A traditional African shaman explains why pills can never cure depression or PTSD
There is no way of knowing the full impact that depression, anxiety and PTSD have on our society and culture, but we do know that the prescribed solution of pharmaceuticals is not working to alleviate this problem.
The first antidepressant drug, an MOAI inhibitor, was developed in the 1950’s and originally used in the treatment of tuberculosis. In the 19080’s, the first SSRI inhibitor was developed, and today there are now 5 classes of antidepressants, which includes at least 32 different brand name drugs.
More Americans than ever take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, and according to a recent study, some 86% of people today will have met the criteria for at least two psychiatric diagnoses by the time they reach 45.
More drugs, more diagnoses, and more people dependent on doctors, pharmacies and pills. Something is not working.
Contrast this paradigm with traditional shamanism, in which shamans, working as healers, use plant medicines to diagnose the spiritual health of a person, and heal them permanently with ancient methods that still baffle modern science.
Of the shamanic plant medicines, iboga is particularly powerful at helping people to overcome PTSD, depression and anxiety. Its efficacy cannot be explained in scientific terms, which reduces chronic emotional and mental health issues down to brain chemistry, looking at the human being as a machine, then intervenes with chemicals.
This is categorically different than the work of shamanism, which generally views such mental health conditions as spiritual matters, and seeks to repair a person’s spirit from within.
“When we are talking about trauma, depression, and PTSD, they are not physical. Now days people need to think further… to understand that anything that is not physical is difficult… someone has to know where to look.” ~Moughenda Mikala, Bwiti Life
As a 10th generation Bwiti shaman working with an ancient plant medicine, Mikala uses traditional shamanic methods to assess and heal people on a spiritual level, which addresses the roots of mental health problems rather than attempting only to manage the symptoms of such disorders.
“The way I handle these issues, or with my guests coming to me, I don’t focus on the physical level, because trauma… mainly affects the mind, and that’s what we’re talking about, the mind being a spiritual issue. So, the way I address that, I will launch someone on a psycho-spiritual journey… and before the spycho-spiritual journey, I will launch them on a psycho-detox.”
Mikala is referring to ceremonies, in which participants ingest the alkaloid rich root bark of the iboga shrub, which triggers a body trance and sets off an inward psychological journey. The psycho-detox is very common with first-time Western participants, and typically causes the participant to enter a foggy, trance-like state for hours where they begin to see from within the workings of their mind, including thought patterns and belief systems.
The psycho-spiritual journey Mikala mentions is a second experience with iboga, in which after detoxifying the mind in a first ceremony, the participant typically is launched into a surreal journey into the subconscious mind and is able to clearly review one’s life and make a direct, impressionable connection to their own soul.
It is this experience which Mikala says heals the wounds that cause depression, anxiety and PTSD.
“The psycho-detox is kind of addressing the mind, and to detox the mind that means we reach a level to empty all of this trauma… it could be stress or any other forced beliefs… the garbage. And then, we have to take that person back to the very first day when that trauma started. It’s what I call a life-review… you don’t just do that from the mind, you have to actually go there live to the first day where everything started. It could be a rape… and a lot of women are still suffering from it. And the problem is they’ve been running from the pain, the fear, the everything.” ~ Moughenda Mikala
Because the trauma that leads to PTSD and depression lives within the mind, potentially for one’s entire life, the images and memories of traumatic experiences, like combat, are revisited over and again by the mind.
Pharmaceutical pills only cover up these images, causing people to lose everything, including joy and possibly life itself.
“So healing someone from trauma, PTSD or depression, there’s only one way. That is the traditional way. We have the best way to heal the mind. No pills. Pills won’t heal any mind, I don’t care how many years you’re going to be taking those pills, they won’t heal you, because not a single pill will be able to take you to a spiritual trip where you meet your soul face-to-face and have a long conversation with it.” ~Moughenda Mikala
Mikala further explains that this experience helps people to recognize what it is that caused their trauma and allows them to look at it up close and accept it as part of their lives, and then move on.
Having personally experienced this, and personally knowing Moughenda, I can say that the experience of iboga, when conducted ceremonially with properly trained healers and facilitators, is exceptionally extraordinary and leaves a lasting impression which, over time, continues to positively influence mental and spiritual health.