I am not what you might consider an impulsive risk-taker. An invitation from a friend to join with her to take a powerful but toxic-sounding medicine from the Amazon jungle sounded intriguing. On second thought….
First, consider the method of application of the venomous slime of the Giant Monkey Tree Frog (or Kambo). A drop of thick goop is patted onto fresh little burn wounds on the skin of the upper arm. This first step by itself can be a deal-breaker for many. On the bright side, any scars left afterwards look exotically tribal, like a mark from an ancient rite of passage.
This slime is responsible for the fact that this particular frog has no predators. Anacondas will quickly spit them out should they bite down on one by mistake. Within a minute or two of getting the dab of the Kambo potion, the body is said to heat up like a niacin flash from hell as the medicine/poison surges through the lymphatic system. There’s no hallucinogenic high from it. Instead, you’ll probably go low, as in bending over a bucket to throw up as many do within 10 minutes. Barfing together is a bonding experience bar none. Strangers become friends very quickly.
The little voice was telling me not to dismiss the offer without considering the body of evidence. It’s not some New Age fad. It’s legal. It has been in use for thousands of years and wouldn’t have passed the test of time if there weren’t something to it. The articles I read described how Kambo has this uncanny ability to search through the body and discover where it is needed most. Its active ingredients include over 70 peptides (small chain amino acids), compounds that are said to have enormous healing benefits. Pharmaceutical companies have snapped up dozens of patents based on these Kambo ingredients.
Some of these medicinal properties are said to have application for treatment of brain diseases (including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), depression, migraines, blood circulation problems, fertility issues, organ diseases and many others. It is considered to be one of the strongest natural antibiotics and anesthetics found in the world. It holds the promise to empower the immune system, decrease fatigue and improve our state of health. Animal rights people will also be happy to hear that the frog is not harmed by harvesting the product—the collectors believe any mistreatment creates bad luck and bad medicine.
The invitation to the Kambo treatment/ceremony had come from my old friend Catherine Miller who is an informational magnet for these kinds of things. She has a website that encourages people to go beyond their fears to live more fully. “Do one thing every day that scares you,” read the Eleanor Roosevelt refrigerator magnet she had given me years ago. This time, after considering all of the above, I decided to take the risk and follow Mrs. Roosevelt’s advice.
Some of Catherine’s other friends were already there when I arrived, seated on floor cushions, each participant with their very own white vomit bucket. Our guide Raymond Naeyaert began talking us through what we were about to experience. Raymond had the credentials not only as a being trained in Amazonian medicine but also as a licensed nurse assistant and Ayurvedic practitioner. Part of it was no doubt to assure us that what we were about to do was safe and the range of uncomfortable if not painful sensations and reactions were normal. He asked us to confirm that we did not have a heart condition, low blood pressure or were pregnant, which would be disqualifying. “Fear is a natural emotion to feel before trying this,” he acknowledged, making it very clear to us that we were free to back out of the mission at any point.
He also went around the room and asked us to introduce ourselves and describe our intentions. Some indicated that they wanted to work on their emotional health to free up pent up feelings, break through fear-based attitudes and move forward with new vigor. Others, including myself, were not as specific, expressing an openness to go wherever the Kambo might take us.
Truth be told, I had been through some very stressful times, including the death of my father only a few weeks before. While I thought I felt okay emotionally, my body was taking the hit. Exhaustion and fatigue and a sense of feeling quite older than my 63 years were taking a firm hold. My short term memory was hardly what it used to be, forgetting if I took my nutritional supplements this morning or yesterday, or not remembering what my wife told me to buy at the store only an hour before.
Raymond explained the treatment was in two parts, the first a preparatory step that was optional. Rapé is a sacred shamanic medicine, a snuff made of a very powerful strand of tobacco and other herbs that are blown into our nostrils by the practitioner via a pipe made of bone or bamboo. “Take a deep breath and hold it,” Raymond whispered into my ear before placing the small bowl of the pipe in contact with my left nostril. Poof! It felt like a tear gas and mace attack in the first few seconds but soon thereafter the beneficial neurotransmitter compounds starting doing their stuff. I understood why hunters traditionally imbibed before going out to catch their prey. I could feel an expanding focus, intuition and awareness. Sight and sound were more vibrant. Negative emotions, including those I felt right after taking this snuff, melted away. It was all setting the table for the main course.
“Don’t look, stare instead at the candle,” advised Raymond as he made burn hole after burn hole on me, five in all, three on one arm and two on the other. It did not sting, at least not immediately. Meticulously, he administered the slime on each spot, and then placed a few drops of water on each to activate the process. For about 30 seconds, nothing happened, and then the trap door opened. The rush of heat flashed through my system. I started to feel very uncomfortable as if no shift in seating posture would give relief. Then I felt like my whole nervous system started to tremble from my core out to my extremities. “Wow, this is what it feels like to be poisoned,” I thought first. Each minute seemed like an hour. Was this ever going to end? Then very dramatically, it did, perhaps 10 minutes later. The whole ordeal wasn’t so bad, I concluded. Some had already gone before me and others would follow. A few vomited and got quite violently ill, needing to lie down for quite a while to recover. Others like myself suffered less obviously and didn’t soil our buckets.
The Kambo protocol is to have 3 sessions within one moon cycle (month). I had a wait and see attitude as I got into my car and drove home later that evening. The next morning I felt a bit hung over but no worse for wear. By the second day, the positive transformation was indisputable. It felt like my whole nervous system had been rewired. I suddenly couldn’t bear the thought of coffee, my favorite drug. The fatigue that had a choke hold on me had likewise vanished replaced by an almost boundless energy of a 20 year old. My wife said my eyes looked clearer and sharper and remarked that my sense of humor seemed much improved. My exercise program was suddenly much more effortless with improved recovery time. My general malaise was gone, and it felt somehow like I had recaptured the vitality of my younger years.
I signed up for the second session one week later. The Kambo dose was increased by one spot—but I seemed to tolerate it much better. No ill effects. Three days later, I was there for the third and last one, again increasing my dose to now 7 spots. There was only a mother and adult daughter there for the ceremony, first timers. I was the only experienced one and told them with confidence how great it had been, and how I had fared pretty well with it. I went first, and sure enough, within minutes, I gave them quite an entertaining display of projectile bile into the bucket. After a quick trip to the bathroom, I came back very much to life, much to the relief of my compatriots. Raymond commended me for finally letting go (and letting it rip). I never knew spewing could make me feel so good.
It is now a couple of weeks after, and all the amazingly positive effects seem to be holding steady. So when Raymond comes back into town again in a few months with his medicine, I’ll gladly roll up my arm for my booster. It was a risk that truly paid off!