains all of the alkaloids found in Tabernanthe iboga, producing somewhat distinct effects.
In additional to a laboratory analysis of the material, Terragnosis supplied an initial test batch to Ambio Life Sciences, where we conducted 4 case series in order to demonstrate the efficacy and equivalency of the PTA extract to the ibogaine hydrochloride that we normally use. We established that the PTA was roughly 50% stronger by weight than ibogaine, suggesting that some of iboga’s other alkaloids, like ibogamine, ibogaline, tabernanthine, coronoradine, etc. are either stronger, have synergistic effects, or some combination of both. The beneficial after-effects of the medicine also appeared to be longer lasting, which may have some therapeutic value.
This report was well received by the A2E community, and officials from the National Parks association facilitated further dialogue with the community regarding proposals to scale up their harvesting to continue to supply Ambio and other clinics in the near future.
Most iboga plantations in Gabon are no more than 3 years old, and won’t be mature for another 2-4 years. Just outside of Abyeng, A2E’s first mature farm project was begun by Papa Alloise some 25 years ago. Picture above, Jonathan and NGO and government delegates on the mission stand in front of one 25 year old tree that supplied some of the root bark that was harvested for the first kilo.
Papa Alloise’s motivation to plant iboga came during his initiation into Bwiti, in which he heard iboga tell him that he needed to plant in order to help to heal the world. The story and the work of BOTF was covered in a recent feature story published in National Geographic.
Ambio has always taken a very holistic approach to healing. One of the ways is through Jonathan’s patient and diligent work over many years with numerous other stakeholders to develop a source of medicine for Ambio that has transparent benefits for everyone involved, from top to bottom. As with all things related to iboga, doing things properly can be challenging, and can take a huge investment of time and energy. Ultimately, however, the path becomes easier and more joyful as we walk it.
All of the pictures above were taken by Blessings of the Forest. Please support them and learn more about their tireless work by visiting https://blessingsoftheforest.org/