Kambo, the venomous secretion of the Amazonian frog Phyllomedusa bicolor – also known as the giant monkey frog – has long been used as a medicine by indigenous communities, and is now becoming increasingly popular among Westerners. It contains a wide variety of peptides (or short chains of amino acids), many of which have been found to be highly beneficial for both physical and emotional wellbeing. For this reason, it is currently being explored as a tool to facilitate recovery from addiction.
Kambo should never be taken without the supervision of an experienced practitioner, who will apply the venom onto a small burn made on the skin of the patient. Within seconds, the effects of the kambo will become apparent and an intense purge will begin shortly after, during which the body sheds a wide array of toxins. Though the experience is not pleasant, people tend to feel uplifted and cleansed afterwards.
In indigenous Amazonian cosmology, kambo is thought to remove negative energies known as panema from the body. From a western scientific point of view, this effect might be attributed to opioid peptides such as dermorphin, which bind to the opiate receptors in the central nervous system in order to relieve pain and create a sense of wellness and relaxation. But because the opioids in kambo are thought to be around 400 times more powerful than morphine, it is not considered safe to use the medicine more than once a month, and kambo should not be used to try to alleviate acute withdrawals from heroin or other opioid drugs.
Once these spiritual and physical toxins have been purged and the central nervous system has been calmed, people find that they are often able to access deep or hidden thoughts, feelings and emotions. By working through whatever comes up and releasing any energetic or emotional blockages, it is possible to become more grounded, conscious and happy – all of which are essential for overcoming addiction.
Among the many other peptides present in kambo is phyllocaerulein, which induces vasodilation and increases the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. For this reason, kambo is thought to ‘open people up’ to other visionary medicines such as ibogaine and ayahuasca, and is therefore sometimes offered in conjunction with these substances.
However, because of the opioid peptides present in kambo, it is important not to take it too soon after ibogaine, as it can potentiate the effect of the medicine – and that of other opioid drugs as well. Anyone interested in using kambo to help treat their addiction should therefore first consult an experienced provider with a qualification from the International Association of Kambo Practitioners (IAKP).
Alcohol should be avoided for several days either side of using kambo, and many other drugs or medications may also be unsafe to mix with kambo, which is why it is so important to follow the safety advice of an experienced practitioner.