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Howard Lotsof
Photo by Anonymous, 2003
Howard Lotsof
Photo detail from The Ibogaine Story
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Howard S. Lotsof
Summary
Howard Lotsof was a well-known proponent of ibogaine, the primary psychoactive component of the inner root-bark of Tabernanthe iboga (used in traditional spiritual/healing rituals). In 1962, Lotsof was a 19-year-old heroin addict living in New Jersey. Over breakfast at the home of a chemist friend, he was presented with a vial of ibogaine that his friend grabbed from the freezer. Telling Lotsof that he would be interested in it, the chemist remarked, "It's an African hallucinogen, and it lasts 36 hours." Eventually Lotsof got around to taking the drug. After his very long trip, Lotsof was exhausted and he swore off ibogaine forever, just before noticing that he had not gone into narcotic withdrawal during the entire experience. Along with the lack of withdrawal symptoms, ibogaine's psychoactive effects allowed Lotsof to view the world without fearing it--something he realized he had previously been unable to do during his life.

Lotsof had serendipitously discovered that ibogaine could act as an addiction interruptor. Advocates of this use believe that ibogaine "resets" the brain via some pharmacological mechanism, while its visionary effects allow a sort of "life review" helpful in breaking negative behavior patterns. As a psychotherapeutic tool, Lotsof felt that ibogaine was "the most dramatic drug, without equal." At the end of one of his visions, Lotsof heard a voice that told him, "You will bring ibogaine to the world, and set it free."

Active in the civil rights and free speech movements of the mid-1960s, Lotsoff was arrested in 1967 and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for misdemeanor charges related to his drug activities. Following his later experience of being addicted to--and slowly kicking--methadone (the government-approved "treatment" for opiate addiction), the goal of making ibogaine a medically available drug became Lotsof's mission in life. Lotsof was President of the Dora Weiner Foundation, named after his grandmother; he set up this charitable organization in 1983 to help fund ibogaine research. On February 12, 1985, Lotsof was awarded a U.S. patent for the use of ibogaine as a narcotic addiction interruptor. Although he had a difficult time raising funds, one ardent supporter was underground therapist Leo Zeff, "The Secret Chief", who had used ibogaine with good psychotherapeutic effects on his patients. Zeff gave Lotsof $25,000, which was used in 1987 to hold the first international ibogaine symposium in Paris, bringing together the world's foremost experts on the drug. From 1984 to 1991 Lotsof tried to get the National Institute on Drug Abuse to consider ibogaine's potential for treating addiction. Finally, in the early 1990s, the Medications Development Division of NIDA began to look into methodological designs for studies into ibogaine's safety. For over two-and-a-half decades, Lotsof continued to be active in promoting ibogaine as a treatment for addiction. Lotsof beat a battle with leukemia in 2001, but passed away in 2010 from liver cancer.

Author of (Articles) #
  • The Ibogaine Medical Subculture (with K.R. Alper and C.D. Kaplan), Journal of Ethnopharmacology 115:9-24 (2008)
  • Ibogaine in the Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C (powerpoint), presented at the Invitational Ibogaine Forum Warsaw (2007)
  • Ibogaine Therapy: Forms and Dose Regimens (powerpoint) (2003-2005)
  • Manual for Ibogaine Therapy: Screening, Safety, Monitoring & Aftercare (with B. Wachtel), Second Revision (2003)
  • Foreword for The Healing Journey by C. Naranjo (2001)
  • Case Studies of Ibogaine Treatment: Implications for Patient Management Strategies (with N.E. Alexander), Chapter 16 from The Alkaloids, 56:293-313 (2001)
  • Treatment of Acute Opioid Withdrawal with Ibogaine (with K.R. Alper, G. Frenken, D.J. Luciano & J. Bastiaans), The American Journal on Addictions 8:234-42 (1999)
  • Ibogaine, Trauma, and Abreaction: The Treatment of Chemical Dependence (with C.A. Smith & J. Bastiaans) (1996)
  • Ibogaine in the Treatment of Chemical Dependence Disorders: Clinical Perspectives, A Preliminary Review (1994)
  • Development of Ibogaine to Treat Addiction (no date)
  • Ibogaine: To Have or Have Not. A Review of the Historical, Legal and Ethical Implications of Returning Control of Ibogaine to Drug Users (no date)
  • Remembrances
  • New York Times Obituary for Howard Lotsof, Feb 17 2010