Updated: Jan 3
Since I took Kambo for the first time 10 years ago I became fascinated with the way this incredible medicine works within the human body. Often referred to as an “intelligent medicine” Kambo has the power to go to where it’s needed and heal on many different levels.
To find the origins of Kambo we need to go back hundreds of years, deep into the amazonian rainforest. Virtually hidden amongst the animals and the foliage you would find the “Phyllomedusa Bicolor” or “Giant Monkey Frog”. The secretion of this friendly amphibian has the power to heal and has transformed the lives of many. The use of the secretion and the bizarre and curious method of it being applied to burns on the skin is said to have come to a shaman in an ayahuasca vision.
More recently as Kambo has been brought to the West its use has taken an interesting turn in that it’s application has been augmented by fusing it with two other healing modalities - Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Indian Chakra System. Practitioners have started placing the Kambo on the acupuncture meridian lines and on the corresponding places on the body for the chakras. As I began to work more and more with Kambo I found these alternative methods popping up again and again. These methods would be completely alien to an indigenous tribesman who don't consider them important.
Many questions started coming to mind of the effectiveness of these treatments:
What would be the use of placing Kambo on the different areas of the body?
Isn’t all this just a made up Western gimmick?
If the guys in the rainforest who have been using Kambo for hundreds of years don’t do it this way then why should we?
Could it cause damage to place Kambo into such a delicate system as the acupuncture meridian system?
Let’s take a closer look in this article and see if we can come up with some answers.
Firstly let’s try to understand why someone would want to place Kambo on these points. Let’s start by defining what the meridian system is and what chakras are. In Chinese Medicine, you can think of the meridians as ducts or passages inside the body through which qi or “chi” flows. Qi is life force energy, the very essence of what we are as human beings. The meridians function like circuitry inside a closed system that can be mapped out through the entire human body as an elaborate grid.
Let's now define what the chakra system is. The word "chakra" actually means "wheel". The chakras are spinning wheels of energy in the human body. The chakras play a key role in all physical and emotional process. There are seven chakras in the human body that are positioned linearly from the root chakra which is at the very base of the spine to the crown chakra which is at the top of the head. Each individual chakra has its own characteristics, which include colour and the frequency at which it vibrates.
So now we have defined what they are we can understand why placement of Kambo in these areas might be thought to be beneficial.
In chinese medicine it is believed that a major cause for disease originates from energy imbalances in this meridian system so by stimulating the meridians with acupuncture needles one can remove energetic blocks and help the qi to flow. Different diseases and ailments will be caused by energy blocks and stagnant qi in different meridian lines. By applying Kambo to the meridian lines that correspond to the various illnesses and the organs associated with them it is believed that one can use Kambo in a more targeted way. For example, someone suffering with a disease that is believed to originate from the liver in chinese medicine, could have Kambo put on the liver meridian.
With regards to the chakras and placing Kambo on the chakra points on the body, each chakra represents a different part of the emotional and psychological make-up of a human being. By placing the Kambo on a specific chakra it is believed that, in the same way as with the meridian lines, one can use Kambo in a more targeted way. For example, someone who is having emotional issues relating to the heart (issues related to love) could have Kambo placed on their heart chakra area.
While this sounds good in theory does it actually make any difference?
Well, for starters, both of these methods are completely made up. As mentioned above, in the place where Kambo originated no one would know anything about the meridian lines or the chakras so there is nothing inherent in the traditional use of Kambo that suggests that this would have any effect whatsoever. Western people have decided to fuse the modalities of Kambo with these other practices and then claimed that they work.
When I did my Kambo training in South America I was taught to give Kambo in both the traditional way and using the meridian lines. As part of the training I received kambo many times. Before receiving Kambo I was assessed to ascertain what health issues I had and then the Kambo was placed on the meridian lines corresponding to these issues. In my own personal experience of receiving Kambo in this way, I can’t say I noticed the effect being any different to when I had Kambo just placed on my arm in the traditional way. While I thoroughly enjoyed the training and found it very detailed and extensive, in my opinion I didn’t feel any benefit in receiving Kambo on the meridian lines.
That being said I have seen Kambo applied in one of our ceremonies to a particular meridian line on the ankle (the weakest place to take Kambo) and seeing an extremely strong reaction. According to the woman who received it, it was even stronger than when she took Kambo the week earlier on the back of the neck (one of the strongest places to take Kambo).
I began to look into this further and did some research and what I’ve found is that the jury is out on the effectiveness of these treatments. I checked various forums and online groups and what I found is that some practitioners swear by these methods and have no doubt in their effectiveness and others say that they tested extensively on themselves and others and they concluded it made no difference. As the effect of Kambo is very subjective there is no way to come to a scientifically drawn conclusion as there would be no substantial evidence to prove it one way or the other.
One practitioner who was also an experienced practitioner of Chinese medicine and acupuncture said that even if Kambo was effective in this way, which he believed it was not, if you just took Kambo in the traditional way on the arm or leg and then had acupuncture needles applied to the meridian lines you would achieve the same thing; therefore placing the Kambo on the meridian lines was not necessary. I also found one experienced Chinese medicine practitioner who thought that burning the skin on these meridian lines could actually damage them permanently. Again, this is all personal opinions and in no way scientific evidence.
Something I considered about using Kambo on the meridian lines was that acupuncture needles are so incredibly fine and the burning sticks used to make the burns are not. How can one accurately make the placement of these points and be sure that they are directly on the meridian line?
Another thing that came to mind was how complex and detailed the meridian system is. Have you ever seen a poster or a model showing the meridian lines on a human body? It’s incredibly complex. Someone who has not had extensive training in chinese medicine would not be able to accurately place these points in my opinion.
With regards to the chakra points, it’s actually only possible to place Kambo on 4 out of the 7 of them. The root chakra is actually the perineum (the area between the sex organs and the anus) so this is not a viable place to receive Kambo and the third eye and crown are brow and the top of the head respectively; also not viable places to receive Kambo. In regards to results, I have seen some quite powerful emotional responses when Kambo is placed on the heart chakra but aside from that, I can’t say that I’ve seen or heard anything that would suggest that placing Kambo on the chakra points makes a difference.
There is another aspect to consider - placebo and intention. When working with medicines, intention is so important, it really can make all the difference. Even if these methods do not enhance the effectiveness of the Kambo, if by placing the points in these ways focusses the receiver’s intention and in a sense creates a placebo effect then that could be a good enough reason to use them.
So in conclusion, the jury is out on the effectiveness of these treatments. All the evidence is anecdotal and I have yet to see anything that would make me believe, beyond doubt, that they work. My advice would be to try them yourself and make up your own mind.
Until next time,