Kambo, also known as Frog vaccine or Vacina do sapo (the Brazilian Portuguese name), consists of the poisonous secretions of the skin of the Kambo, the latter being a species of frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor).
Apart from the label Kambo and its scientific denomination, the frog also goes under other names, such as giant leaf frog, bicolor tree-frog, blue-and-yellow frog, or giant monkey frog, among others. The species is typically found in the Amazonian rainforest, notably in Peru, Bolivia, the Guianas, Brazil, and Colombia.
The frog is used to produce Kambo Medicine, a traditional indigenous Amazonian treatment to strengthen, vitalize, detoxify, and cleanse the body, also used as a protection to ward off or dispel bad luck, malevolent spirits, negative energies, and emotional traumas. Additionally, it’s thought that Kambo may help to battle addictions, fevers, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, stress, depression, pains, infections, infertility, rheumatism, diabetes, and even cancer, hepatitis, HIV, and Aids.
Kambo treatments are usually applied in a group setting, called a Kambo circle or Kambo ceremony, and are often performed in conjunction with or within the context of an Ayahuasca retreat.
The Kambo ceremony consists of making small burns on an arm or leg by using a smoldering stick or vine, then subsequently pealing of the blisters, and applying the wet Kambo secretion directly to the wounds (also called a transdermal procedure), where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream of the receiver. As a rule, the secretions are removed from the wounds after about fifteen to thirty minutes. Usually, the participant will drink a substantial amount of water immediately before the Kambo application to help absorb the toxins that are released by the body.
Mind that Kambo doesn’t contain psychoactive properties. Nevertheless, there are quite some side effects of the “Frog vaccine,” which are mostly physical and appear rather immediate after its application. Reactions may include vomiting, nausea, heat, diarrhea, abdominal pains, dizziness, headaches, increased heart rate, sweating, swelling of the lips, eyelids, or face, muscle spasms and cramps, and loss of bladder control. The symptoms may last from five minutes up to several hours.
There have been cases of Kambo Medicine application that resulted in much more severe reactions, such as psychosis, kidney and liver damage, toxic hepatitis, dermatomyositis, pancreas damage, seizures, and even death.
Nonetheless, Kambo is legal in most countries, but it’s advised to administer it only with the help of experienced practitioners, Shamans or Curanderos.