What is Kambo?

Kambo or Sapo in Spanish is the secretion of the Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog also known as the Phyllomedusa bicolor. The frog lives in the canopy of tall trees close to waterways in the Amazon region and is in the fortunate position of having very few predators. The Kambo is harvested from the frogs by singing to them, which lures them down from the trees, where the tribesmen carefully handle the frog placing a string over its legs and tying the other end to a piece of wood. The Kambo is then harvested from the frog and the frog is released back into the wild. In the case of IAKP, all Kambo is harvested ethically by the Matses. What this means is that when harvested the frog is never harmed and is left with enough secretion to protect itself. Further, the string that is tied around the frog’s leg leaves a white mark which takes about 3 months to fade, as long as the white mark is visible the frog is not re-harvested.

Traditionally Kambo is used in three ways: before a hunt to cleanse, strengthen and energise the minds and bodies of the hunters while providing them with a sense of clarity. As a remedy for malaria, fevers, infections and snake bites and thirdly to remove dark or negative energies called panema. When panema is cleared everything becomes easier, obstacles can be overcome and life flows more naturally.

Since it has been introduced into the western world Kambo has been the subject of medical research for close to three decades. This research has suggested that Kambo may open up new treatment options for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Chronic Pain; Cancer; HIV; Parkinson’s Disease; Alzheimer’s; Vascular problems; Depression; Hepatitis; Diabetes; Rheumatism; Arthritis and Addiction issues to name a few.

Benefits of Kambo

Scientific research has begun to uncover the numerous benefits of Kambo These benefits are derived from the bio and neuroactive peptides that are found in the secrtetion and have been found to have a profound effect on the body in the following ways:

  • Deeply Cleansing and Detoxifying
  • Assisting in the management of Chronic Pain
  • Powerful Anti Inflammatory; Antibiotic; Antimicrobial and Anthithestic properties
  • Immune system boosting
  • Liver & Intestinal Cleaning
Kambo further is known to provide the following short-term benefits enhanced mood, alertness, clarity, focus, energy and increased resistance to stress, tiredness, hunger and thirst. The mind becomes still, you feel lighter and everything becomes easier to manage.

Further research by the University of Paris and Queens University in Belfast have shown promising results in antitumor and angiostatic properties of a peptide found within Kambo, called Dermaseptin B2.

While this is by no means the full list of benefits one may receive from Kambo, modern science is yet to fully understand Kambo or the complex interaction of the peptides it contains. What is known is Kambo works holistically on the mind, body and spirit of a person.

History of Kambo

The exact origins of Kambo are somewhat of a mystery as multiple tribes have claimed to have used it first and given that oral history is the predominant way tribes pass down their knowledge, it would be impossible to verify. What is known is that Kambo has been used by tribes for generations and that one of the most prevalent origin stories is that of Pajé Kampun.

The legend goes as follows: Many moons ago a tribe of Katukina people were suffering from a terrible illness, they had exhausted all known remedies to no avail. The medicine man of the tribe sought guidance from the forest and plant spirits by drinking ayahuasca to cure his people. During the ceremony, the Paje was shown the frog and how to harvest and use the medicine.

He returned to his tribe and began following the divine wisdom bestowed upon him, and so his tribe was healed of the great illness. Many years later when Kampun died, in gratitude of reverence of the medicine of the frog, his spirit merged with the spirit of the frog and from then on the medicine was known as Kambo in acknowledgement of Kampun.

The Science of Kambo

Vittorio Erspamer, an Italian pharmacologist and two time Nobel Prize nominee, was the first person to analyse Kambo in the lab. He was well regarded in his field having discovered more than 60 chemical compounds, most notable Serotonin and octopamine.

In 1979, he began to focus on opioid peptides specific to Phyllomedusa tree frog. The peptides discovered by Erspamer in Kambo have the ability, unlike many other natural and pharmaceutical substances, to cross the blood-brain barrier, enabling it to reach deep into the body and bring support to otherwise difficult to treat areas.

To date, researchers have discovered nine peptides within Kambo that perform specific functions in the body. These peptides perform hormone-like tasks while others provide support to vital cellular processes. Some of these peptides have a potent effect on the gastrointestinal muscles, gastric and pancreatic secretions, blood circulation, and on the stimulation of the adrenal cortex and pituitary gland. Many peptides have since been isolated from the Kambo secretion and have been synthesized. As a testament to their medicinal properties, there are over 70 Kambo patents lodged, mainly in the USA.
The major peptides identified in the Kambo secretion include:

Dermorphin – In the Sauvagine family of peptides, Dermorphin has an opiate like effect on mu-opioid receptors, has potent pain-killing properties and has been found to be 30-40 times stronger than morphine.

Dermaseptin – has powerful antimicrobial activity against bacteria, yeast, fungi, protozoa, and enveloped viruses that often cause severe opportunistic infections, particularly those accompanying use of immunosuppressive agents.

Dermaseptin B2/Adenoregulin – A 33 amino acid peptide that works with the adenosine receptor. This antimicrobial peptide has been show to be very effective in destroying cancer cells.

Deltorphin – Deltorphin is a potent painkiller and has a higher affinity and selectivity for delta-opiod binding sites than any other natural compound yet known.

Phyllocaerulein – A natural painkiller that modifies satiety and sedation, reduces blood pressure and affects thermoregulation.

Phyllokinin – This neuropeptide causes a long lasting reduction in blood pressure.

Phyllomedusin – A neuropeptide that is a powerful Vasodilator and has a strong effect on tear ducts, salivary glands, intestines and bowels. This peptide contributes to the purging usually experienced when taking Kambo.

Tryptophyllins – This peptide has been found to be highly potent against the yeast candida albicans, and is being researched for cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory and anticancer therapy.


While Kambo is completely safe under normal conditions there are physiological and psychological conditions which make the application extremely dangerous and life threatening and as such Kambo will not be administered to individuals with the following conditions:
  • Serious Heart Conditions
  • Medicated Low Blood Pressure
  • Brain Haemorrhage
  • Aneurism or Blood Clots
  • Stroke
  • Serious Mental Health Issues (excluding Depression, PTSD and Anxiety)
  • Current Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy patients up to a period 4 weeks after the final treatment
  • On Immune-suppressants for organ transplants
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Epileptics (Severe or current)
  • While in recovery from a major surgical procedure
  • Are under the age of 18 or lack the mental capacity to consent to take Kambo
  • Pregnant Woman or Trying
  • Woman who are breastfeeding if the child is younger than 6 months
This is not an exhaustive list and it is imperative to disclose any serious health issue at least 3 days before the circle. Suitability of Kambo may depend on the stage of a disease or the constitution of the person receiving Kambo.

The International Association of Kambo Practitioners (IAKP)

The IAKP is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the responsible and ethical use of Kambo as a modality. This is achieved through rigorous and thorough training of practitioners and ensuring that anyone who completes the training is well versed in the practical application of Kambo, safety precautions and contra-indicators and agrees to abide by the IAKP code of conducts. .

This ensures that anyone treated by an IAKP practitioner can rest easy that they are in safe hands. As the practitioner is not only competent in the modality but has a network spanning the globe of fellow practitioners who they are able to consult with to ensure treatment plans for difficult or unusual conditions will be safe and benefit the client.

The IAKP further ensures that any Kambo purchased through the organisation is harvested ethical and contributes to the sustainability of the tribes of the Amazon by providing them with a fairtrade price for their product and is actively involved supporting the Matses tribe by donating a portion of the membership fees to them. For more information about the the IAKP please visit http://www.iakp.org/.