A 42-year old woman from Norway who came to Costa Rica in search of a controversial addiction treatment suffered a fatal heart attack after ingesting ibogaine, a hallucinogenic substance derived from plants native to Western Africa. According to a news report filed by David Delgado of national newspaper La Nacion, the Norwegian woman passed away in 2014, but her cause of death was recently confirmed by forensic officials.
The treatment center where this medical tourist, who was identified by La Nacion as Bente Solberg, passed away did not continue to operate after the incident. The Iboga House Center was located in Cañas Dulces, a town not far from the city of Liberia in the province of Guanacaste. Ms. Soldberg was not the only medical tourist to die at the Iboga House Center; La Nacion also mentioned a case in early 2013; however, a toxicology report was not conclusive insofar as detecting the presence of ibogaine.
It so happens that the operations of the former Iboga House Center have been absorbed into the posh Rythmia Life Advancement Center of Guanacaste, where reality television star Scott Disick of the popular series Keeping Up with the Kardashians was reported to have been recently admitted. As previously reported by The Costa Rica Star, Mr. Disick has three children with Kourtney Kardashian and is battling alcoholism.
Earlier this year, The Costa Rica Star reported on the polemic use of ibogaine to treat heroin addictions, a condition that is reaching troubling levels in the United States:
In Costa Rica, a couple of clinics offer a controversial treatment for heroin addicts that consists of taking certain amounts of Ibogaine, a substance extracted from a few plants (mostly Tabernanthe iboga) that are native to Western Africa. Ibogaine is extracted from these flowering shrubs, and the result is a substance with psychoactive and psychedelic properties. Research on the therapeutic potential of Ibogaine indicates that the substance can be used to help heroin and opiate addicts to overcome their patterns of abuse.
In a 2014 interview published by Complex magazine, United States citizen Dimitri Mugianis explained that he made the decision to open a clinic in Costa Rica after his 2011 arrest in the U.S. for providing Ibogaine to an addict he intended to help. In 2013, the Village Voice reported on the burgeoning use of ibogaine:
Scientists are working to isolate the active compounds in ibogaine to maximize the anti-addiction properties while eliminating the hallucinations and other unpleasant side effects. In the meantime, a handful of posh rehab resorts in Mexico, Costa Rica, and elsewhere meet the demand for ibogaine treatment by offering weeklong therapy sessions that can cost thousands. For more information about medically supervised, more traditional and safe rehab treatment, see https://costaricatreatmentcenter.com