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How Can I Tell if the Microdosing Drops I Found Online Are Safe?

Have you heard of microdosing iboga? Specifically Tabernanthe manii, a form of iboga? If so, do you know anything about potential bad interactions with other medications?

I don’t know the answer to this question, so instead I’ll give a walk-through of how I’d try to find more information if I were you. 

The first place I’m starting is with the website linked in the question, which reads as one giant red flag. There’s no information whatsoever about who this company is run by, where it’s located, where they source their materials, their extraction processes, etc. This gives no credibility at all to their (far-reaching) claims – who wrote the content? What’s their background? How do you hold them accountable if their products are misleading, or otherwise harmful?

The evolution of public opinion about psychedelics has brought a vast market of shoddy claims, misinformation, marketing tactics, and other confidently-stated “facts” that have been pulled out of thin air. Statements, for example, like this one (from the website): “The Manii seems to work a bit like LSD, but with even more intelligence, unlocking neural pathways, reprogramming and rerouting how data flows within the complex nature of the human body.” 

What does this even mean?

Whenever I read fluffy, vague statements like this it immediately tells me that any information from the author isn’t to be trusted. These sentences are just words put together to look like they mean something important. The entire website is written like someone who’s describing a wild acid trip they had as a means of convincing other people they should do it too, without disclosing the source of the drugs being provided (and hiding their identity). 

My next step is a basic Google search of “Tabernanthe manii” to see what comes up. I’ll note here that it’s actually sometimes a good idea to use Bing or DuckDuckGo to avoid a results page that’s exclusively full of advertisements for recovery centers, which is typical with Googling things about drugs). There’s very little available. Most of what I’m able to find is either referencing the old French drug Lambaréné (not particularly helpful, given that it was only used 50-70 years ago) or is posted on “natural herbal life” type websites, which are prone to the same kind of fluffy, unsubstantiated language that the Tabernanthe website uses. Any direct references to “manii” are either on .net or .com websites, often ones that are selling guided retreats or services. 

Interestingly, one of the main results is for a series of Reddit threads of people inquiring about the validity of this very website and sharing their anecdotal experiences. I’m wondering how it’s being marketed and who it’s being targeted to, because it’s clearly working. Several people on one Reddit post comment that it’s “definitely psychoactive,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the product being advertised contains what it says it does.

A further search is for “Tabernanthe manii scientific journal.” This narrows down the results to actual scientific literature. Most of what I’m seeing is, again, about Lambaréné, or articles from the early to mid-2000s sharing information about addiction treatment with ibogaine. If I were going into this further I’d be opening each one of them in a new tab, reading the abstracts, considering the date and country of publication, and determining whether the methods used in any studies conducted are actually applicable to humans or are more proof-of-concept.

To be clear, this plant IS a real thing. There’s almost certainly something there. I don’t, however, trust the internet to produce a reliable source of a substance that may or may not have direct similarities to its better-understood cousin, Tabernanthe iboga.

In the meantime, taking anything on a daily basis has its potential risks and rewards, and we don’t have a clear idea of what those are for ibogaine, let alone something being sold as ibogaine on the internet, with no information about where it comes from. Case in point, OTC Rhino sex pills were found by the FDA to just contain generic Viagra

Excessive quantities of supplements, vitamins, and drugs in general, especially in combination with each other, might eventually cause kidney stones, metabolic interactions in the liver, and/or a toxic buildup in the case of certain drugs. Could microdosing ibogaine (the traditional version) damage heart valves over time? Other issues with metabolism? Prolonged changes in saliva production that lead to tooth decay? Who knows. It usually takes a long time to really understand the implications of taking something on a consistent daily basis. 

Drugs are complicated. Don’t trust websites that make it seem like they’re not. 

I’ve heard if you’re having a bad mushroom trip you should drink orange juice to help relieve symptoms. Is that true?

If you love orange juice, sure. Otherwise probably not. Orange juice contains citric acid, which can sometimes speed up the breakdown of certain substances as they enter the gut by increasing your gut acidity. An example of this is lemon tek, which would theoretically work (about half as well) with orange juice too because lemons have a pH of 2 and oranges have a pH of about 3.5. 

Once you’re already tripping, you have a pretty narrow window before the first part of digestion is complete and there’s not going to be a ton of changes to the way you metabolize psilocybin. Activated charcoal, for example, won’t impact any drugs present in someone’s bloodstream after they’re absorbed, so it has a short timeline to be administered. Same with citric acid to speed up drug breakdown. 

Orange juice does also contain vitamin C, which is cool, but probably not very relevant. Introducing sugar into your body might make you feel better temporarily if your blood sugar is low from not eating enough (or, of course, be dangerous if you’re diabetic). I can’t say with 100% certainty that there is absolutely no reason why this rumor started spreading, because there might be something I don’t know about or some science that hasn’t been elucidated yet. 

For the time being, I would just advise anyone doing any drug to try various things to respond to your body’s needs, which is one of the greatest lessons and gifts of getting high. 

I’ve heard microdosing coaches talk about 6 week “treatment plans” (or similar length), with a recommended 2-4 week period of not consuming psychedelics. Is that mostly due to building up a tolerance to the substance or another reason? I’ve heard that it’s “good to give your brain a rest” so it isn’t always in a malleable state, but is there any harm that can be done from not pausing a microdosing regimen?

I don’t think anyone really knows yet. Isn’t it unfortunate how often I have to say that? It’s true, though. Every week we discover something new about drugs, and there are still tons of barriers in place for having actual concrete data about what specific impacts are had by long-term use of most of them. 

A good example of this is ketamine, which has been pretty well understood in terms of its risks in surgical applications, but is pretty new in the world of drugs that people are consuming on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. We don’t know “how much is too much” on the road to developing ketamine bladder cystitis yet because the research hasn’t had time to catch up. 

Then there’s something like microdosing, where there are conflicting opinions on whether LSD’s activity at the 5-HT2b receptor (which is indicated in heart valve disease) could have any sort of long-term impact for people with or without preexisting conditions. The 5-HT2b receptor’s significance came to light after a slew of people taking Fen-Phen, a diet medication, developed heart conditions in the 90s. 

Will it be an issue with LSD if the doses are that small? If not, would issues arise eventually after continuous, unbroken exposure for many weeks, months, or even years? I’m not a pharmacologist, so I can’t say for sure, and I don’t think anyone else can yet either. There’s speculation, though.

I pretty much always err on the conservative side with daily use of anything, since there’s pretty rarely any actual science giving real hard guidelines on the risks. Most of what I’d imagine the 2-4 week recommendation comes from is either 1) subjective reports of diminishing returns when microdosing too often (which I have personally experienced and can attest to), 2) basic tolerance, and 3) an abundance of caution because of all the unknowns. 

Additionally, the phrase “microdosing coach” makes me immediately on edge. I’d like to know the specific qualifications that make this person capable of navigating such a complicated topic, and whether they are just psychedelic enthusiasts who experienced something positive and want to share it (for money, of course). For someone to be a “coach” around drugs, the number one most important thing that I’d look for is whether they are prioritizing talking about the mysteries and not the certainties. 

For example, is the person acknowledging the potential for metabolic interaction, which may or may not be important, but unless they’re a psychiatrist they probably wouldn’t know? Are they taking a complete health screening, including family history of mental health conditions? Charging high fees for their guidance? It worries me that the market for health coaches around drugs is so completely unregulated. I certainly hope the microdosing regimens being suggested are conservative, as such.

Now for my personal microdosing recommendation, based on no credentialing except that I love drugs, do them often, and am a professional drug educator with no medical background: Take 1/25th of a tab, or 3-8 micrograms, when you feel inspired to. Don’t microdose more than three days in a row. Take a week or two off every week or two. 

I have no idea if this regimen works in a meaningful way, just that it’s been nice to me, and probably has a lower risk of interaction because it doesn’t emphasize microdosing on a daily basis. In the absence of having actual guidance based on research, this is a more intuitive process that emphasizes learning about and responding to yourself. Good luck!

About Your Psychedelic Auntie

When we have questions about psychedelics, we often consult our Auntie. An Auntie can be a person of any gender who offers wise advice about psychedelic substances and how to effectively use them. Lucid News is asking a collection of well-informed people to step in as Auntie and answer your questions about psychedelics. Some of the best peer-based, accurate information about psychedelic substances and harm reduction comes from DanceSafe, a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1998. DanceSafe provides health and safety services at festivals and events. This month, our Psychedelic Auntie is DanceSafe Programs and Communications Coordinator Rachel Clark. Send your questions to the Psychedelic Auntie via the Lucid News contact page and watch this space for the answers.

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