top of page

The little known difference between Iboga and Ayahuasca

Psychedelic plant medicine is having a moment in our society. With more people seeking psychedelics and shamanic ceremonies as an alternative way to promote healing and expand consciousness, many are asking “Which plant medicine is right for me?”. 


Ayahuasca and iboga are both common paths of psychedelic expansion and healing. They are often compared to one another but actually have very little in common. Both of these sacred plants may help you gain a deeper understanding of your inner self and your connection to the world, but that’s about as far as their similarities go. 


So what are the differences between ayahuasca and iboga? And which path of healing should you take? Let this serve as your guide to choosing the plant medicine that is right for you. 

What is Ayahuasca?

Ayahuasca is the combined infusion of leaves from the Psychotria Viridis shrub and stalks of the Banisteriopsis Caapi vine. This plant medicine is believed to have been first used by indigenous Amazonians over 1,000 years ago. Since then, shamanic ayahuasca ceremonies have spread throughout the world.  


The powerful hallucinogenic effects of ayahuasca are due to its active ingredient N, N-Dimethyltryptamine, better known as DMT. This natural compound creates vivid psychedelic visions of colorful sacred geometry. During your trip, you may have otherworldly encounters that transcend the physical world. 


Ayahuasca is the divine feminine energy and its effects are often described as motherly. Some users feel that ayahuasca guides them through visions like a loving mother guides a child.  


An ayahuasca trip is an external experience. You feel a profound connection to all beings and the world that go beyond the physical. You shed the ego and become attuned to universal truth. For many, these sensations bring peace of mind, unconditional love for all, and acceptance of the cycle of life. 


What is Iboga?

Iboga is a psychoactive alkaloid that’s naturally found in the roots of the Tabernanthe Iboga shrub. Natives of the Bwiti of West Africa traditionally used iboga in healing ceremonies and initiation rituals for centuries. Like ayahuasca, the shamanic healing benefits of iboga are now reaped across the globe. 


You may not always experience visions on an iboga journey. But when you do, they’re realistic. You might revisit moments from your past through your mind’s eye. Comparable to watching a movie of your memories playing on a screen. 


Though many would describe iboga as masculine energy, it actually contains both masculine and feminine energy. Iboga is very direct with its teachings. It doesn’t sugar-coat its messages. If ayahuasca is a gentle mother figure, iboga is a stern father figure. 


An iboga trip takes you on an internal journey. It connects you to your personal truth at the core of your being. Iboga may help you face the roots of your shadow self and unhealthy attachments. Its aim is to help you face your inner demons without judgment so you can accept them and ultimately let them go. 

Similarities between Iboga and Ayahuasca

Though iboga and ayahuasca are often compared, they only have a few things in common. Traditionally, they’ve both been used in ritual ceremonies by native Africans and South Americans for thousands of years. Today, with more people searching for divine wisdom and transformation, many seek iboga and ayahuasca ceremonies for self-exploration.


Iboga and ayahuasca are both entheogens, or psychoactive plants used to alter consciousness for the purpose of spiritual healing and awakening. And they often act as a catalyst for deep, spiritual transformation. 


Both plant medicines may be beneficial for treating a vast amount of mental health issues including:



Some former users claim that iboga is more effective for treating addiction than ayahuasca. 


Healing and awakening are a shared mission of Iboga and ayahuasca. Both plant medicines connect you to universal truth, whether it be internal or external. These connections may help you shed limiting beliefs, let go of the past, and heal trauma. 






End of Life Distress


Beautiful Nature

Differences between Iboga and Ayahuasca

So far you’ve learned that iboga hails from Africa while ayahuasca hails from South America. And iboga is an internal experience while ayahuasca is an external experience. But what are some of their other differences?


For starters, let’s look at their ceremonial differences. Iboga shamanic ceremonies are typically small and intimate. They usually only have two to ten participants. Ayahuasca ceremonies are larger with 12 to 40 participants. The effects of iboga peak for 12 to 18 hours while ayahuasca peaks for six to eight hours. 


As far as preparing for each shamanic ceremony, iboga doesn’t require any diet or lifestyle changes. On the other hand, it’s often recommended to abstain from alcohol, drugs, sex, cigarettes, and caffeine before an ayahuasca ceremony. Some retreat centers may suggest adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet for at least two weeks prior to taking ayahuasca. 


Why Discover the Root Offers Iboga Healing Ceremonies

Iboga and ayahuasca both offer powerful mental and spiritual healing benefits. Here at Discover the Root, we offer iboga shamanic healing ceremonies to help promote deep transformation. 


We have personally witnessed iboga spark positive change and growth. We’ve seen dozens of people conquer self-destructive habits and release unhealthy attachments with iboga healing ceremonies. 


Iboga may help you find your true self and answer some of life’s big questions. If you are looking to go deeper and face the roots of your shadow self to promote lasting healing, iboga may be the path for you. 


The decision to participate in an iboga ceremony is incredibly personal. If you tune in and listen to your intuition, you will hear whether or not this sacred plant medicine is calling to you. And while no one can make this decision for you, know that you are welcome to attend an iboga healing ceremony with Discover the Root. 

Are you ready to Discover the Root?

bottom of page