Kambo Rituals: The Real Deal or a Real Don’t?
The frog poison medicine that is said to cure you, or does it?
Kambo healing rituals are becoming increasingly more popular in the western world. They are meant to be detoxifying experience that leads to positive healing results on the mind, body, and spirit. It originated in the Amazon. South American indigenous tribes have used the practice for its various different healing properties, over many years. Particularly, it is said to release ‘panema’: negative energies and thoughts that can surround a person and cause bad luck, laziness, and a lack of abundance. (Planet Kambo) It is also said to increase vitality, physical, and mental performance. Before a major hunt, indigenous tribes perform the ritual to be more alert and mentally sharp. It also has very calming effects on the mind and body because it acts as an opiod on the brain. It is meant to be 40 x stronger than that of morphine. (The Guardian). It is no wonder that after the ritual one feels extremely relaxed and ‘unphased’.
How does it work?
Kambo is essentially tree frog poison acquired by ‘stressing’ out the tree frog, a species of frog only found in the Amazon. By pulling the frogs’ limbs in an X shape, the frogs secretes the poison to be collected. The frogs are apparently in no pain; and, are set free after the poison has been obtained. (For those who are animal rights activists and vegans, the poison is ethically sourced, given that hurting the frog is seen to disturb the animal spirits (Karen Darke interview Reset). The beginning of a ceremony is a time to share intentions with the collective. Questions ask are: what one would like to get out of the practice, why one was attracted to this particular healing? A shaman or kambo healing practitioner will chant or say prayers around those intentions. Then, the blow of tobacco, or Rapé commences. Rapé is transferred through a pipe directed into each person’s nostrils. This isn’t your average tobacco that one can get from the shop down the street. It is a spiritual and mental ‘awakener’. It can open one’s mind and produce physical tingling sensations (Psychedelic Times). It can feel like an intense wave of peace has gone over the mind and body. One can feel quite connected to the spirit, and the angelic world. The Kambo is then prepared to be administered to the body. The healing practitioner / shaman burns ‘points’ in the skin, small circles where one is left with an open wound. The frog poison is placed on these points and then one waits to go through ‘the purge’.
As daunting as a purge may sound; it isn’t as bad as one would think. The Kambo ceremony is meant to detoxify the body: the blood stream, lymphatic system, cleaning out the liver, kidneys, etc. Therefore, for the first, at the very least, thirty minutes after having the frog poison administered, one swells like a frog, sweats, vomits, and can have diarrhoea. (Though, the latter does not always occur). The shaman / healer usually indicates that ‘the purge’ is complete after one is throwing up bile. This indicates the liver has been cleaned out, and the initial detoxifying process is done. (It is said to have detoxifying effects for up to a week after.)
Ending the ceremony
One can get another helping of Rapé and / or Sananga, the latter being eye drops that is said to open one’s third eye. (In my ceremony, I did not take Sananga as it is said to have a similar feeling of putting jalapeno peppers straight into your eyes. Considering my visits to the eye doctor make me squeamish and overwhelmingly uncomfortable, I thought better of it.) One lies down and relaxes into the calming effects of the kambo, tobacco, and / or sananga; and one’s face starts to de-swell. The practice is closed out with another prayer. The healer / shaman will suggest a slow and relaxing rest of the day given your body has been completely cleansed. It isn’t advisable nor desirable to do anything rigorous after the ceremony.
The Effects: What they say
The effects are noticeable for a few days to a week after one’s ceremony. One’s body is meant to be harder, better, faster, stronger (Daft Punk). This means that going to the gym should be a breeze;, and one has more stamina to work out for longer. The mind is suppose to be clear and free of panema. Focus and concentration is sharper and one can recall things more easily. One is at peace and relaxed. Spiritually, one can feel connected, awakened, and aware. With continued practice. The suggestion is three times in the first month of taking kambo, then regular use after. After regular practice, one doesn’t experience sicknesses, such as flu and common cold. One can deal with stress; and, it can cure mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
The Effects: What I say
Kambo did exactly as it said on the tin. I felt the positive effects on my mind, body, and spirit for about a week. The subsequent day after the ceremony I was in beast mode at the gym. I am a regular gym goer; but, I definitely saw a difference in the weights I was lifting and my stamina. I was more mentally alert at work and could focus more. I felt less stressed than usual; which became very apparent on my train rides into work. My mind was calm and I was generally un-phased by my typical annoyances with the people and the crowding of the Tube. I did not continue the practice as they suggested. Therefore, I don’t know if the effects are long lasting. I did, however, notice a steady decline in the positive effects everyday thereafter.
Given there is very little medical research on its true healing properties, no one truly knows if it has long lasting effects, except those that have personal experience. Some people, and certainly the practitioners I went to, swear by it. Seeing as it is getting more popular in the western world, one may say that the effects are real and worthy of exploring over time. I will say that due to Kambo and the calmness that I experienced from it; I decided to stop getting stressed or upset on my Tube journeys. I have also seen my ability to cope with stress in smaller situations massively improve. This could also be a placebo effect; given that I decided to change my beliefs around my pernickety annoyances right after taking Kambo. Was it Kambo that improved how I view my small stressors? One will never know for certain. I can and will recommend trying it at least once, just as long as it is being administered by experienced healers. One should take advantage of its positive effects on the mind, body, and spirit, even if only for a short period of time.
[DISCLAIMER: I am in no way advising taking Kambo as a medical practitioner. If you would like to try the ritual, you should do your research first, and take into account personal health conditions. ]