The Kambo cleanse or Kambo ritual is known as a way to cleanse and purify your immune system. It is supposed to have curing benefits which I will explain later on in this post. I recently did this cleanse myself and I want to share with you my experiences (I’ve never felt that bad before!) as well as some general information about the whole ritual so you can decide for yourself whether you want to do it or not – and prepare accordingly, if you do.
Note: Excuse the bad photo quality, I couldn’t take photos so had to use screenshots of my video material!
The whole ritual involves using, get this – the poison of a frog! These frogs are naturally abundant in South America, so this is where the ritual started. In Portuguese, it is known as the “vaccine of the forest”. Though it started in South America, it has gained worldwide popularity, with the ritual also known to be a treatment for chronic pain and drug addiction.
You’re probably wondering how on earth anything that is poison can have any health or curing benefits. To be honest, I’m not sure it has. What’s for sure is that Kambo is a very powerful substance and you can’t just go off and administer it on yourself or find some random person to do it. You need someone who is an expert and an experienced practitioner. Just the same as how you wouldn’t go to just about anyone except a doctor or health practitioner if you have a serious disease (though I’m not a huge fan of school medicine).
The practitioner is there to guide you in the ceremony. He first helps you set an intention (you should know why you’re doing it!), ensures that it’s being done to you properly and supports you during the ceremony. You will need him/her, trust me!
Before sharing all the background information and facts with you, let me just tell you how it was for me and why I did it in the first place.
I had never heard of Kambo before, but when a friend told me that there is an Austrian practitioner in Dahab (my home base in Egypt) and he did the ritual with him, I was intrigued. I’m always interested in alternative healing methods and I looove new experiences. Taking frog poison sounded like a pretty cool thing to cross of my list of crazy experiences, even though it was never on that list until this very moment I heard about it.
I did some research online, read raving reviews and most importantly I got convinced by my friend’s positive experience. He was feeling much better physically as well as more “light-headed” – in the most positive way. Apparently, it seemed to be easier to see the bigger picture of a situation and not get too stressed and caught up in your emotions after your body gets rid of all the toxins. Because that’s what the poison does: It makes you (excuse my words) throw up, shit and sweat like a pig.
“Sounds lovely, exactly what I need!” – I thought. Jokes aside – I’ve always had depressive tendencies, some weeks/months worse than others, but bad enough to get me excited about an opportunity to get a relief from this unexplainable feeling. After all, the throwing up was only supposed to go on for about 30-45 minutes. Better than the food poisoning I had in Thailand 😉
A day later, I met ”my” Kambo practitioner Walter (I know, doesn’t sound very guru- or rainforest-like) and went through the details with him. He told me how and where he learned to not only catch the frog and scrape the poison off of him (more about the method later), but also about his journey through various countries, “healing” people with the “medicine”, as he calls the poison. He told me about the rituals he does before he applies the poison – cleaning the room with incense sticks, connecting with the spirit, me picking a card that will be the “guide” of the ceremony and so on. I don’t remember all of it, to be honest. I rather believed in the physical cleansing effect the poison was supposed to have on my body – getting rid of all the toxins that we all have in our bodies, through…. Well, basically through all openings of my body.
The next day, he came to my house – it was just me and him. I hadn’t eaten in about 16 hours, as it would have just made the process harder for me because of all the puking. I set up two cameras (which unfortunately failed to record until the end, I guess even the technical gadgets were too disgusted by me, haha), gave my dogs something to chew on so they would be busy and distracted, put on comfy clothes and prepared a bucket. I was all in.
While Walter did his thing with the incense sticks, owl feathers and so on, I had to start drinking A LOT of water. If you know me, you know that I LOVE water. I drink like 5 liters a day easily. But chugging down 3 liters in 5 minutes is absolutely gross. I was getting dizzy and nauseous already, no poison needed. It’s an important part though, that way your body can really wash out everything.
Walter was ready. He lit up a little wooden stick and burned hole after hole in my ankle, five in total. I have quite a few tattoos so I’m used to pain, but I can’t say it was fun, that’s for sure. Next step: Poison! I layed down because a few seconds after the application I would most likely get extremely dizzy and hot, I was supposed to feel a heat crawling up from my ankle to my head. And so it happened. First of all, smearing a toxic paste on open wounds hurts like a m*****f*****!!!! I immediately started feeling hot and my throat and tongue felt numb. It hit me really hard and shortly after, I started throwing up like crazy. I was on fire! My body definitely wasn’t a fan of my decision to deliberately apply poison to my skin. Not at ALL!
Next came something I didn’t think would ever happen. I DID MY BIG BUSINESS IN FRONT OF A MAN. A man I hardly knew. Even weirder: I didn’t give a SHIT (pun intended!) 😀 I really didn’t care he was in the room. He had to help me get there because I wasn’t strong enough to walk on my own, and it was very very very urgent. I was feeling so horrible that I noticed that I was doing it while he was in the same room, but I just didn’t care. I wanted to get rid of everything. Butt on the toilet, head in the bucket. Favorite position, safe! I couldn’t even lay down when I finished, I couldn’t move my head that far from the bucket. My best friend.
When he was circling me burning his Palo Santo incense, I swear, if I had had the energy, I would have choked him. Until today, I can’t smell this stuff. It tickled my nausea so badly, I couldn’t hold it when I smelled it, and he did it again and again.
Another (not very energetic) run to the bathroom, a few more bucket rounds and it finally started wearing off a little. I remember asking myself about a million times why the heck I would do this and swear to myself I’m never going to do it again. I wanted it to stop so badly… I still feel sorry for myself just thinking back to this very intense hour of my life.
They say you have a very strong feeling of a weight being lifted off your shoulders shortly after the worst is over. I did feel much better after, but I’m guessing it’s a normal feeling of gratitude that you’re not feeling like you’re about to die anymore.
They also say many people don’t feel the urge to smoke anymore, and that they’re craving healthy food. I lit up a cigarette an hour later and thought about where to get a big portion of crunchy fries. I was exhausted, I was drained, and I felt lighter. Which is no surprise when you just threw up like 4 liters or so.
Basically, I didn’t really feel any of these great things my friends and the internet stories told me about. It may have been good or really bad for my body, on a physical level. It is a poison and it strains your body and takes a lot of minerals and vitamins that you need to fill up again the next days. I noticed that I got huge really dark bruises by the slightest touches during the next two weeks.
More of my friends did the Kambo ritual and were super excited about it and felt much better than before, so I can’t say that I think it’s all complete BS. For me though, it didn’t do anything and I wouldn’t do it again.
So, those were my personal experiences, let me get a little deeper into the facts:
What exactly are the benefits of this powerful poison (supposedly)?
Research since the 1980s have shown the chemical makeup of the poison. Italian scientist Vittorio Erspamer of the University of Rome wrote that this secretion contains a chemical cocktail which may have potential medical applications that you can’t find in any other amphibian. These so called ‘peptides’ that are found in the Kambo, are bioactive and they bind with receptor sites found in the brain. These then trigger chemical reactions in our bodies. Researchers have found the bioactive peptides have an effect on gastric and pancreatic sections and blood circulation among others.
The Kambo poison is known to help ease blood pressure, have a cleansing effect and also to cure some illnesses. One could describe it as something like a colonoscopy. It cleanses and purges toxins from your body and can have a positive effect on the overall well-being of the person who has applied it.
How is the poison collected?
If you’re worried that frogs will be harmed during this ceremony, then do not fear. They are not. The Phyllomedusa Bicolor (scientific name for these giant leaf frogs) is seeked out very early in the morning, usually the morning after it rained. The Shaman is the one who goes out to collect the frog and they do so by trying to imitate the frog’s natural song, to draw them out. The frog, in all the stress and fear of being caught sometimes naturally secretes the poison. If this doesn’t happen, the Shaman will then stretch the frog’s four legs and tickle it. This helps in releasing the poison from its skin. It is then scraped off and dried on a wooden stick.
How do you prepare for the Kambo ceremony?
You must not eat anything at least twelve hours before the ceremony. You may drink some warm herbal teas and waters. Make sure to bring a lot of water to the ceremony or keep it by your side when you’re doing it at home. You will need to drink about 2-3 litres a few minutes before. Also bring some extra clothes, a yoga mat and pillow and maybe a pen and paper. The last two items are optional, but right before the ceremony, you can set your intentions and some people like to write it down.
How is the poison applied?
As I mentioned, before the poison is administered to your skin, you must drink at least two liters of water on an empty stomach. Then the top part of your skin will be burned off by an incense stick and the poison is applied onto your burned flesh. This ensures that it goes directly into your blood stream.
During the ceremony, certain activities may take place which include the shaman singing or playing musical instruments. There may also be the burning of Palo Alto (which is like holy wood) or a ritual that cleanses your aura. It all depends really on the Shaman and what his or her rituals are.
What can you expect after the Ceremony?
Right after the poison is administered to you, you will experience blood rushing to your head. You’ll feel hot all over. The feeling of nausea and wanting to vomit will also occur. It doesn’t sound pleasant and it isn’t. Simple as that. This whole process is a cleansing and purgative experience, if you believe the common opinion. You will therefore feel really sick for about an hour, but supposed to feel much better than ever before the days after the ceremony. You will be wanting to vomit a lot, go to the bathroom for loose bowel movements, have excessive saliva. You may also be feeling a little bit more emotional and may want to cry for no reason at all.
This experience was definitely one for the books. Like I said, I wouldn’t do it again – but I made it a habit to not regret anything. At least now I know and have one more story to tell…
Keep in mind that you must take into consideration your health conditions before you do it so the whole experience will be safe for you. I’m not recommending anything, I’m not a doctor. Especially if you have a heart condition e.g. do NOT do the ceremony! Do your research and don’t be stupid 😉