'Kambo' or 'Sapo' is the name given to the highly toxic secretion from a green tree frog found in the upper areas of the Amazon Rainforest.
They can be found living in, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, French Guiana, Suriname and Venezuela. They are listed in the ‘Least Concern’ category by The IUCN database in view of their wide distribution and large population. The only threat to their survival is the destruction of their habitat.
Although Kambo has been used traditionally by tribes for many years within the rainforest the first recorded observations were by Father Constantin Tastevin, a French priest, in 1925 whilst he was living with the Kaxinawá tribe in Brazil. Katherine Milton, an Anthropologist from America, described Kambo use among the Mayoruna tribe in Brazil in the 1980s and Peter Gorman recorded his use of Kambo within the Matse Tribe in Peru around this time.
Since then Kambo use has become widely used beyond the forest. Ceremonies facilitated by trained healers are carried out all around the world.
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.
Vittorio Erspamer, an Italian scientist, was the first person to analyse Kambo in a laboratory. Erspamer was twice nominated for a Nobel Prize and was also the person who discovered Serotonin. In 1986, he wrote that the secretion from the Phyllomedusa Bicolor (the frog's scientific name) contains a ‘fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unequalled by any other amphibian’. The chemicals that he referred to were peptides.
Peptides are short chains of amino acids, a chain of 50 or more peptides creates a protein/ There are several of these found in the secretion of the Kambo frog.
Some peptides are bioactive which means they have an affinity and selectivity for binding with receptor sites in humans. A receptor site on a human cell is like a lock that is opened by the bioactive peptide which acts similar to a key, this triggers a specific chemical reaction in the body.
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.
Some of the peptide families represented in Kambo include bradykinins (phyllokinin), tachykinins (phyllomedusin), caerulein, sauvagine, tryptophyllins, dermorphins, deltorphins and bombesins.
Researchers believe that Kambo will open up a new world of treatments for many diseases such as addictions, arthritis, alzheimer's, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, depression, diabetes and more.
Kambo uses amongst tribes
The tribes in the Amazon have three main uses for Kambo. Firstly, it is believed to relieve 'panema' an indigenous name given to dark or negative energy which is said to be lifted from a person when Kambo is used.
Secondly, they use is it for 'hunting magic'. Tribes believe that when they receive Kambo their speed, energy, endurance and stamina is enhanced during hunting and that they are working with the spirit, which allows them to have a deeper affinity with the energies of the forest. Some even believe that it makes the hunter invisible by temporarily eliminating their human odour.
The third is using Kambo medicinally. Some tribes believe that Kambo strengthens their immune system protecting them against malaria, snake bites, fevers and infections. It is also said to be used for fertility problems and to strengthen and clear the mind.
The legend of Pajé Kampu
A Kaxinawá legend tells the story of the origin of Kambo began when most of their tribe were very ill and their medicine man ('Pajé' in Brazil) had tried everything that was possible to cure them. All medicinal herbs known were used, but nothing helped. Under the influence of sacred plant medicines the Pajé 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. She then taught the Pajé how to apply it to the body in a safe way.
Returning to the tribe the Pajé was able to cure his brothers and sisters. From then on he was known as Pajé Kampu. After his death, the tribe believed that his spirit lived on in the frog where it continued its mission to protect the health of those who defend the forest. The secretion became known as Kambo after Pajé Kampu but is also known as Sapo, Kampu or Vacina da Floresta.
FEELING THE CALL?
“They say the frog starts calling you. It certainly did with me. Frogs have been appearing for me everywhere I go. And I listen to signs. The medicine began working on me the minute I committed to receiving it... Kambo is like a re-set button. It ends a chapter of your life and begins a new one.
— Teal Swan, 'The Kiss of the Frog'
The first step of your Kambo journey is feeling the call. A lot of people say they felt a deep yearning to work with Kambo or had an inner knowing it was right for them for some time. Others carry out research and read testimonials and feel they resonate with it deeply, some say they started seeing a lot of frogs and felt it was a 'sign' and there are some who have physical conditions that have led them to Kambo and its benefits.
Whichever way the froggy makes his way into your life, I believe this is a calling.
The calling is the first step of the journey, however, there are many other aspects to consider when embarking on this path and it is encouraged that a decision comes from a place of full understanding and awareness of what the process entails.
If you are considering Kambo I highly recommend you read this page. Below is everything I feel will be helpful before making your decision. This includes, knowing how Kambo is used, who is unable to receive Kambo, choosing a trained practitioner, how I hold my circles, intention setting, and the importance of allowing the timing of your treatment to fully align with you and your needs.
HOW IS KAMBO USED?
Kambo enters into the Lymphatic System, at this time most people will experience a warm, hot flush on the upper body.
Then there is purge, releasing all toxins that have made their way into your stomach. The purging process works on a physical, spiritual and emotional level.
You may feel tired afterwards and need to rest. Within a short time you can drink and eat normally. After a good night’s sleep you will start to feel the real benefits.
Kambo is not psychoactive, therefore does not produce hallucinations. Many people say they receive insights and messages about living a healthier life during the ceremony and in the days and weeks after.
WHO IS UNABLE TO RECEIVE KAMBO
A discussion with a trained practitioner is recommend as they will be able to advise you on how to work with this medicine safely.
The following is a guideline for those who should NOT receive the Kambo:
- Have serious heart problems.
- Are on medication for low blood pressure.
- Have had a stroke.
- Have had a brain haemorrhage.
- Have had aneurisms or blood clots.
- Lack the mental capacity to make the decision to take Kambo.
- Have serious mental health problems excluding depression, PTSD and anxiety.
- Are undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy including 4 weeks after.
- Take immune-suppressants for organ transplant.
- Have Addison’s Disease.
- Have current and severe Epilepsy.
- Are recovering from a major surgical procedure.
- Are pregnant or maybe so or are breast-feeding a child under 6 months old.
CHOOSING YOUR KAMBO PRACTITIONER
Kambo should always be taken with an experienced and properly trained person administering and supervising the treatments at all times. Someone who follows guidelines and is knowledgable, responsible and practices safe and effective protocols. I recommend talking to the practitioner so you can feel for the connection and intention they hold.
When choosing a practitioner it is wise to know the source of their Kambo secretion. As the secretion comes directly from the frog it must be taken by a skilled person. If it is not known where it has come from there is no way of understanding how the frog is treated during the harvesting process and whether the tribes are honoured for their work.
Being one of the first to train with Karen I had the unique opportunity to work alongside her many times deepening my understanding of how to serve before I embarked on my own practice and started holding circles myself.
Since then I have held circles all over the world and consider myself to be an intuitive and experinced practitioner in both one on one and group ceremonies.
MORE ON MY CIRCLES
My circles are held in a traditional shamanic way, in sacred space. I use prayers and devotional song to evoke the Kambo spirit. Although Kambo is a warrior (of love) initiation and draws on your own strength and vulnerability, I am there to guide making sure you always feel held in a safe and supported environment.
A beautiful part of working with Kambo is setting a personal intention for the ceremony. This is an integral part of the process and can help with surrendering to what takes place. An intention, in this way, is defined as something that you would wish to work on, heal or create awareness around.
An intention can relate to anything physical, emotional or energetic.
Usually, because of Kambo's strong purging effect the intention would be focussed around letting go of something that no longer serves you on your path but it can also help to call in abundance and healing.
EVERYTHING IN ITS RIGHT PLACE
Is it the right time for you to receive Kambo?
This part of the process is about you and you alone. It is important to receive Kambo for yourself and not someone else. Honour your own intuition, check for yourself who is holding the circle and whether it resonates with you on a deep level.
I do believe the frog magically appears when it is time but I also believe that it is your call to tune into whether that means now.
Kambo is sacred and you are such a sacred being. A beautifully deep connection can be formed between you and the spirit, one that can stay with you and guide you wherever you may go. It is important to honour the power that this holds and honour yourself and your healing process.
Everything in its right place.