Ibogaine is a psychoactive indole alkaloid that has been investigated for use as a treatment for opioid addiction. While not commercially available in the United States, it is available via Internet suppliers. Ibogaine use has been associated with significant cardiac and neurologic effects, such as QT-segment prolongation, cardiac dysrhythmias, hallucinations, seizures, and central nervous system depression. We present a case of verified ibogaine exposure with associated QTc prolongation and torsade de pointes with qualitative analysis of the ingested substance, and examine the history, social context, availability, and perceptions of ibogaine's effects and safety.
A 34-year-old white woman with medical history significant for heroin and cocaine use disorder presented with reported seizures 1 day after ingestion of 2 g ibogaine powder purchased from an Internet supplier. Shortly after ingestion, she experienced hallucinations and was reported by family to have four to five seizure-like episodes, at one point becoming apneic. In the emergency department, she was noted to have QTc prolongation and several episodes of torsade de pointes. Qualitative analysis confirmed the presence of ibogaine in the empty foil packages containing the ingested substance.
Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?
As increasing numbers of opioid-dependent patients attempt to curtail their substance use disorders, we anticipate a rise in ibogaine exposures, necessitating awareness by front-line clinicians in recognizing and treating a drug exposure that can rapidly become life-threatening.
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Published online: October 17, 2019
Accepted: June 29, 2019
Received in revised form: March 10, 2019
Received: January 19, 2019
© 2019 Published by Elsevier Inc.