What Is Kambo? | The Complete Guide

Sometimes you need a health reset. For most people, that means starting a new diet, following a detox program, beginning a meditation practice, or simply changing up their environment. But for others, the desire for a complete life overhaul can lead to an unusual solution, like Kambo.

Kambo is a traditional ritual that utilizes the poison of the giant monkey frog to purify the body and manage various health conditions. The controversial drug, derived from stressed-out frogs, is becoming increasingly popular, and fans claim it’s good for anything – except maybe the frogs.

What Is Kambo and Why Do People Use It?

Kambo is a substance that comes from the secretion of a specific Amazonian tree frog (the giant leaf or monkey frog). Known in Portuguese as the “vaccine of the forest,” Kambo gained a lot of traction outside of the Amazon and has been used by indigenous people across South America for centuries to heal and cleanse the body.


It supposedly does this by strengthening the body’s natural defenses and warding off bad luck. It was also believed to enhance stamina and hunting skills. Today, Kambo is known for having a range of traditional and potential therapeutic properties, both medical and psychospiritual.

Commonly described as being an “ordeal medicine,” the secretion is known for its powerful purgative or emetic effects. Despite the initial unpleasantness, though, Kambo medicine is widely used to revitalize the body and mind.

Kambo Frog: How Does Kambo Work?

The goal of taking Kambo frog medicine is to purge not only the so-called “toxins” trapped in the body but also psychological trauma and “bad juju” in general. The idea is to make oneself feel awful so that after, they may feel wonderful. Kambo advocates describe it as, basically, a thermonuclear-scale raw celery cleanse that’s good for the body and soul.

Kambo causes intense flu symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting, but the healing effects are said to be legendary.

As mentioned, Kambo is the venomous secretion of Phyllomedusa bicolor (the monkey frog). The frog skin secretes a liquid that contains over 100 different chemical constituents. The most well-known of these chemicals is a series of peptides that activate temporary hyperactivity in the immune system. Essentially, Kambo causes intense flu symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting, but the healing effects are said to be legendary.

The Amazonian tree frog has a distinct sound that can be followed to catch and collect them at night. Captive specimens are tied up by the legs and harmlessly stressed to induce the secretion. It is a waxy substance that’s scraped onto wooden splinters from the legs and back of the frog. Once dried, Kambo can be stored for more than a year without losing its potency. It’s typically mixed with saliva or water and directly applied to purposely-made skin burns.

The Kambo Benefits: Does It Actually Work?

Currently, there is no research to back up the potential healing effects of Kambo. But there are plenty of first-hand accounts from people who have taken part in a Kambo cleanse. Moreover, certain properties of Kambo peptides suggest that it may be a promising treatment for several conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Migraines
  • Chronic pain
  • Blood circulation problems
  • Addiction
  • Fertility problems
  • Hepatitis
  • Deeply rooted toxins

Anyone who is interested in using Kambo will take part in a Kambo ceremony. The first part of the ritual involves drinking about a liter of water or cassava soup. Next, a practitioner will burn small holes into the top few layers of the person’s skin using the end of a burning stick. Then, a small amount of the venom will be administered directly to each burn.

Typically, the shoulder is used for Kambo administration, but some practitioners may also apply it to the legs, back, or feet. From the burn wound, the substance enters the lymphatic system and bloodstream, where it supposedly races around the body, scanning for problems. Usually, this results in a few immediate side effects, especially vomiting.

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Once these effects begin to subside, the person is given water or tea to flush out any toxins and to rehydrate. The ceremony usually lasts about an hour, but sometimes more, depending on the individual. The experience is quite intense and causes the heart to beat faster. But once complete, proponents claim that the Kambo healing effects can be phenomenal.

Not only could it supposedly help with the conditions mentioned above, but it’s also believed to purify, detoxify, cleanse, and reboot the immune system. From a metaphysical perspective, the idea is that since frogs can’t endure toxic environments, it challenges people to release emotions like hatred, anger, and bitterness – emotions that are holding them back. Ultimately, it brings about renewal, restoration, and transformation.

What Are the Kambo Dangers?

Although it’s believed to have an array of positive effects, Kambo is a poisonous substance that can result in severe health complications or even death if applied incorrectly. The practitioner is responsible for determining the dosage and placement of the substance and oversees the ritual for safety.


Researchers don’t yet fully understand the effects that Kambo has on the human body. But there are a few intense and very unpleasant effects that are considered to be normal. The first of these is usually a rush of heat and redness to the face. Other typical Kambo side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of bladder control.

Additionally, while practitioners tend to perform cleanses safely, some people may experience more severe effects and complications after taking part in the ritual. These can include the following:

  • Short-term memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Confusion
  • Scarring
  • Muscle weakness
  • Severe and prolonged vomiting and diarrhea

Kambo is a toxic substance and can be lethal. There are reports of individuals falling seriously ill after partaking in cleanses.

Is Kambo Legal?

Kambo is legal in the United States, Canada, and most of the world. To date, Brazil is the only country to ban the commercialization of the substance. It’s also illegal to import in Chile. But everywhere else in the world, it’s legal to buy, possess, sell, and administer.

It’s important to understand that in most countries, Kambo isn’t regulated as a medicine or food.

That said, it’s important to understand that in most countries, Kambo isn’t regulated as a medicine or food. This means that in the US, it’s not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there is no oversight on quality or potential contaminants in the product.

Additionally, there isn’t a lot of science on the hazards (or benefits for that matter) of Kambo therapy, which means individuals need to keep their wits about them if they’re thinking of partaking in a ritual. Kambo cleanses are increasing in popularity, so you’re likely to hear about it sooner or later. Just be sure to weigh up the pros and cons before you agree to one.

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