Kambo

Kambo is the universal name used for the secretion of the Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog (Phyllomedusa Bicolor), in some areas of the amazon it is also referred to as Sapo meaning “frog”. This frog secretes a waxy phlegm from its dorsal regions, this has been ritually collected and traditionally used as medicine for thousands of years in diverse practices and shared among many ethnic groups in the Amazon rainforest. In its natural form, this secretion is not a poison per se in the sense that it does not cause any injury or eventual death but it is designed to generate a fulminating sense of extreme nausea, discomfort and disorientation in potential predators. Due to this potent tactical substance, these beautiful and complacent tree frogs have no known natural predators.


Kambo frogs are found abundantly in South America, across the upper regions of the Amazon rainforest of eastern Perú, western Bolivia, northern Brazil, southern Colombia, parts of Venezuela and the Guianas. According to common law it is widely believed that the production and efficiency of their poison is directly associated with their diverse insect based diet, environment and stimuli. These frogs either stick around in groups or keep to themselves up on tall trees. They should never live in captivity or away from their natural habitat, otherwise they will not produce enough secretion, if any at all and if any, with weakened variations in the poison’s potency.


There are diverse therapeutic methods, some more traditional and others are adapted from modern western/oriental concepts and practices. Here at Allinkana we administer or place kambo, based on the traditional Matses concept which consists of using saliva in the process of rehydrating and activating it before placing the paste on a fresh burn mark (dot). We follow similar prep protocols used by the Matses Indians prior to and following the experience. We also offer Sananga eye drops and rapé (nu-nu) for those who want it.


THE LEGEND


Although every tribe has their own folklore on the origins and use of Kambo, the one that seems to stand out and is believed to have some historical foundation on account is by the Kaxinawa tribe in Brazil. Legend has it that at a certain time, a plague infected many members of their community. As a result the tribe’s medicine man, Pajé Kampu, realised there were no plants or concoctions he knew of with enough power to eradicate this illness. He was adamant in finding an effective solution so he decided to go on a vision quest with what some believe to be ayahuasca. He ventured out into the forest and once in the depths of the jungle, he encountered a female spirit which came to him with a frog in one hand while extracting a white phlegm from it’s back with the other hand. She then taught Pajé how to apply this secretion to heal his people. Pajé found this frog placidly waiting for him on a branch, he asked the frog if he could take its medicine to heal his people, the frog consented. Pajé collected the secretion and returned to his village where he started practising what he was taught and finally managed to free his people from the plague.


It is believed that after his passing, Pajé’s spirit lived on in connection with the frog to continue his mission on the path of healing and protection. This medicine became known as Kambo (from “Kampu”) but it is also known under other terms such as Sapo, Dow-Kiet, Kampu, Vacina do Sapo or Vacina da Floresta. Apart from the Kaxinawa indians, other tribes like the Amahuaca, Katukina, Kulina, Yawanawá, Matses, Ticuna, Marubo and Mayoruna, have also adopted this medicine as their Golden Standard for immune enhancement, general health and wellbeing. No COVID 19 related deaths have been reported among the Matses Indians.



KAMBO GOES WEST


Thanks to the tradition of these indigenous people, this sacred medicine has found its way into modern society since it’s recent discovery in 1925 by a French priest, Father Constantin Tastevin.


In the early 80’s an American Anthropologist, Katherine Milton mentioned the use of Kambo among the Mayoruna tribe in Brazil. In 1986, the two times Italian Nobel Prize nominee and discoverer of Serotonin; Vittorio Erspamer of the Sapienza University of Rome, was the first scientist to analyse the Phyllomedusa Bicolor secretion in a laboratory. His investigation concludes that it is composed of a ‘fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unequalled by any other amphibian’. The chemicals he referred to are known as peptides and Kambo has a broad range of polypeptides. Erspamer’s investigations have become essential to characterise the functional role of opioid receptors. Several peptides have since been isolated from the secretion and several have been synthesised. Currently there are over 70 patents derived from the peptides found in the secretion of Phyllomedusa bicolor, mainly by US pharmaceutical companies.


In the last 15 years Kambo has become very popular in the west, also partly as a result of Peter Gorman’s book ‘Sapo in my Soul’ which gives a full account of his journey and experiences with this medicine among the Matses indians in the Peruvian Amazon. Despite it not being a plant medicine, Kambo has since then, quickly found its place in the Olympus of sacred healing therapies of the Amazon.