Updated: Jan 30
A phrase that commonly pops-up in conversation when we talk about Kambo, or when you’re researching Kambo on the internet, is the ‘Kambo cleanse’. It’s a bit of a fuzzy term, so I thought I would clarify a bit for you:
Kambo cleansing, or a kambo cleanse, refers to the purging of vomit, bile, and other physical matter from your body, as well as the release of your spiritual and emotional ‘baggage’, as a result of the application of the poison of the giant monkey frog during a traditional South American ritual called Kambo. It is also often used as an alternative name for the Kambo ritual or ceremony itself.
So what does it mean to ‘cleanse’ using Kambo, what exactly needs to be cleansed, and how does Kambo help in this process?
What causes the cleansing process?
Kambo is administered as part of a Kambo ceremony by an experienced practitioner.
Firstly the practitioner will create a few ‘gateways’ in your skin by the light application of burning incense or stick from a vine. This brief touch burns away the very top layer of your skin, and opens a space in which Kambo can enter you bloodstream.
The practitioner will then apply a series of small dots, or points, of Kambo to these newly opened gateways, which allows the Kambo to enter your body and start to work its magic.
The biochemical compounds and peptides found within Kambo have a number of different effects upon the body and brain that influence the cleanse.
One peptide in particular, Phylloceruelean, causes your stomach to produce more acid and bile. The bile in particular carries a lot of the toxins that you want to expel and in combination with the increased acid can make you feel nauseous, which is the start of the cleanse or purge.
Another peptide, Phyllomedusin, works in concert with an additional peptide found in Kambo, Phyllokinin, to induce contraction and relaxation of the muscles around the gut, which also creates nausea and helps to cause the physical act of purging as part of the cleanse.
How do you experience the cleanse?
The cleanse can refer to the physical removal of toxins, bile, and vomit from the body, but also refers to the cleansing of your spirit and your emotions - the processing of bad moods and thought patterns, or even acting against addictions and bad habits. This video explains in detail the 3 main stages of the Kambo process.
These elements of the cleanse are experienced in very different ways:
The Physical Cleanse
During the Kambo ceremony itself you will experience the majority of the physical symptoms of the cleanse.
After applying the Kambo, the first sensations you will experience are ‘the rush’ - a heightened sensation of blood-flow and flushing of the skin. Also, potentially some mild burning or stinging around the sites to which Kambo has been applied.
The major physical experience of the cleanse is the purge. You will start to feel very nauseous and start to vomit up the water that you initially consumed before the ceremony started.
The purge will crescendo in a period in which you are likely to bring up bile from your stomach. This bile contains the majority of the toxins and waste compounds that form the physical elements you wish to be cleansed of.
Quite quickly after you have reached the bile stage of purging you will start to feel empty and much less nauseous, meaning that you have hit ‘the hump’ and the physical portion of the cleanse is complete.
The Spiritual and Emotional Cleanse
Once over the hump of the Kambo purge, you will begin to experience the ‘calm after the storm’. A sense of calmness, relief, and emotional and spiritual peace can wash over you and provide you with a profound sense of clear, euphoric stillness. Also a feeling of a shared bond and companionship with those who experienced the ordeal alongside you.
This calm can stay with you for quite some time, and together with some of the other spiritual and emotional benefits is often referred to as the ‘Kambo afterglow’.
Unprocessed, suppressed and stuck emotions can make the cleanse a more difficult process. These emotions are things that must be gone through, not bypassed, and the Kambo can allow you to experience and purge these emotions as part of the physical act of purging.
Some of the emotional benefits of Kambo include a reduction in anxiety and improvement in mood - removing some of the circular thinking and negative thoughts that you might have been clinging to. Clarity of thought and mind can be experienced, which may have previously been clouded by mood or unwanted rumination. Often participants will report a reduction in negative or harmful emotions such as anger or frustration, and an increase in more positive emotions like compassion and courage.
Spiritually, Kambo can help to clear out impurities and unhealthy addictions of thought and action. This clarity allows you to better look within and re-balance the mind, body and spirit. Helping you to find ways to stay grounded and new perspectives on enlightenment.
What is Panema?
Panema is the Arawak word used by the indigenous tribes of the Amazon that describes a cloud of negative energy; an evil aura or miasma that surrounds a person. This bad energy grows over time in contact with other people’s Panema and bad spirits. The Penama causes a dulling of the sensation of positive emotions and events, like joy, happiness and prosperity. It also causes bad emotions like lethargy, depression, trauma, pain and anger, as well as causing bad luck to befall the afflicted.
The most important cleansing action of Kambo to these tribes-people is the purging and release of this dark Panema. It is released alongside the physical expulsions of the body and causes the participant to instead be surrounded by strong positive spirits and light - allowing them to experience the full joy and happiness of positive emotions, and bring good luck and success to both the person and their tribe.
How long does the cleanse last?
The Kambo ritual will usually last for around 2-3 hours. Giving time for preparation, application, purging, and recovery. This video explains in detail how to time the Kambo process including recovery.
The purging portion itself usually lasts for around 15-20 minutes. With the rest and recuperation period afterwards usually being around an hour.
After the purge, the ‘calm after the storm’ will wash over you within about 10 minutes and that feeling of calm and serenity can last for many hours after the ceremony.
Some of the related benefits, known as the ‘Kambo afterglow’ can last for 48-72 hours after the ceremony, including heightened senses, mental clarity, and increased physical prowess.
Fundamental spiritual and emotional changes can last longer still, if not indefinitely. This entirely depends upon the nature of the problem being tackled, its strength, depth, and power. It will also vary from person to person.
In the belief system of the indigenous tribes that discovered and use Kambo to this day, the cleansing of the Panema is a cyclical process - this negative energy is something that attaches itself to you over time - and so a cleansing Kambo ritual is necessary every so often, particularly before important events or decisions, in order to keep negative consequences at bay.
The Kambo experience is fundamentally one of cleansing - both from the physical act of purging, and the removal of toxins from the body, to the spiritual and emotional release of trauma and unhelpful emotions.
However, this cleansing is not a simple process. The cleansing medicine of Kambo is a medicine born of ordeal. Where the cleansing is found through the pain, not by passing or swerving around it. But, the cleanse is deeper and the results more complete for having the courage to face it head on.