WHAT IS KAMBO?
Kambo is derived from the secretion of the Amazonian Phyllomedusa Bicolor frog. This secretion contains a unique mix of bioactive peptides that produce incredible benefits for the body and mind. Italian pharmacologist Vittorio Erspamer of the University of Rome and two-time Nobel Prize nominee was the first scientist to analyze Kambo in a laboratory, concluding that Kambo contains a “fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications unmatched by any other amphibian.”
The benefits of Kambo stem from the bioactive peptides and neuropeptides found in the Kambo secretion. The bioactive peptides found in Kambo positively affect humans due to their health-promoting properties. They can exert several beneficial effects like preventing diseases or modulating the physiological systems once they are absorbed in the human body. These peptides perform a broad range of functions that can be involved in the gastrointestinal system, the cardiovascular system, the immune system and the nervous system.
Tribes of the Amazon often refer to Kambo as "Hunting Magic" as it strengthens the physical body and the mind. Kambo brings energy and stamina into the body and sharpens the senses. It makes the mind still and allows one to think clearly. The small things that bother us daily do not seem to be as significant following a Kambo session, allowing one to focus on the things that truly matter in life.
People have reported improvements in the following
conditions following a Kambo session:
Blood circulation problems
***Disclaimer: Kambo is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any of these conditions!
BRIEF HISTORY OF KAMBO
According to Huni Kuin legend, Kambo is supposedly named after Kampu or Kampum, the legendary Pajé (medicine man). After the members of the tribe fell ill, their Pajé exhausted all options of medicinal herbs to cure them but nothing helped. During a sacred plant medicine ceremony, he received a visit from a forest spirit who brought forth a frog, from which she took a secretion, and taught the Pajé how to apply it. Later, he returned to his tribe and, following the guidelines, he was able to cure his tribe members. After his death, it was said that his spirit lived on in the giant monkey frog and continues to protect the health and heal those who seek it. The secretion became known as Kambo, however in some tribes it is known as Sapo, Dow-Kiet, Kampu or Vacuna de Floresta.
Kambo has long been used by indigenous Pano-speaking groups in the Amazon, including the Katukina, Asháninka, Yawinawá, and Matsés (or Mayoruna). Traditional uses of Kambo include increasing strength and stamina and dispersing negative energy, or panama. It is primarily used in the rainforest as a hunting aid, reducing the need for food and water and minimizing the human scent.
The first Westerner to witness Kambo use in the Amazon was the French missionary Constantin Tastevin, who stayed with the Huni Kuin in 1925. According to his informants, the ritual of self-envenomation originated with the neighboring Yawinawá.
Kambo was rediscovered in the 1980s by journalist Peter Gorman and anthropologist Katharine Milton—both of whom spent time living with the Matsés/Mayoruna of northeastern Peru/southwestern Brazil. They each supplied Kambo samples to the biochemists John Daly and Vittorio Erspamer, who analyzed the secretion's peptide content and saw great medical potential. Pharmaceutical companies have made efforts to synthesize and patent Kambo peptides, and have made promising strides towards new and effective medications derived from the Phyllomedusa peptides.
International awareness of Kambo continues to grow, having spiked around the mid-2000s. Today, Western-trained applicators hold Kambo ceremonies around the world.
Kambo is legal in the United States and most, if not all, other countries. The only restriction appears to be the Brazilian government's 2004 ban on Kambo's commercialization.
Ethics Around Kambo
Due to the ongoing demand and popularity over Kambo in recent years, there is a growing concern over ethical practices around the treatment of the Phyllomedusa bicolor (or waxy-monkey tree frog). The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) endangered species database lists them in the "Least Concern" category, in view of their current wide distribution and large population. Also worthy of mentioning, the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog has no known predators.
The Kambo frog is fairly easy to track down in order to extract the secretion. While still dark out, the indigenous tribes who harvest Kambo go into the jungle and imitate the frog's song in order to locate them. The frogs willingly come down, are gently tied by the legs and harmlessly stressed to induce the secretion. This waxy substance is then scraped from its back and legs and put onto wooden sticks where it is dried and can be stored for up to a year. The frog is then released back into its habitat unharmed, still left with enough of its secretion so that it still has protection in the wild. The markings on its leg indicate that it was recently harvested and can take up to three months to disappear, therefore it won't be used again until the rings have fully disappeared.
Even though the frog may be stressed at times of harvest, the frog is not dispatched. This frog is considered sacred and held with the upmost reverence by the indigenous tribes who work with it and will continue to be protected by these tribes. One last word on ethics regarding Kambo: these frogs will no longer produce their secretion if held in captivity, therefore, they will always remain wild and free in their natural habitat.
Sananga, also known as Becchete (a Matis and Matsés word for a medicinal plant) are very powerful eye drops extracted from the shrub Tabernaemontana undulate, which contains iboga alkaloids. When applied directly to the eyes, it's said by the tribes to have the effect of giving the environment greater texture and dimension. Sananga's ability to improve vision is its most well-known attribute. Along with enhanced vision, it has been known to increase energy and may even provide relief from pain.
Often before Kambo, one might be anxious or nervous about the upcoming experience and might feel "stuck in their head." The optional offering of sananga allows the participant to "get out of their heads" and grounded into their body. Although the experience of sananga can be challenging, after time it can allow the participant to fall into a deeply relaxed and even sometimes meditative state. This helps one to relax and prepare for the upcoming Kambo experience.
Hapé, or rapé (pronounced ha-pay), is a sacred shamanic snuff that's been used by the tribes of the Amazon basin for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years and is essential to their culture and history. It is traditionally prepared by a ceremonial pounding of wild tobacco with tree ashes and then patiently filtered through a fine mesh. The ashes come from the bark of a variety of medicinal or sacred trees. South American shamans use of tobacco is sacred, wholesome and medicinal and their use has little in common with our western ways of tobacco use. Rapé has been used by the indigenous tribes for several purposes, such as initiation rites, social rites, female puberty rites, and healing ceremonies.
The benefits of rapé include: the ability to cleanse the sinuses and respiratory tract; calms and stills the mind, allowing one to enter into a meditative state; helps disperse negative and dense energies/emotions; provides a calming and grounding effect before a Kambo session.