Updated: Jan 3
The words power and purge probably make for a rather unusual juxtaposition. It is fitting however, for a less than typical medicine.
Kambo is a natural secretion of the poisonous Monkey Leaf Frog native to the Amazon. Known locally as the ‘vaccine of the forest’, it has infamous purgative and immune boosting properties that have been used to stave off illness for centuries.
Research shows that Kambo consists of peptides that have an effect on blood circulation, the gastrointestinal muscles, adrenal cortex and pituitary gland in the brain. Whilst there are no official studies to confirm results as of yet, there is reason to believe that such amino acids could have an effect in conditions such as depression, anxiety, fertility, chronic pain and more.
So how does Kambo work?
The main ways in which Kambo works can be split into medical (physiological), and psycho-spiritual. The medical properties are about the reductionist effects at a cellular level, whereas the psycho-spiritual effects look into its emergent properties on a psychological and emotional level.
Whilst we are very good at observing, measuring and repeating some of the cellular benefits from a scientific standpoint in the West, we often neglect to give the same weighting to the more subjective, psycho-spiritual benefits.
Kambo has long been used by the indigenous Pano-speaking tribes of the Amazon to release ‘panema’, which loosely translates to bad energy, or anything that dulls a person’s experience of joy, peace and prosperity, such as depression. The classical Maya, whose art commonly depicts tree frogs next to mushrooms, may also have used it. Taken by the warriors of the Amazon, it is known locally for sharpening eyesight, increasing endurance, sensitivity to smell, chronic fatigue, and improving stamina and strength.
Kambo contains bioactive peptides, which are short chains of amino acids that bind to human cell receptors. There are too many of these to list but the most notable peptides include:
1. Sauvagine: this hormone-like molecule affects the pituitary-adrenal axis and corticotropin-releasing receptors, which are heavily involved in stress, anxiety, addiction and depression.
2. Phyllomedusin: affects tachykinin receptors found mainly in the heart and blood vessels. It helps to contract smooth muscles, whilst its cousin phyllokinnin relaxes them. Both these peptides work synergistically to dilate blood vessels, improving circulation and blood flow, and increasing the permeability of the blood brain barrier.
3. Adrenoregulin stimulates the binding of agonists to A1 Adenosine receptors, which is shown to have calming effects in mice. These receptors may also offer a target for the treatment of depression, stroke, Alzheimers and Parkinsons in future.
4. Deltorphins binds to the body’s opioid receptors, making them incredibly powerful for pain relief.
5. Caerulein: similarly to Sauvagine, this peptide has a hormone-like effect. By stimulating the adrenal cortex and pituitary gland, it contributes to greater sensory perception and increased resistance. Along with sauvagine and deltorphin, it provides high dose analgesic effects, which could be what contributes to the reports of increased physical strength and ability to handle stress, disease and fatigue. In the medical field, caerulins also contribute to better digestion and relief from pain in renal colic, cancer, peripheral vascular disease.
6. Anti-microbial peptides (Dermaseptins): These peptides are involved in the defence of the frogs’ bare skin against invasion. They have shown lethal effects against the micro-organisms responsible for opportunistic infections, which often manifest in those who are immunodeficient or undergoing immunosuppressive treatment. They are broad spectrum meaning they can target bacteria, fungi, yeasts and protozoa all in one.
In studies, Dermaseptin B2 and B3 have also been shown to be effective in killing certain types of cancer. Kambo’s mechanism of action against the disease is that it can inhibit the blood vessel regeneration of tumour cells, whilst being selective for these cells specifically.
7. Bombesins stimulate the secretion of hydrochloric acid by acting on the G cells of the stomach, it also acts in the brain. Together with cholecystokinin, it creates a negative feedback loop from the stomach to reduce appetite and feelings of hunger. Which is why you may not feel like eating after your ceremony, despite fasting beforehand.
8. Tryptophilins have been found to be highly potent against the yeast Candida Albicans which commonly causes thrush in women. It is also being investigated for its potential to change perspectives on how the human brain works.
In Shamanic ritual, Kambo is used to bring about purification, clarity, strength and vitality. It is believed to be able to subjectively relieve warriors of dense energy, disease, addiction, pain and trauma, whilst increasing awareness and intuition. It does this by working on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level.
Arguably, almost all disease has a mental, emotional and energetic component. The word itself ‘dis-ease’, signifies the experience of disharmony or unease in one’s life, as a precursor for imbalance. This is the central viewpoint of almost all holistic and alternative remedies. At our very base level, we are all composed of atoms vibrating in space, and although such energy may not always be seen or measured, it’s effects and contribution are no less important.
The indigenous ‘Panema’, or dark energy, is seen as dense and low vibrational. It relates to depression, anger, trauma and pain. Many users of Kambo comment on the ‘Kambo afterglow’ post ceremony, which leaves you feeling clear, euphoric, calm and at ease. As well as working on the brain physiologically, holistic practitioners say that the medicine can help to clear energetic blocks and re-align the chakras, re-balancing the body, mind and spirit.
Kambo is a chance to reset, reflect and reconnect. Finding ways to stay grounded, before being granted the opportunity to face your ego and mental chatter during the purging process, can assist in connecting you to your higher self and intuition. Dropping into that centre of calm and thinking about what actionable steps you’d like to take next, is an empowering way to take back the reins and make transformational changes. Such focused training in mental mindset can be applied to all aspects of your life.
During a Kambo ceremony, the role of ritual and intention setting have been scientifically proven to play a part in stimulating the body’s self-healing mechanisms, by actively engaging the mind-body connection. This is why it is important to practice in a sacred container, one that respects and enhances these elements of the process. The role of the shaman is to hold a compassionate and open space, where warriors are safely able to let go and release.
There is also something to be said for engaging with the medicine both as an individual and as a collective at the same time. Although everyone has their own unique purging process, there is solidarity in the suffering and reward to be found in the result. For a compound that is non-psychoactive, it certainly offers immense spiritual insight, combined with potent mental healing effects, that could rival other Amazonian remedies.
Kambo could clearly be described as the nuclear bomb equivalent of the annual flu jab, tackling a whole host of possible ailments and systems in one. It appears that this holistic Holy Grail has been handed down throughout the centuries for good reason.
The question is, will you be giving it a go?
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P.S If you're interested in learning more about how to heal with Kambo frog medicine, check out the link below for details on our upcoming training courses.