Alternative medicine is becoming increasingly popular and people are excited about trying out remedies from exotic places. Kambo is one of these treatments but is unique in its origin and administration.
Kambo is a ritual from the indigenous tribes of western Amazon that has been passed down from generation to generation for nearly 2000 years.
Early in the last century, it was rediscovered as many people migrated from north-eastern South America to western Amazon and the tribes received exposure.
Kambo is biomedicine that is extracted from a species of frog called the giant monkey frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) that is found only in the Amazonian rainforest.
Many species of frogs secrete a gelatinous substance from the glands on their skin, and this substance is highly concentrated and usually contains many bioactive compounds.
The main families of bioactive peptides in Kambo are:
These are chemicals that act on the digestive system and are the main reactive substances in Kambo.
Phyllokinins are vasodilators that are also antimicrobial and antifungal.
- Caerulins and sauvagines
Both chemical types stimulate the adrenal cortex and pituitary gland and improve the capacity to tolerate pain, stress and disease.
Adenoregulins work on the adenosine receptors and can potentially help treat depression, stroke and cognitive loss.
Frogs produce dermaseptins to defend against microbial invasions and can help us protect ourselves against skin diseases that are caused by bacteria and fungi.
The history of Kambo
Tribes-people believe that once, a legendary shaman named Kampu was looking for a treatment for his extremely sick tribe. Having exhausted all other means, he approached a forest spirit who told him of the medicine obtained from the giant monkey frog, which came to be known as Kambo.
The mythical origin aside, kambo has been used by tribespeople for centuries before western people discovered it. The French missionary Constantin Tastevin lived with a tribe called the Kaxinawa who introduced him to Kambo in 1925.
It was rediscovered in the 1980s by a journalist-anthropologist pair who visited Peru and Brazil and popularized the ritual. Since then, several pharmaceutical companies have tried in vain to recreate the extract to make it marketable.
Since 2004, in Brazil, Kambo is protected as intellectual property of the indigenous tribes and must be used as per the traditional practice only.
How is Kambo extracted?
Giant monkey frogs are nocturnal creatures; hence it is tricky collecting Kambo. However, they have a specific call that trained shamans can identify and use to locate the frogs. Local tribesmen even know how to mimic the call and attract the frogs towards them!
Once the frog is found, it is held in place and the secretions from its body are scraped with a wooden stick carefully and left to dry. Sometimes, the frog is tied to straw strings delicately to make collection easier. Other times, the frog can sit on a branch during collection.
Only the first secretion is collected to let the frog defend itself against predators. The process does not hurt the frog, and once the collection is complete, it is released into the wild.
Kambo is traditionally extracted with the utmost respect for the animal and no harm is intended. The species is also in the least concern category, so if you are worried about conservation, rest easy.
Kambo Treatment: what are the benefits?
As outlined earlier, Kambo has several compounds that can be bioactive and help recover from and protect against several diseases.
Proponents of Kambo believe that it can purge the body of toxic substances and purify the mind and spirit. Traditionally, Kambo treatments has also been believed to bring luck, increase stamina and cure physical diseases.
There is some scientific basis to think that Kambo can cure diseases. Kambo has several interesting bioactives that can act on the digestive and nervous system in positive ways. It can hold the potential to cure Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and some forms of cancer.
People suffering from the mental illnesses of depression, anxiety and stress can also benefit sometimes. The compounds can also help improve cases of infertility and alleviate migraines. And because of it’s anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties, many people praise the benefits of Kambo for addiction.
What is a typical Kambo ritual like?
Kambo is traditionally administered by a shaman through a ritual or ceremony. During the Kambo ceremony, the shaman burns small holes in the top layers of the skin and apply a tiny amount of kambo to each new burn.
Typically, it is administered to the shoulder, but sometimes also the back, legs or feet. Once kambo is administered, some people feel unpleasant, and can experience one or many of the following:
- High heart rate
- Muscle contractions
These feelings are usually accompanied by a feeling of burning all through the body and can last from a few to several minutes. However, the feelings begin to subside and the shaman will encourage the patient to drink plenty of water to rehydrate. This encourages the removal of toxins from the body.
Remember that kambo is a poisonous substance and can cause health issues and death if not administered properly. A trained practitioner must oversee the administration of the ritual and adjust the dosage and placement for every person.
Does Kambo work?
Although it has been in use for several centuries, kambo has not been rigorously tested scientifically and medically. However, the substances that compose it have been tested for many years. The compounds in kambo have various positive effects on the body, especially in muscle contraction and relaxation, blood vessel dilation and stimulation of the nervous system.
Word-of-mouth reports vouch that kambo works and cleanses the body. However, if you are interested in trying it out, remember that it is a poison. Never self-medicate yourself with kambo or any other substance.
Using it incorrectly can cause vomiting, sweating and elevated heart rates. It can also cause death, even if applied on the surface of unbroken skin.
To avoid this, make sure you visit a reputable and experienced practitioner to receive the best kambo treatment without risking your life.
In a nutshell:
Kambo is a tribal treatment that cleanses the mind and body and helps you purge your body of physical and mental illnesses while also making you more resistant to infections and diseases. Its popularity is on the rise, and this makes it imperative for you to double check the person who will administer the treatment to you. Stay informed and stay healthy!
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