As with every article I write, I share my experience for informative purposes and I do not incite anyone to do anything other than read and take what resonates and leave what doesn’t. I do encourage you to read this with an open mind and to do further research if you feel so inclined and am always happy to answer questions if you have any.
First things first…
What is Kambo?
Kambo is an Amazonian healing ritual which involves making small burns on the skin of the person receiving the medicine, to apply a secretion extracted from a frog – endemic to the Amazon, and known as ‘Phyllomedusa bicolor, blue-and-yellow frog, bicolour tree-frog, giant monkey frog, giant leaf frog, or waxy-monkey treefrog’.
Once the medicine makes contact with the broken skin of the ‘receiver’ (I intentionally avoid the word patient since this is mostly preventive medicine although it can also be used as treatment for someone with a pre-existing disease) the receiver can experience a variety of physical experiences such as hot flushes / sweating / swelling in the face / nausea and almost always vomiting.
The secretion applied to the skin is frog poison and the vomiting is thus the result of the intoxication caused by this poison.
Some say the vomiting is essential for the medicine to work. My first and second time I vomited A Lot and the third time hardly at all but I am not sure of why this is. I assumed it may be related to toxicity in the physical and subtle body but a sister who administers the medicine told me this is not the case so the mystery remains.
I had been offered Kambo a few times before and I had 0 interest in sitting with it. I’d heard of the projectile vomiting most people experienced and thought I’d never want to do it, EVER – I don’t like vomiting (who does right?) and I consider my diet to be healthy so I didn’t see the purpose.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself speaking to the shaman’s wife about the benefits of the medicine. She put it so graphically and simply that I asked the shaman if we could do it the next morning. She said “It’s a deep clean – like going into your body with a karcher and although it is very unpleasant it is brief and you immediately feel lighter” And she added that it worked on an energetic level as well – so I knew I wanted to do it.
I didn’t follow a ‘dieta’ prior to it because I only decided to do it the day before but ideally you have a super clean diet for 3 days before: no meat or dairy and avoiding caffeine and cacao is recommended. No dinner the night before and lots of water right before the ceremony – LOTS of WATER.
There seems to be some confusion around how much water should be drunk prior to the ceremony but the same sister aforementioned kindly informed me that ‘One n e v e r drinks more than 2 L before a session. If the person vomits its ok to have 0,5-1 L more during session . That is it. ‘ I mention this because I was encouraged to drink close to 5L and although it didn’t feel good I trusted the shaman and have only just found out that this can be lethal in some cases.
Feeling already nauseous I took a seat and felt the heat of the stick as it burned through my skin but this felt almost pleasant compared to the physical experience of the poison in my body once it had been applied.
The experience was very intense but brief. I vomited more than I’d ever vomited before and got to the bile and ‘beyond’. During the purging I clearly recall thinking “I am NEVER doing this again”. Soon enough I was done and was lying on the ground feeling a little confused of what had left my body – feeling lighter and clearer. I had a nap and as soon as I woke up I decided I needed to do the 2 other sessions recommended to complete the 3 sessions in a lunar cycle – which I have been informed is a ‘white man’s tale’ but I am glad I had the 3 sessions nonetheless.
I have now completed the 3 sessions and am glad I chose to do so. I feel lighter and clearer than before the ceremonies and look forward to discovering how the medicine continues to work in the weeks and months to come.
I am still not entirely sure of what I left behind during those 3 ceremonies but I know the medicine worked on my physical as well as my emotional and spiritual being.
Would I recommend it?
Like I said at the beginning, I try to move away from making recommendations and rather share my own experience and let that inspire or deter others in their own decision making process.
What I would say is:
- Your intention is Very Important like with all medicine and all of life in general – take the time to connect with Why you want to receive the medicine
- Who administers the medicine is an important factor – ask for a recommendation from someone you trust or wait for the medicine to present itself to you and trust your intuition
- Surrender – once you have decided to receive the medicine let go of effort to ‘keep it together’ and surrender to make it easier for yourself
Is it ethical?
This is a question that I like to ask myself for everything I consume and unfortunately many times the answer is not a clear Yes.
For Kambo specifically there are questions around whether the medicine should be administered by people who are not from the Amazon – should the medicine even leave the amazon and lastly some practitioners agitate the frog in order to extract the poison however my sister also informed me that ‘During harvesting, the frog does n o t need to be agitated. however some tribes do that. That is why ethical harvesting and conscious choice from the practitioner who they receive medicine from. The energy of the frog will follow the medicine, it is important that it is an ethical harvest.’
I don’t have a solution to any of these questions, but I think that humankind is in clear need of healing and therefore I trust that if Mother Earth has medicine accessible and ancient civilzations have practiced these rituals for hundreds of years, then we can humbly learn from them and be grateful for the opportunity to heal with the help of this generous frog.
With gratitude for the shaman who guided me – the frog(s) who shared their healing and every person in between who made it possible for me to receive the medicine here in Mexico – I bow and continue my journey with a clearer mind and an open heart.
Thank you for reading,