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Voacanga Africana is a small tree native to the rich and moist soils of the tropical and subtropical forests of West Africa. From the first look, people would mistake it for just another ornamental plant in their garden. Voacanga Africana could grow up to heights of 6m, its leaves are long, lush ovals and its flowers are like little snowflakes, white or yellow depending on the specimen. The fruits of Voacanga Africana resemble large, freckled field beans that, once ripe, open up into two halves. Animals then feed upon the yellow pulp, ultimately allowing the plant species to spread its seeds. Since its discovery in 1894, Voacanga Africana was considered to be merely a simple tropical shrub all the way up till WWII.

It is only recently that people studying the properties of psychedelic plants have taken it upon themselves to unveil the psychedelic potential of Voacanga Africana. Rumors spread across the internet about faraway places where its bark, roots, and seeds were used by local people as a poison, aphrodisiac, stimulant, and even ceremonial psychedelic. It’s still left to discover if there is any truth to these claims?

Certain chemical compounds are found in Voacanga Africana in varying percentages including ibogaine. These alkaloids present in Voacanga Africana will include: voacamine (7.2%), voacangine (5.6%), voacristine (4.0%), voacorine (3.7%), vobtusin (0.4%), tabersonine (3.5%), ibogaine (0.4%) and vobasine (1.6%).

In particular, Voacamine is a powerful cardiotonic stimulant while Voacangine is also a well-known psychoactive agent. The chemical structures of both alkaloids resemble another spectacular substance present in the voacanga Africana plant known to be ibogaine. Although the action is not yet fully understood, ibogaine is believed to be effective in modulating neuronal excitability and synaptic transmission, and in acting as a natural stimulant against fatigue. In large doses, ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic that gives rise to a dreamlike and introspective experience. Of the overall alkaloid mix, 5–10% is contained in the root bark (the so-called root epidermis), 4–5% is contained in the bark of the trunk, 1.5% is in the seeds, and 0.30–0.45% is in the leaves.

Voacanga Africana also known commonly as Voacanga or “Kakapenpen” is a medicinal plant held in high esteem in most West African countries like Cameroon and Gabon. The plant is used in treating diseases like gonorrhea, eczema, fungal infection, scabies, malaria, diarrhea, heartaches, etc. The seeds of the voacanga Africana plant are rich in fats and oils. Oils extracted from the seeds are very nutritious and are used in the cosmetic industry. At present the Voacanga Africana has both industrial (production of latex) and medicinal applications. Shamans from West Africa used the bark of this tree as a brain stimulant, the roots were used as a stimulant during long hunts, while the seeds were used for visionary purposes.

The seeds of the Voacanga Africana contain some indole alkaloids, including voacangine (carbomethoxy-ibogaine), voacamina, and related substances.

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