Last updated: July 2023 / Editor’s note: This is a sponsored feature we are thrilled to bring to you in partnership with Root Healing.
In enigmatic Chiang Mai, Thailand and storied Sintra, Portugal, the concept of wellness goes far beyond simply catching up on R&R. In these lush locales – amidst rolling verdant hillside, majestic mountaintops and enchanting temples and palaces – a pioneering psychedelic wellness retreat is transforming mind, body and soul by taking guests to their roots. Literally.
Said pioneer? Root Healing Iboga Retreat and Detox Center, offering long-term holistic healing and renewal through the use of science-backed psychedelic plant medicine. Specifically, iboga and in some cases, its powerful alkaloid ibogaine.
Iboga is a naturally occurring psychoactive compound found in the root bark of Tabernanthe iboga, a wild shrub endemic to West Africa. Here, in the jungles of Gabon, iboga has been consumed for centuries by the native Bwiti people in healing ceremonies, spiritual rituals and rites of passage.
The therapeutic properties of iboga first landed on the consumer radar in the 1930s, when purified ibogaine hydrochloride was sold in Europe as an antidepressant. Ibogaine’s potential to interrupt drug addiction was later discovered in 1962. Since then, clinical studies have shown that the psychedelic can have powerful healing effects not only on depression and addiction, but also anxiety, PTSD, auto-immune disease and even traumatic brain injury.
Disclosure: The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be taken as nor substituted for medical or psychological advice. Always consult with your own medical and psychological teams prior to undergoing any psychedelic treatment.
Commonly compared to another plant-based psychedelic, ayahuasca, Root Healing Founder and Iboga Provider Ryan “Ghenigho” Rich clarifies:
“Ayahuasca sends you out and iboga brings you inward. While ayahuasca takes you up into the cosmos, iboga takes you down to the roots, grounding you into yourself, the earth, and reality.”Ryan “Ghenigho” Rich, Root Healing Founder & Iboga Provider
At Root Healing Sintra and Chiang Mai, guests can experience iboga-assisted wellness by joining one of the center’s transformative, 8-day Psychospiritual Retreats. Each retreat puts safety first, counting comprehensive medical screenings and monitoring, pre-retreat preparation counseling and committed post-retreat integration for a period of 6 – 12 months.
Comprehensive staffing includes Ryan and his team of highly trained iboga providers – all of whom have studied and learnt the craft directly from the Bwiti – in addition to an on-staff PhD neuroscientist, MSN RN and more dedicated medical and hospitality support pairing western medicine with the holistic iboga experience.
Left, Root Healing Founder and Iboga Provider Ryan “Ghenigho” Rich with a Bwiti member in Gabon, West Africa. Right, Ryan with the Root Healing team. Photos: Root Healing
Two iboga ceremonies are held during each retreat. Steeped in the centuries-old Missoko Bwiti tradition, these authentic and transcendental experiences help guests heal, let go of the past and uncover deeply rooted, personal insights. The plant medicine used for each ceremony is sustainably and ethically sourced directly from the Bwiti people in Gabon.
“Iboga breaks down the idea of who you think you are, so it can make room for who you’ve always been. Transformational experience.”Says Kinsey, a recent Root Healing retreat participant in his verified Trustpilot review.
The setting? In Sintra, a private Portuguese quinta effectively acting as a refuge for safe, nurturing and remarkable transformation. Think: winding on-property nature trails, airy communal areas, peaceful yoga and meditation spaces and a spa center with gym, sauna and massage rooms. Plus, a glistening swimming pool fed by the region’s famed, natural healing spring water. Spectacular scenery extends beyond the property to ocean and sunset views, not to mention the magical sight of nearby Pena Palace and Castle of the Moors – both illuminated at night.
Luxurious accommodations range from private suites to shared rooms to A-frame bungalows overlooking the property’s idyllic fruit groves, even kitchen-equipped apartments for longer stays. Healthy meals are chef-prepared daily with locally sourced, organic ingredients.
A 20 minute ride from Chiang Mai Airport brings you to Root Healing’s tranquil Thai retreat. At just 25 minutes from the city’s storied Old Town, this healing haven is close enough to the action while feeling worlds away.
Imagine: a lakeside setting nestled within the region’s majestic mountains, boasting lush scenery and verdant views at every turn. Soak in the magic on your suite’s private porch, amongst peaceful gardens or by the meditative lake. Nourishing meals and wholesome snacks – underscored by the region’s fresh local fruit and exotic produce – are always on hand.
Root Healing’s all-inclusive iboga experiences further include fireside Bwiti teachings, therapeutic massages and active excursions like hiking and biking. Plus, integration day trips to nearby points of interest in enchanting Chiang Mai or UNESCO-designated Sintra.
For those looking for significant relief from substance addiction, Root Healing further offers iboga-assisted detox programs. In this longer-term program (2-4 weeks), the initial detox treatment is followed by deeper healing of the root causes of the addiction, allowing people to return back to their lives with stronger foundations in healthier habits.