Until I began researching for this article, I thought Kambo was just a fiction invented to spice up books and movies, or maybe a myth that had been passed down the generations. But as it turns out, it is much more than that.
It is a sacred and healing medicine that has been used by indigenous people for centuries. Secreted by the Kambo Frog, also known as the Giant Tree or Giant Monkey Frog, it is administered to the body via small burn wound openings created by trained shamans or practitioners. Some people refer to kambo as ‘nature’s most powerful vaccine.’
What Is The Purpose Of Kambo?
According to its proponents, Kambo resets both the body processes and the chakra system. Kambo is believed to be one of the strongest natural antibiotics and anesthetics in the world, and one of the best ways to increase and support our immune systems. Kambo treatments offer both short- and long-term health benefits.
Short term effects include a heightened sense of alertness, improved mood, concentration, and focus, and resistance to tiredness, hunger, and thirst. These effects can last from a few days up to a few weeks. Over the long term, kambo empowers the immune system, overcomes fatigue, and increases one’s overall health.
History Of Kambo
As with many traditional plant medicines, the origins of kambo’s usage are unknown. However, legend tells of an illness-stricken indigenous village and a shaman, named Kampu who was desperate to help them. The shaman had tried everything he could think of to heal the sick villagers — every known medicinal herb and plant — but failed time and again.
Then one night, while under the effects of ayahuasca (another sacred medicinal plant medicine), Kampu was visited by the Great God. The God brought forth a frog in his hands, from which he took a secretion and taught Kampu its secrets. After returning to the tribe and following the God’s instructions, Kampu was able to heal his people. Following his death, it was said that his spirit lived on in the frog, and the villagers continued to use its secretion to stay healthy.
Traditional Uses Of Kambo
The indigenous people of Brazil, Columbia, and the Amazon use Kambo as a traditional shamanic medicine to cure ailments such as headaches, allergies, thyroid problems, arthritis, and even addiction to certain pharmaceutical medication such as sleeping pills and anti-depressants.
They believe Kambo’s primary purpose is to remove panema, which essentially translates to bad luck, depression, laziness, sadness, or anything that causes any difficulty or disease. The perfect time to take Kambo, then, is when everything in a person’s life seems to be going poorly. In some tribes, kambo is even used as a tool to teach discipline to the young.
It is believed that Kambo treatment can essentially wake up the body to its full, natural potential.
How Does It Actually Work?
This indigenous medicine has been found to have nine powerful bioactive peptides. Scientific research on Kambo started in the 1980s. Italian scientist and Nobel price nominee Vittorio Erspamer wrote that this secretion contains a “fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications unequaled by any other amphibian.” The bioactive peptides bind with receptor sites in the brain and trigger intense chemical reactions in the body. They have been found to have a potent effect on the gastrointestinal muscles, gastric and pancreatic secretions, and blood circulation. They also stimulate the adrenal cortex and the pituitary gland.
One of these peptides — adenoregulin— was discovered in the 1990s by John Daly’s team at the National Institute of Health in the USA. It works in the human body through adenosine receptors, which help manage depression, stroke, seizures, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Spiritual Aspects Of The Giant Tree Frog
Although not a psychedelic, Kambo has many spiritual qualities as well, according to Marcelo Gomes who wrote an article titled “Kambo, the Spirit of the Shaman.” He writes that Kambo “establishes a spiritual ‘management chock’ in the life of people, a ‘chakra realignment’, a mark for organic and psychological reorganization, from which the person changes attitude and change their future patterns of health.”
The cleansing and purging properties of this medicine work on a physical and spiritual level. Much like ayahuasca, it is important to visualize releasing what no longer serves you and that which you desire to let go of while purging. The frog connects us with our innate wisdom, and can mirror our negative habits and provide insight into what we should avoid and how to effectively improve our connection. By removing the cloud of panema from our energy field we become more open to receiving messages from the Great Spirit and our own intuition.
How Are The Frogs Obtained And What Is Their Fate?
Amazonian indigenous tribes seek out these frogs, which can be found in the trees when they are singing, an announcement of rain to come. Members of the tribe harvest the frog at dawn. To obtain the medicine from the frog’s skin, the frog is stretched by strings tied to its arms and legs.
While this may sound uncomfortable, the frog is not harmed by the process and it is released promptly after its supplies are so generously donated. The secretion is often crystallized onto wooden sticks to be used later; the dried secretion is mixed with a few drops of water just prior to being administered.
It is important to the indigenous people that the frog is not harmed and is treated with utmost respect, as it is a spirit of the forest. Any harm done to this sacred frog could offend the animal and result in severe misfortune.
It Isn’t As Pleasant As It Sounds
While this may seem like an amazing way to boost your health, it is important to know that kambo treatment is in no way a pleasant experience. It is sometimes considered an ‘ordeal’ medicine, which, as you might have guessed, means the experience will be an ordeal you must suffer through.
Kambo has an intense cleansing and purgative effect on the body, so you can expect to feel nauseated during your session, potentially vomiting and eliminating in other ways. It increases your heartbeat, so your body temperature will rise and blood pressure will fall slightly. It is also possible that your face and body could swell up to resemble the Kambo frog!
Below is a video of my friend Luke Rudkowski from WeAreChange describing his experience with a Kambo treatment.
After treatment many people report feeling relaxed and at peace, and the next day, completely rejuvenated.
Unlike many other indigenous plant medicines that have been brought to the Western world, such as ayahuasca and san pedro, Kambo is legal in the United States, and therefore much easier to obtain. It is important to know, however, that Kambo is not for everyone and should be avoided altogether if you are pregnant or breast feeding, have heart problems of any kind, have high or low blood pressure, have had bypass surgery, or have any type of implant. The elderly, those undergoing chemotherapy, and the severely ill should also avoid it.
Only a trained shaman or professional should administer Kambo, as they are connected to the medicine and know how to dose correctly. Each person and their situation is different, and therefore will require a dose tailored to them.
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