African plant could be part of Kentucky’s solution to opioid epidemic

African plant could be part of Kentucky’s solution to opioid epidemic
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 4:18 PM EDT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission shared plans Wednesday morning to explore new therapeutic treatment options for those who suffer from opioid addiction.

One possible solution can be found in a West African plant called ibogaine.

The announcement was made on the steps of the State Capitol in front of people whose lives have been impacted by this epidemic as well as those who run treatment centers for opioid substance abuse.

A few of the speakers were military veterans who were hooked on opioids, and they gave their testimony in favor of ibogaine, saying the treatment has turned their life around by suppressing their addiction.

However, they had to travel out of the country to get the medicine. Right now, it has not been approved by the FDA.

Susan Ousterman wishes her son, Tyler Cordeiro, could have gotten ibogaine treatment three years ago. He died of an opioid overdose.

“Tyler, he needed that reset to cut off the withdrawal symptoms in order to clear his head and move forward,” Ousterman said.

Ousterman is frustrated by the FDA’s lack of urgency.

“When I think about the loss of lives, I don’t sleep at night, said Ousterman. “300 people a day in this country are dying.”

Kentucky ranks second in the country in per capita death rate of opioid overdoses.

The potential risks of ibogaine include memory loss, nausea and slow heart rhythm.