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The Benefits of Kambo

Updated: Jan 3, 2021

People come to Kambo for a variety of reasons. Whether physical, mental, or spiritual they come seeking what Kambo can provide. So, what are the benefits of Kambo?

There are a variety of benefits attributed to Kambo that fall into 3 areas: physical and medical benefits, mental benefits, and spiritual benefits. It is used by the indigenous tribes in which it was discovered to increase physical and mental prowess prior to a hunt, and to purge ‘Panema’ or negative energy that may collect within a person and manifest as lethargy, depression, and otherwise low mood. More recent scientific studies have shed light on the biochemical effects of the compounds and peptides found in Kambo, and their promising potential applications in modern medicine.

Let’s outline the benefits of this frog medicine in detail, and look into how they might come about. In this short documentary video we see the science of amphibian neuropeptides and it's potential for human medicinal research.

Benefits associated with the compounds and peptides found in Kambo

Scientific studies of Kambo have isolated a number of biochemical components, primarily peptides, that have been found to have a variety of effects within the human body that have potential for use in medical and pharmacological interventions.

Some of the potential effects of these compounds include:

  • Improved mood and reduced anxiety - possibly 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 type of pain, as well as other compounds that have some opioid-like effects, and that can also cross 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 tumour 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 normalise 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.

Traditional beneficial uses of Kambo

The tribes who first discovered Kambo use it for a variety of beneficial purposes, not all of which have been confirmed by Western science, but its persistence in tribal culture points to their strong belief in its use and results.

Many of these uses are related to their success in hunting - very important to those people descended from traditional hunter-gatherers, and who use low-intensity farming techniques.

Traditional uses of Kambo include:

  • Removal of negative energies - known as ‘Panema’ which is an Arawak word used to describe a cloud of negative energy that grows over time. Like an aura around a person. They believe this to cause depression, lethargy, laziness and otherwise bad things to happen to an individual. The purging associated with Kambo is mainly the purging of this bad energy to be renewed and refreshed.

  • Bring luck - to generally increase the participants luck, in both the hunt, and in life.

  • Heighten senses prior to a hunt - to achieve greater sharpness of vision, improved hearing, and greater mental acuity. All important attributes for a successful hunt.

  • Increase endurance and strength prior to a hunt - to be better able to perform when the moment comes and to increase the chances of returning home with food for the tribe.

  • Reduce need for food and water - allowing the hunt to go longer, or travel lighter in pursuit of the hunt. Keeping the hunters mind on the task in hand rather than their hunger or thirst.

  • Minimise human scent - a successful hunt is often reliant upon your prey not knowing you are coming. In the jungle, scent often carries further than either sound or vision, and so can be an important warning to prey that don’t wish to be caught.

  • Purify the mind and spirit - hitting the spiritual reset button. Removing all that is impure and starting anew with a fresh mental slate.

  • Treat illness and physical ailments - access to medicine in remote rainforest areas is often difficult. Kambo is amongst a number of traditional cures for a variety of maladies.

  • Treatment of malaria and snake bites - common problems in the jungle, and ones that benefit from the purging of toxins that Kambo provides.

  • Encourage fertility - if fertility can be impacted by bad energy then a purge and a purification can only help those who wish to conceive a child.

User reported benefits

Those of us in the Western world that seek out Kambo do so for a variety of reasons, although not often related to hunting. Our search is usually more for the spiritual and mental aspects that Kambo provides. It’s great to hear stories from participants at our ceremonies about what Kambo has provided to them, and there’s been a great range of results we’ve heard about:

  • Increased strength and physical endurance - those of us that enjoy the call of the gym, as well as the call of Kambo can often attest that some of our best sessions come in the days after a Kambo ceremony. The weights feel a little lighter and the grind a little easier.

  • Heightened senses - vision, hearing, smell, touch. Often people report and extra sharpness to the senses, ‘like the world has been turned up to 11’

  • Mental clarity - sometimes it feels like thinking can come easier. There’s less chatter and thoughts whirling around in your brain. You are generally less in your head.

  • Reduced stress - whether it’s the reduction in cortisol, or the shared bond formed from practising Kambo amongst others, stress and problems can seem diminished and much further away than in the past.

  • Sense of calm - the calm that descends after the purge in Kambo can last a number of days after the event. Everything seems just that little bit quieter.

  • Increased compassion and courage - you may find yourself reacting a little differently to things that come up in your life. Where there was previously annoyance, maybe some extra empathy. Where you shied away, maybe you step up that little bit more.

  • Reduced frustration, anger and anxiety - emotions that don’t serve you can be lessened. Whether as a result of your increased sense of calm, or from some realisation that you found through Kambo.

Kambo can be beneficial in a variety of ways - and increasingly so as more discoveries are made about its biochemical and medicinal properties.

The only way to truly discover how Kambo can be beneficial to you is to try it - in a safe setting, with supportive fellow participants, and an experienced, well regarded practitioner.

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Have you ever suffered from depression? If so, have you ever come across Kambo, a secretion from the skin of the giant tree frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) being used for treating mental health issues including depression. We are investigating public knowledge and awareness of Kambo in treating depression. We would invite you to complete this short anonymous survey. Please feel free to share the link. Thank you!

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