The Legend of Kambo

 

Legend has it that once upon a time the Kaxinawa tribe of the Upper Amazon were struck down by a mysterious disease that defied all of their known remedies.

At night, surrounded by groaning and grieving, the elders gathered around the fire, trying to work out what was happening. Perhaps they had been cursed by a rival tribe. Perhaps it was something the Spaniards had brought into the forest.

A dire fate–even extinction–beckoned.

 
 

At this realisation, Pajé Kampú, one of the tribe's older shamans, decided to venture deep into the forest on a vision quest. In a remote spot, far from everyone and everything, he cooked a potent brew of yajé and drank it at sunset.

That night, in answer to his prayers, the Queen of the Forest appeared in his vision. Beckoning him to the trunk of an enormous tree, She flicked her eyes upwards. Old Pajé Kampú followed her gaze. Something was moving up there among the leaves...

 
Image © Pablo Amaringo
 

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You can imagine Pajé Kampú's surprise–and relief–when a bright green frog climbed down onto his shoulder. With no claws or teeth (actually, frogs do have bony protuberances in their mouths to help them chew, but these are not sharp or dangerous) Pajé Kampú wondered how this harmless creature could help him.

'Don't be deceived,' said the Queen, reading his thoughts. 'This amiable little fellow is a prince of the forest. No one ever bothers him–not even the great anaconda Sachamama!

'Is he poisonous?' said Pajé Kampú.

 

'Yes, but as you know, the poisons of the forest are medicines, if you know how to use them.' And without further ado the Queen showed Pajé Kampú how to work with the frog.

Pajé Kampú returned to the tribe and at once set about treating them with the new medicine. Needless to say, it worked! Not only did it cure the tribe of the mysterious disease, it served to cure snakebite, malaria and curses.

Indeed, the wonder medicine infused them with the spirit of the frog–a power nobody would have guessed was housed in such a little green body.

 

Harvesting Kambo

Collecting the medicine in the traditonal way.

Certain tribes of the Upper Amazon, including the Kaxinawa, Katukina, Mayoruna and Yawanawa in Brasil and the Matses in Peru, maintain a tradition of working with Kambo.

These people use it to remedy the ailments of the rainforest: snakebite, malaria and other parasitic infections, and panema or curses.

They also use Kambo for hunting, when it boosts strength and stamina and renders them invisible to the animals they are trying to catch. [Ask us for more information on this fascinating and important aspect.]

 

Almost by definition, Amazon tribespeople live in harmony with their environment. Harvesting Kambo is no exception.

The shamans call the frogs with icaros (sacred songs) and play instruments that mimic its voice. The frogs descend from the high trees where they live, allowing the shamans to temporarily capture them.

The frog is suspended on strings, allowing the secretion from glands along the side of its body to be scraped onto a bamboo stick, where it dries. The stick is wrapped in leaves. And that's it! The frog is released.

 
Photo: Bjorn Stevenson/matses.info.
 

Responsible Sourcing

Respecting the frog and its environment.
 

Resident in the Upper Amazon, the frog (phyllomedusa bicolor) has no natural predators. It is not an endangered species.

However all species are endangered by the relentless destruction of their natural habitats by you-know-who.

Big Pharma has had its eye on the frog for some time. Attempts to breed the frog in captivity have failed: captive frogs do not secrete the medicine. The scientists can't figure out why not. Maybe the frog simply doesn't want to!

Main photo Bjorn Stevenson, www.matses.info.

 

Our Kambo is sourced solely from the International Association of Kambo Practitioners, a non-profit organisation working to ensure ethical, responsible and fair trade practice between tribal Kambo collectors, practitioners and clients.

Responsible and ethical sourcing and practice is fundamental to all our activities.

Kambo.World is part of the Ayni Foundation, named after the Quechua (Inca) word for 'Sacred Reciprocity'. For information, educational programmes and immersive experiences fostering ayni between you, family, community and the environment, visit the Ayni Foundation website, launching May 30 2015.

 

Kambo Science

A natural elixir packed with peptides.
 

The secretion of phyllomedusa bicolor is packed full of peptides. These are naturally occurring biochemical molecules formed of amino acid chains linked by peptide bonds.

By convention, when 50 or more amino acids are thus linked together, the chain is called a protein.

As far as we know, Kambo contains around 139 peptides known to be crucial to the health, function, growth and repair of various human vital systems. From autonomic systems regulating breathing, circulation and digestion to central nervous system functions like proprioception to cognitive functions like attention and memory, Kambo contains a truly remarkable spectrum of building blocks.

 
 

Out of the Forest

How the Frog left the Amazon

The first foreigner to document Kambo was a French missionary staying with the Kaxinawá tribe in Brazil in 1925. The frog began to attract the interest of Western medicine in the 1950s. But it wasn't until the 1980s, when anthropologist Katherine Milton documented Kambo use among the Mayoruna tribe (also in Brazil) and journalist Peter Gorman experienced the medicine for himself with the Matses tribe in Peru, that Kambo garnered widescale Western interest.

 

By the 1990s, Brazilian 'caboclo' forest workers and rubber tappers had discovered Kambo from encounters with Amazonian tribes, and were using it as a prophylactic against malaria and other parasitic infections endemic to the region.

Francisco Gomes, who spent years living among the Katukina tribe, introduced Kambo to Brazilian cities. News of the medicine and its extraordinary powers soon spread.

 

Early in the new millennium, Karen Darke, founder of the International Association of Kambo Practitioners, journeyed into Matses territory in the Peruvian Amazon to experience Kambo for herself.

Since then, Karen has built up a vast body of practical experience, and helped evolve Kambo practice for application in the West, including the unique IAKP Practitioner Training Programme.

 

Practitioners

About Nizami and Davina,
IAKP-trained Kambo practitioners.

Treatments

Discover the range of
treatments now available.

FAQs

Frequently asked questions
and peer-reviewed answers.