Kambo Frog Medicine: From Tribal Ritual to Modern Wellness Trend

Christel Thimont
Written by Christel Thimont

Kambo is a traditional Amazonian Indian ceremony that has been adapted to modern medicine. It uses the naturally occurring secretion of the Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog, and has the rare distinction of being promoted as both a scientific medicine as well as an alternative therapy medicine for the body and soul.

Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog

The active substances within Kambo medicine are bioactive peptides known for their anti-inflammatory abilities, boost to the immune system, as well as their positive psycho-active properties.    

The term “Kambo” can simultaneously refer to several related elements:

  • The Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog
  • The skin secretions of the frog
  • The medicinal properties derived from those secretions
  • The traditional ceremony where Kambo is applied to openings in the skin

The Origins of Kambo

The Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog (Phyllo medusa Bicolour) is also commonly known as the blue and yellow frog, giant leaf frog and the waxy monkey tree frog.  Its natural habitat covers the upper Amazon rainforest.

It spends most of its life high up in the trees and moves about at night. These frogs have no natural predators and are not endangered; however, their habitat is under siege by human encroachment.

What makes the Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog unique are the bioactive peptides that it secretes through its skin (deltorphin, deltorphin I, deltorphin II and dermorphin, among others).

Kambo Ceremony

Also known as the Kambo cleanse or ritual, the Kambo ceremony is where the secretions of the frog are applied through small breaks in the skin called gates. These breaks are often laid out in a simple line or circular design on the shoulder, back, ankle or leg.

As the natural Kambo frog secretions are dried after harvesting, water is mixed with the medicine and formed into small globules. They are placed on the skin breaks where the medicine enters the lymphatic system (relatively) quickly.

The quantity of points used depends on the number of times that the person has already received treatment, the reason for the application, physical condition and overall assessment by the practitioner based on her/his knowledge.

Application of Kambo to the Skin Points

While the initial physical reactions are not comfortable in a variety of ways to different people, the after-effects include a feeling of increased strength, heightened senses and a stronger immune system. The recipient’s mind often becomes clearer, focused and some say they receive specific intuitive messages. Kambo works mostly to purge the body of toxins, heaviness, and dullness of body and spirit. Many people report feeling peaceful (immediately after the treatment) and amazing (the following day). The benefits that many report usually come in the days and weeks that follow the treatment.

A typical Kambo group ceremony lasts 3.5-4 hours (private sessions last about 2.5 hours). The time spent in the peak of the cleansing and purgative process can be as short as 10 minutes and as long as a couple of hours. Kambo is a very physical experience.  The Practitioner assists in all situations. After the purge, the Kambo dots are removed from the body and the major part of the ceremony is over. The gates are immediately covered with Dragon Blood, a natural antiseptic liquid, actually the sap of the Dracaena cinnabari tree.

Kambo’s Modern Medical History

Vittorio Erspamer, an Italian pharmacologist and chemist best known for identifying serotonin, was the first scientist to analyse Kambo in a lab. He found that the frog’s secretions contain a ‘fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unequalled by any other amphibian’. He primarily studied the effects of opioid peptides in the frog’s secretions and how the native Indian populations applied and used these to create euphoric and analgesic effects.

Some of these peptides have been found to heighten sensory perception, increase stamina, physical strength and boost the capacity to manage pain and stressful situations.

Other medicinal properties of this secretion are its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiviral effects, and ability to heal infections. Due to the presence of bioactive peptides, Kambo is one of the strongest natural antibiotics and anaesthetics found in nature.

When To Use Kambo

The indigenous tribes say the main reason to receive the natural vaccine is to remove ‘Panema’, which is the thick cloud of haziness that sits on top of the energy field of a person. ‘Panema’ can also be translated as bad luck, laziness, depression or confusion.  It is the state of being that attracts discomfort and disease. Kambo is said to remove ‘Panema’ and bring the person back to his/her natural state of perfect harmony and highest physical, emotional and spiritual potential (reconnecting one to self).

As well as this energetic clearing effect, Kambo also has potent physical benefits. Kambo is used as a traditional shamanic medicine to gain strength, maintain or regain health and provide immunity. The tribes often apply it before hunting to increase strength, improve vision and lend the hunters a ‘magical’ ability to locate prey. It is also used to cleanse the body of illness, such as headaches, allergies, thyroid problems, arthritis, infections, addiction to pharmaceuticals, drugs, nicotine, alcohol and so on. The tribes also use it for rainforest-specific issues such as malaria, snake and spider bites.

Understanding one’s desire to experience Kambo is a fundamental key to our own healing and conscious awareness.

Kambo works with your intention and what is needed most in that particular moment. Upon receiving the medicine, it scans your body and goes where it is most needed. Working with the Frog Spirit is a very personal relationship and will vary every time, depending upon your intention and what the spirit is calling for.

Be prepared to experience great changes in your life!

Is Kambo for Everyone?

Without exception consult an experienced practitioner in your area if you find yourself interested in working with Kambo.

Not everyone can have Kambo: there are contraindications and exceptions, hence it is important to have an initial consultation. Be honest with your practitioner about your health concerns and any medication taken regularly. Most people can safely have Kambo.

For any more information, contact Christel Thimont

Main -Photo by Tom Fisk