What is Kambo?Kambo is a traditional Amazonian indian ceremony that has been adapted to modern medicine. It uses the naturally occurring secretion of the Giant Green Monkey Frog, and has the rare distinction of being promoted as both a scientific medicine as well as an alternative therapy medicine for the body and soul. The active substances within Kambo medicine are bio-active peptides, known for their anti-inflammatory abilities, boost to the immune system, as well as their positive psycho-active properties.
The term can simultaneously refer to several related elements:
- The Giant Green Monkey Tree frog
- The toxic secretions the frog
- The medicinal properties derived of those secretions
- The traditional ceremony where this Kambo is applied to openings in the skin
The Origin of Kambo: The Giant Green Monkey Frog
The Giant Green Monkey Tree frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) is also commonly known as the blue & yellow frog, giant leaf frog and the waxy monkey tree frog.
As its name suggests, it’s somewhat large and mostly green, measuring between 4” to 5” long, with an off-white to cream underside and patches of white spots with dark borders. It’s natural habitat covers the upper Amazon rainforest.
It spends most of its life high up in the trees and moves about at night. While the frog has no natural predators and is not endangered (It’s designated as “Least Concern” by the IUCN endangered species database), their habitat is under siege by human encroachment.
What makes the Giant Green Monkey frog unique are the bio-active peptides (deltorphin, deltorphin I, deltorphin II and dermorphin, among others) that it secretes through it’s skin.
Native Indian Kambo History
The secretions of the frog have been carefully harvested and used as medicine for thousands of years by shamans in the Amazonian jungles. Its powers are harnessed for treating numerous ailments, including “panema” — a descriptor that covers a range of negative energy and emotions such as sadness, bad luck, irritation and dark or negative energies. But is also detoxifies and sharpens the senses of the users, and even boosts their immune systems.
Also known as the Kambo cleanse or ritual, the Kambo ceremony is where the secretions of the frog are applied through small breaks in the skin called gates. These breaks are often laid out in a simple line or circular design on the shoulder, back, ankle or leg.
As the naturally Kambo frog secretions are dried after harvesting, water is mixed with the medicine and formed into small globules. They’re then placed on the skin breaks where the medicine enters the lymphatic system relatively quickly.
While the initial reactions are discomforting in different ways to different people, the after effects include a feeling of increased strength, heightened senses and a stronger immune system.
Panema can be described as bad luck, a lack of energy, negativity, a lack of self control and a host of other psychological and physical maladies.
Kambo’s Modern Medical History
Vittorio Erspamer, an Italian pharmacologist and chemist best known for identifying serotonin, was the first scientist to analyze Kambo in a lab. He found that the frog’s secretions contain a ‘fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unequalled by any other amphibian’. He primarily studied the effects of opioid peptides in the frog’s secretions, and how the native indian populations applied and used these to create euphoric and analgesic affects.
Some of these peptides have been found to heightened sensory perception, increase stamina & physical strength, and generally boost the capacity to manage pain and stressful situations. Other medicinal properties of this secretion are its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral effects and ability to heal infections. Due to the presence of bio-active peptides, Kambo is one of the strongest natural antibiotics and anesthetics found in the nature.
The frogs do not develop the protective secretions in captivity, therefore the medicine can only be cultivated from frogs within their natural habitat. The actual Kambo secretions are harvested in a non-damaging manner. After luring and capturing the frogs, local shamans from upper Amazonian tribes will scrape the secretions from the sides of the frogs using a bamboo stick. The stick is then wrapped in leaves and left to dry for later use. The frogs are released unharmed and set free to go back into the forest.
Our own stock of Kambo medicine is from the International Association of Kambo Practitioners