I never predicted that I would one day find myself sitting in a Kambo ceremony. The idea of having poisonous frog secretion (Kambo) applied to a burn on my leg was one I could never have imagined.
But that’s how life works.
Life shifts and causes you to rethink the way you view the world. Rumi once recognized that unlearning is the highest form of learning. I agree with that statement so much. The more I let go of what no longer served and allowed myself to have an open mind and be curious, the more doors and avenues of learning have opened up for me. And this has been everything.
So with a completely open mind and a vast year of unlearning, I found myself deep-diving online as to what Kambo was and why it seemed like the right thing for me to do. I
What exactly is Kambo?
Let’s start at the beginning with the origins of Kambo:
Several tribes have used Kambo for thousands of years, and many stories and legends exist as to how each tribe came to use this medicine. Despite the different variations of origin stories, one fact remains the same many south American countries’ indigenous tribes depend on the magical healing properties of the skin secretions of a tree frog.
Kambo is a non-psychoactive traditional Amazonian medicine derived from the Giant Monkey Frog, Phyllomedusa Bicolor. The indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest have used this magical frog medicine as an alternative medicine for thousands of years, as I mentioned previously.
Kambo comes from the frog’s skin secretion, a waxy substance that is carefully collected without harm to the frog. The Kambo frog poison is applied through a number of small burns made onto the skin with a small Kambo stick typically made of palo santo.
This sacred medicine goes to work immediately and is known to work extremely well in helping heal the physical and emotional body. Kambo is full of bioactive peptides that move throughout the body, healing whatever it needs to do as it moves throughout your body.
Kambo Medicine use has been known to treat the following Health Conditions:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cancer and treatment of cancer cells
- Chronic pain
- Blood Circulation problems
- Chronic fatigue
- Autoimmune diseases
- Improve Immune system and function
Although there is little scientific evidence and information to back up the claims, they’re many successes and healing stories. I believe that since Kambo medicine is more of a spiritual and energetic medicine, it’s hard for traditional medicine to get a grasp on its power.
Kambo is safe for most humans, but there are a few Kambo Medicine Contradictions that exclude people with certain medical conditions and health concerns to be aware of prior to taking part in Kambo ceremonies.
- Heart conditions other than high blood pressure
- History of stroke(s)
- If medicated for low blood pressure and/or knowingly experience low blood pressure and choose not to take medication prescribed by a doctor
- History of a brain hemorrhage(s)
- Experienced an aneurism
- Current blood clots
- History of serious mental health conditions such as Schizophrenia, Dissociative Identity Disorder
- Currently undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation (Requires a minimum of 10 weeks post-op)
- Organ Transplant
- Taking immune suppressant medications
- Pregnancy (post-delivery minimum of 8 weeks, currently breastfeeding a baby under 3 months of age)
- Extended fasting (if you’ve fasted 7 days prior to your kambo cleanse or any water-based detox 3 days prior to your kambo cleanse) *example of water-based detox includes a consistent practice using colonics, enemas, and/or liver flushes.
The pull of purging both emotional and physical wounds caused me to consider trying Kambo. For much of my life, I have played small and never seemed to muster the courage to step forward and be “seen.”
I wanted to change that somehow. I feel called to help others and share my light with the world. But my fear and insecurities continually have held me back. I also wanted to experience a full-body reboot and help improve my overall body health.
That is why I felt called to try Kambo for myself.
What to Expect in a Kambo Ceremony?
Kambo can be done on a one-time basis or, as my practitioner Julie Larson recommends, a three-session cleanse.
During my first time, I was equally parts anxious and excited. I had researched and talked with Julie before, but I was unsure how my body would react. Purging is a big part of how the medicine works, which was in the back of my mind as a concern.
Julie has a beautiful, nurturing energy, and I immediately felt at ease as I nestled onto the yoga chair and mat she had set up. Having a practitioner that creates a safe setting is a very important part of your Kambo experience, so please choose someone you feel safe with.
We chatted about my intentions and what I wanted Kambo to do for me. These energetic medicines are much more powerful when you are clear with your intentions. I wanted to let go and heal my relationships with any limiting beliefs I still clung to.
As we sat down, Julie pulled an oracle card to guide my experience. This is a deeply personal part of the Kambo ritual. I about cried when she read the meaning of the card pulled. It was what my soul needed to hear.
Before applying the Kambo, a burn needs to be created via open wounds so that the medicine can go directly into the lymphatic system. The Kambo frog secretion is then applied through a number of small burns made onto the skin with a small Kambo stick typically made of palo santo. The immediate adverse effects could be nausea, vomiting, elevated heart rate, diarrhea, sweating, shortness of breath, lite-headedness, and other symptoms. After using Kambo, participants report amazing mental clarity and many health improvements for various conditions, both physical and spiritual.
My session with Julie started as described above, with small holes being made on my skin via superficial burns. In my first Kambo medicine session, Julie made four burns or dots on my skin.
Yes, the burns hurt. But it was quick, and the physical pain passed quickly. Then the secretion is applied to the burns.
The best way I can explain what happened next is to remember the scene in Spiderman (the older one with Toby McGuire) where he gets bit by the spider. He can “see” the poison traveling throughout his body and changing it. That’s kind of what it felt like. I could feel the medicine moving throughout my body and renewing and regenerating as it went along. It was one of the most surreal sensations I have ever felt. My body went from being super hot, then super cold. And then I vomited a lot. Thankfully Julie is well prepared and has a bucket and tissues ready to go. The whole process took about 2 hours, and although I felt pretty ill during the session, I felt fine to drive home.
After driving myself home, I slept the rest of the afternoon and was super tired.
The next day I felt super healthy and full of energy, like a weight had been lifted, and my body’s “factory settings” had been restored. I went back for two more sessions, and the process was similar each time. I could not stop shaking the second time, and my body was infused with energy. The third and final time, I again vomited a lot. Each time my body did what it needed to do to heal. Do not let the fear of “purging” hold you back; it feels really good to do so. And I promise there is NO judgment! If anything, this will be one of the few times in your life you’ll get praised for vomiting.
Each Kambo treatment session seemed to renew my soul and my physical body. I became more alert, more focused, and more secure in my direction in life.
I am a healthy person, so physically, not much has changed. I continue to be healthy with even more energy.
Some of the amazing benefits of Kambo medicine you may experience: (but definitely not limited to)
- Improved mood and reduced anxiety – from the interactions that lead to reductions in the main stress hormone, cortisol, within the bloodstream.
- Pain relief – certain elements have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the inflammation associated with some types of pain, as well as other compounds that have some opioid-like effects and that can also cross the blood-brain barrier, causing pain-blocking effects within the brain itself.
- Anti-cancer properties – an indirect result of the action of some compounds leads to reduced blood vessel growth, which is a property used in a number of treatments that can help to restrict tumor growth in cancers with targeted delivery.
- Treatment of addiction – helping to reset certain chemical pathways in the brain that are fouled by addiction. Some of the peptides are opioid-receptor binding, meaning that they bind to the receptors in the brain that opiates normally bind to. This could help those with opiate addiction by helping to normalize brain hormonal responses without the need for opiate ingestion.
- Lowered blood pressure – many of the peptides have vaso-dilatory effects, meaning that they widen blood vessels. This allows more room for blood to flow and so contributes to lower blood pressure. Indeed, these are what cause some of the light-headedness and dizziness that can be felt when taking Kambo.
- Heart protective properties – in addition, this widening of blood vessels can increase blood flow to the heart. Along with some of the other effects on smooth muscle, this has the potential to aid heart health.
- Anti-microbial properties – many of the compounds have effects to fight against fungal and bacterial infections. Actually, this is one of the reasons why the frog from which Kambo is harvested secretes this substance in the first place – to help protect its skin from fungal and bacterial infection, which are a particular menace to amphibians.
Where I felt the difference was internally and emotionally. Although Kambo is not hallucinogenic or psychoactive like other Spiritual Amazonian medicines such as Ayahuasca, it has a strong spiritual component. I felt cleared and cleansed of past traumas my body had held onto. Dark memories that had a weight to them seemed to dissolve and not have the same hold on me.
For me, Kambo was what I needed. It helped me push past a lot of what I had carried for so long. It renewed my body and my soul. One of the crazy “side effects” is that my relationship with food is different. I no longer feel controlled by it. Foods that I used to have little control over no longer have the same pull on me.
It’s been a couple of months since my last “session,” and I still feel wonder how my body and life have changed due to the gift from an Amazonian frog. I will forever be grateful for its gift (secretions).
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I plan on going back for sessions as needed. Which I am sure my body will let me know.
That’s the crazy thing about the word, never. It is nebulous and can change as we shift and evolve ourselves. So if you find yourself saying, never stop and ask yourself why, be open, be curious. You might stumble upon precisely what you need.
If you are local to Utah – I cannot recommend Julie Larson enough! She is amazing.
If you are outside of Utah, you can find a member of the International Association of Kambo Practitioners in your area on this website.
I recently interviewed Dan + Julie Larson on my podcast Certified Weird, where we talked a lot about my Kambo journey and their journey to become practitioners of this amazing medicine.
After my original posting of this article in January of 2021, I received several questions, so I have added a formal FAQ to answer all your questions.
The short answer is no, but the Kambo Application process is intense and needs to be applied by a properly trained practitioner who is aware of and can look for side effects beyond the normal range of side effects. This is a potent and poisonous substance, so the use of Kambo should not be taken lightly.
Depending on your health and size, four to six small dots are typically made with small sticks.
You can complete one session or a series of three for a full detox. Julie, my practitioner, recommends completing three sessions within 28 days for maximum results.
You will need to fast before your treatment session. It is recommended that you drink electrolyte drinks on the morning of your healing ritual. You will want to wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes, a blanket, a pillow, and plenty of water. 2 liters of water are recommended to drink during the ceremony.
Although it can be found online for purchase, it is a good idea not to apply your own Kambo without proper training.
It is recommended not to do more than once a month after your initial Kambo treatments. But always work with your practitioner to discuss what is right for you.