Information courtesy of Karen Kanya-Darke, Master Kambo Practitioner and Trainer, founder of the International Association of Kambo Practitioners. See www.iakp.org for more information.
What Is Kambo?
Kambo is a secretion from a green tree frog, Phyllomedusa Bicolor, which lives in the upper areas of the Amazon Rainforest. It has no natural predators – even snakes spit it back out if they swallow them. They are found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, French Guiana, Suriname and Venezuela. The IUCN database lists them in the ‘Least Concern’ category in view of their wide distribution and large population. Kambo is completely legal everywhere in the world. The only restriction that exists is in Brazil where it is forbidden to advertise or market Kambo in order to restrict biopiracy.
A Kaxinawá legend tells that the Indians of the tribe were very ill and their medicine man (Pajé in Brazil) had done everything that was possible to cure them. All medicinal herbs known were used, but none helped. Under the effect of sacred plant medicines, he entered the forest and whilst there received a visit from the Grandmother. She brought in her hands a frog, from which she took a white secretion, and taught the Pajé how to apply it. Returning to the tribe and following the guidelines that he had received the Pajé was able to cure his brothers. From then on he was known as Pajé Kampu. After his death, his spirit lived on in the frog where it continued its mission to protect the health of those who defend the forest. The Indians continue to use its secretion to stay active and healthy. The secretion became known as Kambo but in some tribes it is called Sapo, Kampu or Vacina da Floresta. Its usage spread and it is still used widely amongst indigenous people in the Amazon to this day although the rituals vary from tribe to tribe.
How Is Kambo Harvested?
The frogs which are nocturnal and arboreal can be found in trees near the Igarapés (rainforest waterways) where they gather to sing and announce the rain. They are generally harvested at dawn by the Indians who also sing and imitate the frogs’ song. The frogs are very passive and do not react when picked up, possibly because they have no predators. The frogs are carefully tied by each leg with straw strings into an X shape. Sometimes a female shaman will massage the toes to encourage the secretion which is then carefully scraped off and dried on small sticks. After it is released the frog returns to its habitat none the worse for wear. The frog is never harmed but treated with utmost care and respect as the Indians believe that to harm the frog will anger the animal spirits that they live so closely with. Kambo collected in this way is considered 100% ethically harvested.
What Is It Used For?
The use of Kambo differs amongst tribes but the main indigenous uses revolve around lifting Panema – an indigenous name for dark or negative energy and for Hunting Magic – they believe it increases their speed and energy during hunting and that it makes the hunter invisible by temporarily eliminating their human odour. There are many ways they use it medicinally too, including: malaria, snake bites, fevers, infections, fertility problems, to cleanse, detox and strengthen the mind and body, to increase energy and stamina and to reduce pain.
Outside of the forest, Kambo has been the subject of more than two decades of medical research. As with venoms from snakes and scorpions, researchers believe that Kambo will open up a new world of treatments for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, Depression, Vascular problems, Hepatitis, Diabetes, Rheumatism, Arthritis, Addictions and much, much more. Their work consists of attempting to identify, isolate and reproduce the incredible and unique chemical cocktail that Kambo is. It contains dozens of Peptides (short chains of amino acids), some of them bioactive which means they have an affinity and selectivity for binding with cell receptor sites in humans (A receptor is like a lock that, when opened with the right key— the bioactive peptide—triggers specific chemical reactions in the body). For those of you who want to do more research, the peptide families represented in Kambo include bradykinins (phyllokinin), tachykinins (phyllomedusin), caerulein, sauvagine, tryptophyllins, dermorphins, deltorphins and bombesins. Recent studies have shown that Kambo contains multiple antimicrobial peptides effective against drug resistant strains of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, parasites and virus, providing opportunities for the development of new and more efficient nanotechnological-based therapies for treating infectious diseases. Several years of research by the University of Paris have shown the peptide Dermaseptin B2 to be super effective at killing cancer cells and Queens University in Belfast recently won a prestigious award for their ground breaking work with cancer and Kambô.
Kambo is one of the strongest natural anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antimicrobial and anaesthetic substances on the planet and one of the strongest, natural ways to strengthen the immune system. It also detoxes the liver and the intestines so it’s a powerful cleanser. Immediate and short term effects include enhanced mood, alertness, clarity, focus, energy and increased resistance to stress, tiredness, hunger and thirst. The mind becomes still, you feel lighter and everything becomes easier to manage. In the longer term, Kambo empowers the immune system, rousing the body’s defence systems to their natural functions so that existing health problems are improved or resolved and future ones are less likely to occur. In spiritual terms, Kambo works in a mystical fashion as a light that opens the way, helping us to overcome obstacles and release blockages on an emotional level. It clears our energy field and realigns the chakras enabling us to break negative habits and think more naturally.
Despite the billions of pounds/euros and dollars being poured into researching and developing mainstream synthetic medication from Phyllomedusa Bicolour frog secretions, no one has yet managed to reproduce the original! Kambo in its original, natural form is a holistic treatment that works on the mind, body, energy and spirit at all levels in ways that we don’t completely understand yet. The Indians are quite right to use the word ‘magic’ when describing this substance.
How is Kambo Used?
Kambo should always be taken with a properly trained person administering and supervising the treatments at all times.
Kambo is intense but fast. The unpleasant effects are strong and immediate but over within 30 – 40 minutes. The dried Kambo is mixed with a small amount of water and divided into small dots. Then small points called gates are placed into the surface of the skin. The points are approximately 1/8” across but can be smaller or slightly larger depending on the treatment. The top thin layer of skin is blistered with a hot stick and the skin is peeled off to expose the epidermis underneath – this is not as deep as when you have a blister and the skin rubs off. There is no blood. The number and position of the points varies from person to person depending on individual needs. If you have a series of treatments in the same session, the same points are reused. The small dots of Kambo are applied to the points. This is the only way to take Kambo – it is not safe to ingest it or introduce it into the blood stream directly. The Kambo enters directly into the Lymphatic System so the effect is
very fast. Most people experience a warm to hot flush on the upper body and face along with increased heart rate. At this point, different people will react in different ways. Some will feel dizzy, foggy or spaced out. Some people have swollen lips or face and slight skin tingling. The Kambo will be racing around your body, scanning it for problems and then going directly to work on those areas. You may experience a throbbing or burning sensation in those areas for a short while. Kambo is not psychoactive so does not produce hallucinations but can produce a short altered state of reality in some people and many people receive insights and messages about living a healthier life. Then you will purge all the toxins out. This purging process works on a physical and emotional level. You may feel tired at this point and need to rest. Within a short time – usually an hour or so you will feel much better and you can drink and eat normally. After 24 hours and a good night’s sleep you will start to feel the real benefits.
The burn marks will heal and fade with time but depending on your skin colour and type you may always have small visible scars. Most people see their Kambo scars as a badge of honour. The same points can be reused after approximately 3 months. After the dots of Kambo are removed, the points are dressed with Peruvian tree sap. This helps them to heal faster and ensures they stay free from infection until they scab naturally within a day or so.
Who Can’t Take Kambo?
Kambo has no known detrimental side effects so when it is responsibly administered it is completely safe. There are very few people who cannot take it but this is not an exhaustive list so please let us know beforehand if you have serious health problems. Treatment cannot be given to those who are or have had:
Breastfeeding a child under 1 year
Serious heart conditions, including pacemaker, valve disease, bypass surgery and enlarged heart
Extremely low blood pressure that is controlled by medication
Stroke or Aneurysm or Bleeding in the brain
Serious Mental Health conditions
Organ transplant surgery
If you are menstruating at the time of treatment, Kambo may well cause the flow to increase for 24- 36 hours because it contains powerful Vasodilators. If you are Asthmatic ensure that you have your inhaler with you. If you are Diabetic it’s important to discuss your treatment in advance.
You must inform us if you have ever or are currently suffering from a mental health condition, regardless of whether or not you are taking medication. The only exception to this is depression.
In most cases it is usually completely safe for you to continue taking your normal medication and supplements but please discuss this beforehand.
There will be time to discuss further, ask questions and set intentions at the beginning of the ceremony. If you have specific health problems then you may wish to discuss these privately beforehand. If you have serious health issues then you may benefit from more intensive treatments.
Kambo can be taken as a single or double treatment or as an intensive treatment which is three treatments in three hours. The more treatments you have, the deeper this medicine goes but everyone will benefit from a single session.
In the Brazilian Caboclo tradition, Kambo is also taken as a vaccine and is administered as 3 treatments over one moon cycle.
All first time users will be tested for sensitivity before treatments. Your reaction along with the practitioners experience, intuition and connection with the spirit of the medicine will determine the eventual number of points you receive. There is no set number – everyone is treated individually.
It is best to stay off salt and all solid foods (Light liquids are fine) for 8- 12 hours beforehand and alcohol and recreational drugs for 24 hours before and afterwards. Wear comfortable clothing, layers are best and remove tight or restrictive jewellery beforehand. Please bring a cushion, blanket or shawl for resting afterwards.