How Plant Medicine Saved My Life
Updated: Apr 28, 2019
Here is an article I wrote for The Mind Unleashed about my own journey with plant medicine and the incredible ways in which they transformed my life.
I can say with complete conviction that ibogaine and ayahuasca saved my life. After 5 years of destruction and a living what could hardly be called a life, I found out about ibogaine. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it living; existing is a much more appropriate term because I wasn’t living, I was slowly killing myself. Heroin addiction felt like a prison, one I never thought I could be free from, so when I received a phone call from my sister telling my about a hallucinogen from Africa that could cure my addition, my whole world changed.
I set off to Costa Rica for ibogaine treatment. Getting off the plane I was nervous and hopeful but not entirely sure I was ready to leave drugs behind. I had tried everything up to this point; rehabs, Methadone, Suboxone, cold turkey detoxes, a Naltrexone implant in my stomach, halfway homes and none of it worked. It made me feel like I was destined to be an addict forever. My depression also made it difficult for me to believe I deserved a better life.
There was something inside of me that constantly reinforced the notion that I just wasn’t fit for life, that there was something inherently wrong with me.
Ibogaine changed all of that. It’s difficult to describe. I went into treatment not knowing much about the ceremonial or spiritual aspect of it. Being atheist, I was quite skeptical of anything ‘spiritual’. Just that word turned me off, yet I had always been fascinated by ancient religions and ceremonial practices. I didn’t necessarily believe in them, but there was always something that pulled me toward them. I desperately wanted to feel connected to something; I just couldn’t bring myself to buy into the idea of God presented by most organized religions.
Ibogaine changed something in me. It wasn’t an all at once; I had no epiphanies or revelations. It was gradual, but I could feel it, and it gave me the insight that going home was a bad idea. I skipped out on my return flight and found a family to live with in Costa Rica while I did some more soul searching. I felt like ibogaine had opened this door of opportunity but it was up to me to do the work to get to where I wanted to be, and there was a lot of work to do.
Less than a week after completing my ibogaine treatment, I went to an ayahuasca ceremony. Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic brew used by people of the Amazonian region of South America for general healing of the mind, body and spirit. There are no words to describe the peace, empowerment, wholeness and connections I felt during my ayahuasca experience..
For the first time in my life, I understood gratitude. I understood love. I understood nature. I understood people. I understood life. I understood God.
rom that night forward, my entire idea of spirituality had changed and I knew I could never go back to the life I used to know.
Ibogaine and ayahuasca gave me the opportunity to reclaim my freedom and find something I could really believe in. They changed the chemistry of my brain, the way I think, the way I process things, the way I respond to situations, the way I feel about life and, most importantly, the way I feel about myself.
I finally, for the first time I can ever remember, feel that life is worth living. I feel proud of whom I am, I feel happy and confident with myself inside and out.
My depression is gone. I see each new day as a beautiful opportunity, rather than a burden I have to suffer through.
Ibogaine allowed me to detox relatively painlessly without suffering through withdrawal. It introduced me to the African spiritual tradition Bwiti, which uses iboga as a sacrament and focuses on becoming the best possible version of yourself. Ayahuasca opened my eyes to spirituality, the beauty of life and how to feel gratitude. Together, they allowed me to heal both physically and emotionally and start a new life I could be proud of.
Through a lot of determination and hard work, I’ve made it to where I am today; director of New Life Iboga and New Life Ayahuasca. Myself and my partner, Matt (who was treated for opiate addiction on HBO’s VICE episode on ibogaine), have spent the last few months developing a two week program with our sister programs through New Life Iboga that incorporate ibogaine and ayahuasca so that others can experience the incredible healing and benefits that both plant medicines offer. Ibogaine treatment and ayahuasca retreats are also both offered individually at our shared facility in Costa Rica. My story is a true testament to the power of both ibogaine and ayahuasca.
Jeanae and Matt went on to marry in Gabon, Africa after Matt's initiation into Bwiti using the sacred wood iboga. They chose to marry in Africa because their initial bond was developed through iboga. They continue to run New Life Ayahuasca and host retreats year round in Costa Rica.