What is Kambo? Lyme Disease Cures Using Animal Medicines
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
Kambo is a frog venom that comes from the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog. It is an animal medicine traditionally used in the Amazon Rainforest to treat and prevent disease, and tribes in the Amazon (the Matse tribe in particular) routinely administer Kambo to infants, children, and adults as something that has colloquially become known as “The Jungle Vaccine”. This medicine is still relatively uncommon in the western world, especially in comparison with other venom and animal-based medicines like bee sting therapy, but it’s gaining traction as more and more people begin to open their minds to effective traditional healing methods from around the world.
Kambo is the venom from the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog. It is traditionally obtained by binding and then stretching the frog out (alive) between 4 sticks, sometimes over a fire. This stresses the frog, which then causes the frog to secrete a “milk”, the venom, which is then scraped onto sticks for use later (the venom may be stored this way for a long time). After the venom is obtained, the frog is released unharmed back into the wild.
Our Experiences with Kambo: Is Kambo Dangerous?
Both Lydian and I have worked extensively with Kambo. We have gone through numerous Kambo ceremonies by ourselves and with other people and we’ve also administered Kambo to ourselves and to others. During the COVID pandemic prior to the development of a pharmaceutical vaccine, a number of medical doctors in Mexico would visit a friend of ours, a local shaman, to receive Kambo treatments to keep themselves healthy. In fact, a number of average people in the community sought out our friend’s Kambo treatments as a way to remain healthy. Even while the rest of the world was on lockdown, the people who received Kambo would gather together for the ritual, which was something our family really appreciated as an opportunity for safe gatherings when everyone would remove their masks and sit in the sun to receive their 3-10 burn circles together.
Our friend taught us privately how to administer Kambo safely and even now, we give ourselves bi-annual Kambo treatments to keep ourselves healthy because this medicine does help prevent infection in our experience. The only time that we caught COVID was when we let our Kambo lapse beyond 6 months.
As an ordeal medicine, Kambo produces a fight-or-flight reaction in the body. The heart pounds at first and it’s common to really feel the adrenaline coursing through the body. This fight-or-flight reaction is followed by a parasympathetic reaction wherein people feel their faces swell and their bodies becoming very heavy. Blood pressure drops and this is the time when some people vomit.
It’s common for people to feel a lot of fear as they go through this process, but the general trajectory of a Kambo session is relatively predictable. If your Kambo practitioner does not require you to drink a lot of water prior to a session, you may not vomit. I have no never vomited as a result of taking Kambo. However, vomiting seems to occur when a person has a liver or gallbladder infection or colony or high levels of toxicities in these organs. The vomiting seems to occur as a direct result of gallbladder or liver infection / toxicity and vomiting releases these toxicities so that the body can begin to heal.
In our gallbladder book, we discuss the role of the gallbladder / liver and in causing autoimmune disease symptoms. And we also discuss a variety of methods for cleaning out the liver and the gallbladder to heal these organs. If you intend to do Kambo, consider using this book to heal your liver and your gallbladder prior to your Kambo session to ensure that you get as much as you can from your experience.
Kambo should be approached with great respect and a spirit of gratitude for the sacrifice made by the frog who “donated” his venom as a medicine. Slow, deep breathing combined with a focus on gratitude toward the frog can significantly lessen the discomforts associated with a Kambo session.
The Peptides in Kambo
Like bee venom therapy, Kambo’s efficacy is based on the presence of peptides in the venom. To date, there are 16 recognized bioactive peptides in Kambo, which include adenoregulin, bombesin, bombesinnona peptide, a bradykinin derivative, caerulein, phyllolitorin, phyllocaerulein, and others. Some effects of different peptides in Kambo include the following (note that there has been more extensive research done on the many, many peptides in Kambo, and that I have not listed all of the effects of these peptides here in this article; for a more detailed look at the peptides in Kambo and what they do in the body, consider reading this scientific review):
- Vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels), reflex tachycardia (a fast and/or irregular heartbeat), and induced hypotension (low blood pressure) are caused specifically by the Kambo peptides phyllocaerulein, phyllomedusin, and phyllokinin. Phyllomedusin and phyllokinin may also have an effect on smooth muscle contractions in the intestines.
- Phyllomedusin also affects smooth muscle in the tear ducts and salivary glands.
- Dermaseptin is able to kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoans (such as parasites) upon contact with these pathogens. This peptide doesn’t, however, do any harm to human cells. In addition, it appears to be effective in targeting both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and can penetrate biofilms, making it a particularly effective medicine against a wide range of bacterial infections.
- Dermorphine, caerulein, and deltorphin all have pain-killing (analgesic) properties and may be able to bind with opiate receptors in the body.
- Caerulein has specific action on the digestive system. It stimulates smooth muscle (like that found in the intestines), and also increases secretions of digestive fluids from the stomach, pancreas, and gallbladder and stimulates contractions of these organs as well as those of the urinary bladder. It may also stimulate the pituitary gland and adrenal cortex.
This peptide plays a role in mood changes, sedation, and feelings of fullness; it may also have an antipsychotic effect.
- Sauvagine encourages the body to exhibit a stress response, including an increase in heart rate, increased water retention, and stimulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-interrenal axis. It also can cause a decrease in body temperature. This peptide also activates smooth muscles and contractions of the stomach, gallbladder, colon, and bladder. Like caerulein, sauvagine can stimulate the adrenal cortex and pituitary gland.
Sauvagine also can inhibit thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), prolactin, and growth hormone. It can be degraded by both chymotrypsin and trypsin (digestive enzymes). Some changes following Kambo, such as reduced appetite, increased social connection, and reduced emotional reactivity may be in part caused by administration of sauvagine.
Kambo (Phyllomedusa bicolor) for Lyme Disease
Kambo has been used previously to cure Lyme disease successfully, in addition to a number of other diseases and disorders I list below. Readers should be aware that dedicated scientific research on Kambo as a Lyme disease cure is extremely limited (if not completely nonexistent), though there are numerous anecdotal reports of recovery from Lyme disease from patients who received Kambo treatments, as well as scientific research into the general physiological effects of Kambo.
In regard to the treatment of Lyme disease in particular, the dermaseptin present in Kambo is one of the most compelling peptides. These peptides, as discussed above, are able to effectively target a wide range of pathogens and can penetrate through biofilm to attack said pathogens while leaving healthy, human cells intact and unharmed. Lyme disease can change its presentation and is known to hide under biofilm barriers, especially in cases of chronic Lyme disease. Because of this characteristic of the Borrelia bacteria, dermaseptin in Kambo would be particularly well-suited to targeting this pathogen.
Other peptides in Kambo, such as dermorphin, deltorphin, and sauvagine, are known to be able to regulate a person’s immune response. In cases where an apparent “autoimmune” response occurs during chronic Lyme disease, these peptides may be able to help increase or decrease the immune response as needed. The combined effects of these peptides, along with other Kambo peptides, may ultimately encourage the restoration of balance in the entire body, including in the immune system. This balance restoration may be required in order for a patient’s body to be able to effectively combat the Lyme bacteria.
Lyme disease patients who receive treatments with Kambo should be aware that Kambo can often cause a strong effect in patients with Lyme disease in particular. Therefore, practitioners should administer a lower dose than normal at first. There should also be adequate time in between Kambo administration sessions to allow for rest and recovery, since most Lyme disease patients will experience a detox reaction and will need to heal before receiving another dose of Kambo. At least 1 week of rest between Kambo sessions is advisable.
Patients with Lyme disease who choose to receive Kambo treatments should also consider incorporating other treatment methods into their protocol in between sessions to increase the efficacy of the Kambo. Some effective and advisable supportive treatments and methods to include are:
- Moringa supplements (this is an herbal multivitamin and multimineral with a far better nutritional profile than any other multivitamin you could buy; it’s also easier on the wallet)
- Milk thistle (this is a liver cleanser and general detoxifier)
- Enemas with either Chlorine Dioxide Solution / Miracle Mineral Supplement (CDS/MMS) or organic coffee (enemas will support general detoxification and can also directly target the liver to help remove pathogens that may have set up shop there)
- Drink plenty of water in between sessions, and incorporate seawater supplements to ensure you’re getting adequate levels of trace minerals and also to improve water absorption. The seawater will also help hydrate all of your tissues more effectively. Read more about seawater supplements at this link.
Other Diseases and Disorders That May Benefit from Kambo Administration
Kambo has been used to treat a wide range of health issues, as well as to prevent sickness. It may be considered a kind of all-purpose vaccine if you’re not already sick. For those with health issues, Kambo can combine with most other natural treatment methods unless otherwise specified in this article or by your Kambo practitioner or doctor.
Some other health issues that Kambo can be used to treat include:
- Chronic pain
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Anxiety/Depression and/or other mood disorders
- Epstein-Barr viral infection
- Bartonella, Babesia, and other Lyme coinfections
- Autoimmune conditions (including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease, and more)
- Addiction (drug addiction, alcohol addiction, social media addiction, opioid addiction etc.)
- Gastrointestinal diseases and disorders
- Metabolic disorders (including diabetes, hemochromatosis, metabolic syndrome, wasting syndrome, and others)
- Low immune function
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Parasite infections
- Chronic bacterial and/or viral infections
- Spiritual afflictions (such as ancestral problems, dark energies/Panema, misalignment of chakras, life blockages, relationship issues, etc.)
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- E. coli
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Candida albicans
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Dementia and cognitive loss disorders
- Menstrual irregularities
- Menopausal symptoms
What to Expect from a Kambo Session
Kambo is frequently referred to as an “ordeal” medicine. Many people report a spiritual, mental, and emotional experience in addition to a physiological one when they take Kambo. Using this medicine requires some advance preparation to ensure that it is a positive healing experience. Though it’s possible to administer the medicine alone once you’re more experienced with it, it’s always advisable to take Kambo with an experienced practitioner at least the first few times you take it, and if you ever administer it on yourself, don’t ever do so alone (always have a “buddy” watching over you).
A good Kambo practitioner will first prepare the space (and you) for the ceremony, perhaps incorporating sage smudging, incense, calming sounds, a dimly lit area, spiritual decorations, and other elements, in addition to ensuring that pragmatics are in order (such as making a clear, safe path to the toilets and providing a bucket, and offering a space in which you can sit or lie down as you wish).
People taking Kambo are advised to fast for at least 12 hours before taking the medicine. A light snack of only some fruit or a small amount of whole grains can be eaten a few hours before the ceremony, but if you can handle not eating anything, this is usually better. You will be encouraged to drink about 1 liter or water or a traditional cassava drink before the session. It is also important to not restrict your salt intake before taking Kambo, since electrolytes and adequate hydration are essential for a safe and less uncomfortable purging process.
Kambo is administered by making small burns on the surface of the skin using a special stick. The frog venom is then “placed” into these burns, instantly gaining access to the lymphatic system and then the bloodstream. The burns are usually made on the arms, but they can also be made on the stomach, back, or another location that may specifically benefit the patient. The burns only remove the top layer of the skin. After the Kambo is administered, the effects of the medicine usually set in within 30 seconds to 1 minute, though the effects may be faster or slower for some people. These effects may last for between 5-30 minutes, with some lingering effects lasting for a period of time afterwards.
During the actual session, participants may experience any of the following effects:
- Strong heartbeat
- Symptoms of anaphylactic shock (this may include some swelling of the face, eyes, or lips, or even up to some swelling of the throat; note that this is actually a normal reaction to Kambo, not actually a formal allergic reaction, and that some practitioners administer other medicines like Rapé to help relax the body and mind beforehand in order to minimize these effects)
- Flushing / tingling in the extremities or even throughout the whole body
- Feelings of vibrations
- Pressure in the head
- Fainting (this is due to the drop in blood pressure, and isn’t unusual)
- Redness of the skin and/or paleness
- Runny nose, tears, and/or increased salivation
Some practitioners remove the Kambo from the burn marks after the session, while others recommend leaving the Kambo until it falls off itself. The entire session lasts between 2-3 hours, including the initial preparation and the period of time allowed afterwards to recover from the treatment and integrate the session. The medicine often will continue working with a patient for a few days afterwards, and unusual dreams and sudden insights are common. Feelings of fatigue, achiness, or a Herxheimer/detoxification reaction in the days following a Kambo session are also normal and expected.
Some important guidelines for safe Kambo administration include these:
- Start with a lower dose first. Kambo is administered in “dots”. Only administer one dot at first to test the patient’s reaction. More can be administered in the same sitting if the patient reacts okay and wishes to have more dots applied.
- Different patients react to Kambo in different ways; keep in mind that some patients may require a higher or lower dose than others to achieve sufficiently strong, yet safe, effects. The effects of a particular dose may even change in a single patient from administration session to administration session.
- Particularly high doses in those inexperienced with receiving Kambo can be dangerous, and may even require hospitalization. Therefore, refer to guideline 2 (always start with a lower dose first and work up to more medicine gradually).
Contraindications and Safety Considerations for Kambo Administration
People who meet one or more of the following criteria should not use Kambo:
- Those who have or have had heart disease (excluding people with stents) and those with a history of stroke, blood clotting, embolism, or brain hemorrhage
- People with a history of severe mental illness (schizophrenia, mania, psychosis, etc.)
- Women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding a child less than 6 months old
- People who have received chemotherapy or radiation within the past 6 weeks
- Those who have had major surgery within the past 6 weeks or who will have major surgery in the near fugure
- People with active pancreatic diseases or disorders (some of the peptides in Kambo may stimulate temporary inflammation of the pancreas, which in people with a healthy or functioning pancreas doesn’t pose an issue, but in people with pancreatic issues makes the medicine a potentially risky choice)
- Patients with epilepsy (or those who have had epilepsy in the past)
- Those with Addison’s disease, hypotensive syndromes like Shy-Drager Syndrome, or with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
- People with low blood cortisol levels
- Patients taking low blood pressure medication, immunosuppressant drugs, or chemotherapy drugs
- Those who have done a colonic, enema, or liver/gallbladder flush within 3 days before and after taking Kambo
People who are on prescription medications or who are also taking other powerful natural remedies are likely to be able to use Kambo safely without needing to quit taking any of their normal medicines (excluding the exceptions in the list above). Most Kambo practitioners advise that their patients abstain from all natural and pharmaceutical medications for at least 8 hours before taking Kambo, however there’s little research indicating any negative interactions between pharmaceuticals, drugs, or natural medicines and Kambo.
If you are taking SSRIs, medications with MAOI activity, or nootropics/herbs like St. John’s Wort, kratom, SAM-e, 5-HTP, or other similar natural supplements, it is advisable to stop taking these for 3 days to 1 week both before and after Kambo.
However, though most medicines will be okay to take in close proximity to taking Kambo, there are some special considerations when it comes to taking Kambo with other sacred indigenous medicines:
- Bufo alvarius, otherwise known as Sapito in Mexico or more formally as 5-meo-DMT, should not be taken within 4 weeks before Kambo administration. Doing so may cause a significantly stronger Kambo experience that may last longer than normal.
- Kambo may be taken 24 hours or more before an Ayahuasca ceremony (it’s not advisable to take it less than 24 hours before Ayahuasca though because Kambo may be too tiring in this case). However, it should not be administered after Ayahuasca since this carries considerably more risks. Wait at least 3 days after Ayahuasca before using Kambo.
- Kambo and Iboga/Ibogaine should not be combined. THough there’s little research or anecdotal information regarding the combination of these two medicines, knowledge of the function of these two substances indicates that they should not be taken together.
Keppel Hesselink, Jan M. (2018). Kambo and its Multitude of Biological Effects: Adverse Events or Pharmacological Effects. Retrieved July 18, 2022 from: https://clinmedjournals.org/articles/iacp/international-archives-of-clinical-pharmacology-iacp-4-017.php?jid=iacp
Thompson, Caitlin (2020). Kambo Frog Medicine: Everything You Need to Know. Retrieved July 19, 2022 from: https://medicinefrogkambo.com/kambo-frog-medicine-everything-you-need-to-know/
Thompson, Caitlin and Williams, Martin L. (2022). Review of the physiological effects of Phyllomedusa bicolor skin secretion peptides on humans receiving Kambo. Retrieved July 19, 2022 from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/23978473221085746
Thompson, Caitlin (2022). Kambo, Lyme Disease, and the Herxheimer Effect. Retrieved July 19, 2022 from: https://kambospecialist.com/kambo-lyme-disease-and-the-herxeimer-effec/
The Kambo Clinic (n.d). What does Kambo treat? Retrieved July 19, 2022 from: https://www.thekamboclinic.com/what-does-kambo-treat