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  • Writer's pictureJohn Heart

The Difference Between Ayahuasca and Iboga

Taking a look at the psychedelic parents

Ayahuasca and Iboga are both strong entheogens (psychedelics) and they are often referred to as the parents among the plant teachers. Mama Ayahuasca is gentle and nurturing, and Papa Iboga is strict and direct.

What is the difference between Ayahuasca and Iboga?

Ella and I took part in an Ayahuasca ceremony in early 2017 and an Iboga ceremony in early 2018. It took me a few years to process each experience, but would I do them again?

Ayahuasca and Iboga both teach their very important lessons in completely different but effective ways.


The ceremony started at 9 in the morning after weeks of sticking to a strict diet and a few days of awkward group activities. It was a group of over 20 people and 7 guides so the first few days were spent getting comfortable with each other before embarking on a deeply personal journey while lying in a room together. The ayahuasca was a green, slightly bitter liquid, after the initial discomfort and throwing up I had a very deep and pleasant experience for about 6-8 hours.

It all started with my body going numb and my spirit ascending, then soaring through kaleidoscope plains, with bright colors and a warm, loving feeling.

I felt like I was peter pan returning to Neverland for the first time in ages, like in the movie Hook. I had this sense that there was a large presence there with me, watching over me, like a giant, ghost, guardian, Mama Ayahuasca herself. I felt loved and accepted and safe.

Coming away from the Ayahuasca ceremony it took me a while to adjust to the reality we live in, I was a little saddened by the fact that our world is in the state that it is in. It definitely changed the way I perceive my life, a fantastic experience.


Iboga is not as well known as Ayahuasca and often completely legal because of that. It originates from Gabon in Africa and is used by the Bwiti which is a tribe formed around Iboga.

The ceremony took place over a few days with the flood dose taken on the first evening and more doses taken on the following nights. Iboga is the root bark from a tree which is ground up and so you have to chew and swallow big spoonfuls of ground-up wood. There was quite a bit of discomfort getting it down and the throwing up was also not pleasant.

Iboga was a much more visceral experience all round, my spirit wasn’t drifted away to dance through an endless rainbow sky, it stayed in my body and experienced an uncomfortable process.

I felt nauseous and tired but couldn’t sleep while lying on my mattress. When I closed my eyes I would witness the most insane, high-definition hallucinations, it was like watching a movie filmed from an interdimensional bullet’s perspective as it shot through the multiverse.

The ceremony was wonderful, and included an individual fire ceremony and dance. The team was fantastic and guided all of us safely through the intense journey.

After Iboga I was quite happy to be back and appreciated the living experience more, Iboga changed something fundamental in me. I feel like my life is split between the time before and after this experience. Iboga is a fantastic substance that I like to microdose sometimes, it is very helpful for getting over patterns and focusing on what is important.

Would I do them again?

Yes, of course. They were both wonderful experiences that helped me get further in life. I am really looking forward to my next Ayahuasca ceremony as there was this feeling of pure bliss, but I am a little nervous about another iboga flood dose because it was a tough but amazing experience.

Have you tried either Ayahuasca or Iboga? Have you been considering them?

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice. Please do your own research. I don't promote the use of illegal drugs.

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