Medicinal Apocynaceae

Perhaps no other family of flowering plants has aroused more interest in the field of pharmacological research than the Apocynaceae, the only family that abounds with indole alkaloids of proven clinical value. An interesting aspect in this field of neuropharmacological research is the fact that Apocynaceae elaborate Iboga alkaloids, which are present particularly in the genus Tabernanthe, and principally in a Central African shrub Tabernanthe iboga. The roots are chewed by the natives to offset hunger and fatigue, and large doses produce excitement, mental confusion, and a drunken madness characterized by prophetic utterances (11).

Tabernanthe iboga contains a series of alkaloids including Ibogaine and tabernan-thine. Ibogaine was isolated in 1901, is like serotonin and harmine, and has attracted a great deal of interest on account of its capability to reduce drug craving. The mechanism underlying this effect may result from a regulator of the serotoninergic system that, in turn, regulates dopamine release (12).

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