Kambo Cleanse: Shamanic Frog Poison & Unravelling My Mystery Illness
Giant monkey frog.
The Amazonian frog "poison", also known as 'ordeal medicine'...
Since there are several decent websites online with comprehensive information regarding this potent medicine, I'll skip the long detailed introduction of the in's and out's of Kambo, and add some links to further reading and learning at the bottom of this post.
Kambo is often referred to as a poison, or as a venom; a detail that isn't entirely accurate.
Essentially, this traditional medicine consists of many powerful peptides beneficial to the human body, which have been scientifically studied for over three decades. According to a host of sources, Kambo is one of the strongest natural ways to fortify the immune system, and one of nature's most powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic and anaesthetic substances on the planet. It's becoming more and more well known and used in the West for these remarkable healing qualities, with stories and anecdotal evidence of people overcoming a wide variety of illnesses.
Typically, once the secretion from this frog is harvested, a small stick is heated up and burn marks are applied onto the skin of the person receiving the treatment. The medicine is applied on top of the burn marks, which is absorbed directly into the lymphatic system, causing a number of incredibly unpleasant effects (hence the term 'ordeal medicine') due to the body's interaction with the peptides.
After a short period, the experience generally results in vomiting or excavating out unwanted toxins. A rest is usually taken afterwards, and for the most part, people report feeling cleansed, or emerge with a new sense of calm and clarity.
I first learnt of this medicine last year from reading Peter Gorman's book, Ayahuasca In My Blood, followed by Sapo In My Soul, after hearing him interviewed in several podcasts.
Since then, my specific healing journey has unravelled and become more evident over the course of my Kambo cleanse. I've outlined my personal experiences below, and where this medicine journey has taken me so far...
TREATMENT # 1
I'm not sure I'd ever been so apprehensive and nervous before undertaking traditional medicine before. To be perfectly honest, I was thinking of excuses and reasons to not go through with it. Fear was definitely getting the better of me, I guess because I'd read many accounts of how powerfully unpleasant the effects could be, and how Kambo could potentially be lethal if introduced directly into the blood stream.
My Kambo practitioner opened the ceremony by playing a traditional African clay drum, called an Udu, calling the spirit of the frog in to help provide healing. After giving thanks to our ancestors and smudging us with white sage, it was time to begin treatment.
I was first up.
About 15 minutes prior to having the Kambo applied, two litres of water must be consumed, to mitigate some of the internal heat from the significant rise in body temperature, and to aid with the purging to come. Although the room was only a little cool, my teeth insisted on chattering away and my whole body shivered uncontrollably.
A single dot was burnt onto my upper left arm with a hot incense stick, and a bead of Kambo was administered; a test point, to observe my body's reaction to the medicine.
I felt a gentle tingling and burning sensation radiate throughout my arm, and continue up my throat into my head. This dissipated quickly, and it was discussed that I would have five points of medicine in total. By this stage, my pain receptors barely registered the singe from the burning stick against my skin.
Within seconds of the entire dose being applied, my heart rate increased and my body became flushed with heat. I could feel my vital fluid gushing through my dilated blood vessels, as a strong throbbing pulse began to emanate from my temples. I focused on deep, calm breathing from my stomach, letting the medicine do it's thing.
Some unpleasant stomach sensations ensued, so I swiftly grabbed my bucket and purged up what was mainly the water that I'd previously sculled. It wasn't at all uncomfortable. The act of purging and surrendering to that bodily function had become quite familiar, (and welcomed - to clear out any physical, emotional, mental or spiritual toxins) since working with Ayahuasca.
Upon reflection, this initial vomiting was moreso my own doing, rather than the commonly referenced purgatory characteristics of the medicine. I could have withstood purging a while longer, to see if the frog would have induced the process without my help.
Other's in the treatment group had expelled some interesting colours over the course of the day: greens, yellows, oranges... yet mine was clear, with limited signs of any bile or toxins present.
My rapid heartbeat and the overall intensity levelled out after several minutes, and the residual medicine which had solidified on my skin was wiped off. The red tree sap called Sangre de Grado, (aka Dragon's Blood, which has quite a peculiar and unpleasant scent) was applied to seal the wounds from any infections and to help promote healing.
According to Chris Kilham from Medicine Hunter, this tree sap has been well studied, and "demonstrates antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activity", and is "widely used on infectious skin conditions of all kinds with great success."
While others took time to lay down and rest immediately after the treatment, and some had experienced extreme swelling of the face (reminiscent of frogs themselves) which lasted for quite some time, I appeared normal and felt invigorated, wanting to move around and expend some extra energy.
Over the following few days, I didn't notice any shifts in terms of a major health boost or increased immunity, however I was aware that I was actually sleeping less hours through the night, yet waking up with the same vigour as usual. I had the calling to continue working with the frog; to see what benefits could be gained with further treatments. It would be several months until the time seemed right to delve deeper with this medicine...
TREATMENT # 2
I wasn't anxious this time around. I exuded a sense of calm throughout the ceremony. This time the dose was to be much stronger. Nine points in total. Seven on my spine, and one in each ear. I sat as still as I could in a meditative position, yet the sting from the burning stick on my back made me wince and jolt. My intentions for this treatment were very clear. To allow the medicine to provide whatever healing I needed, to focus on my breath, and surrender into stillness - no matter how unpleasant the situation and experience might become.
I could feel the heat rising quickly, as my heart rate thumped harder and faster. The pressure in my head accompanied the gentle pulsing sensation of the constriction of my throat. This was already becoming more intense than the previous treatment, yet still, I placed my trust in the medicine and sat there as motionless and calm as I could.
Pressure continued to build in my skull. It was getting to the stage where the intensity of it was too overpowering and overwhelming. For a moment, the thought entered my mind that I should get my practitioner to remove some of the points to hopefully decrease the incredibly uncomfortable and bizarre sensations in my head, yet I let that thought slip by and fade away, choosing not to associate with it.
Moments later, all thoughts ceased to emerge, as I became lightheaded and started seeing a bright white void behind my eyelids. I was losing my ability to balance and hold myself up, and from my seated position, I started to involuntarily rock back and forth. My body was vibrating intensely, and that's the very moment I passed out and lost consciousness.
My blood pressure had fallen too low, which is also a possible effect of working with Kambo, hence why I blacked out and was forced to lay down so my body could regulate itself. I must have only been out for a few seconds, and as I looked up at my helpers rolling me onto my side in all my tranquillity, I was wondering why their faces seemed to be a little concerned while I was feeling completely at peace and blissed out.
I noticed a dull pain radiating from my head, and thought I'd bumped it on the wall behind me on the way down. In actual fact, others saw my head fall back and smack right on the edge of a power socket that was jutting out a couple of inches from the wall. Apparently I hit it once, bounced back up, and re-landed on it. Unfortunately this all happened too quick for anyone to intervene and catch me.
As I lay on my side, more medicine was reapplied to my back, since I had rubbed some off with the fall. The peak intensity has passed, and I observed the heat radiate throughout my body as I continued to focus on my breath. I wasn't nauseous at all, yet I thought I'd purge up the remainder of the two litres of water I'd previously drunk, to clear out any potential toxins. Once again, the liquid in my bucket was clear, as opposed to the multicoloured concoctions of others in the group.
Afterwards, I felt humbled, yet drained. Not enough to keep me laying down to rest though. Two of the peptides found in the frog secretion are known to be 4000 times stronger than morphine, and 40 times stronger than the body's own natural pain killers. No doubt this would have blunted some of the pain from creating the large lump/indentation in my head, which I was to become more concerned about as the afternoon progressed.
Before the ceremony was over, I also received some eye burning Sananga: one drop in each eye, which burns like hot chilli for roughly a minute. Sananga also contains a number of alkaloids that not only make it a powerful eye medicine, but a plant ally that helps heal a host of other conditions, according to numerous websites. I don't have the experience or knowledge to say whether or not I can attest to it's overall benefits, as all I've really received and noticed in the past, is an intense burning of the eyes.
As the evening progressed, my headache persisted, alongside a constant pressure throughout my frontal lobe. As the saying goes, it's better to be safe than sorry, so I checked myself into an Emergency Room, where several tests were completed to check for any potential brain damage from hitting my head. After a few hours I was deemed okay, and was sent home to rest and recover.
Over the days to come, it wasn't clear to me whether these continual symptoms were resulting from a potential concussion, or if the symptoms I was experiencing was to do with the Kambo itself. As time passed on, I suspected that the medicine had stirred up something deep within my body. My intuition was telling me that it had triggered the same unexplainable illness that I'd been living with for years.
I was to unravel this piece of the puzzle a few weeks later...
TREATMENT # 3
Since the last treatment, my health had continued to deteriorate. Headaches, head pressure, respiratory problems, sinusitis, mental fog, sensitivity to light, strained visual focus, chronic fatigue...
Although these appeared almost immediately after the last Kambo ceremony, the signs and symptoms were familiar. Aside from the pain from the actual lump on my head, they weren't particularly new. I had been experiencing these same conditions on and off since 2012, when I fell mysteriously ill.
As I mentioned in a previous post, over the course of a year I gradually got better, but my health has never quite been the same. I live a healthy lifestyle, and for the most part, I currently feel as though I'm in a great place mentally and emotionally largely due to continuing the work with the plant medicines. Yet physically, it doesn't take much for me to become run down, and it generally takes my body quite a while to recover from these illnesses.
Although thousands of people use this medicine every year to cleanse and purify their bodies in a safe and controlled setting, shortly before this treatment, word had spread that a Polish woman had blacked out during a Kambo session and sadly, passed away shortly afterwards.
It was said in a news report that she experienced numerous neurological symptoms including "intracranial tightness, swelling of the brain, and a severe imbalance of electrolytes."
This sad and unfortunate event was obviously playing on my mind, due to some of the similar symptoms I was experiencing. It was later clarified that this was due to malpractice from a Kambo practitioner (who I heard had their licence rightfully revoked), and the consumption of dangerously large amounts of water. But even still, I was more anxious this time around, all due to my surrounding health issues.
Would the Kambo help alleviate some of these symptoms? Or would I be sent into another downward spiral of health problems?
Part of me said no to undertaking this journey, due to my health and the fear of any dangers that might arise. And part of me said yes - to trust my intuition that the medicine can help in one way or another, and to once again practice the release of any resistance, and surrender completely into an intense, uncomfortable and unknown situation.
And there I was. Once again awaiting the sizzle of the burning stick against my skin. Willingly taking the risk and jumping into the unknown, with hope, with trust, that everything would turn out okay.
Another nine points in total. Two on my foot, two on my upper shin, three on the outside of my forearm, another near my elbow, and one in my left ear; all corresponding with traditional Chinese meridian lines and the organs they align with.
Now I'm certainly not knowledgeable when it comes to Traditional Chinese Medicine and the meridian lines, but I trust the effectiveness of Kambo, no matter where it's introduced on my body.
The familiar heat and tachycardia once again rose in my body and continued to intensify. But surprisingly, it peaked and dropped off much faster than last time. No throat swelling, and only mild pressure and sensations inside my skull. I felt no need to purge, but I wanted to clear out any remaining liquid and potential toxins that were sitting inside me. I had to try a new tactic, and use my fingers to aid the process. A small amount of yellow bile appeared amongst the otherwise clear liquid, which strained my esophagus coming up.
With a slight swelling and puffing of the face, I felt exhausted. Mentally and physically. It was time to rest and observe my health over the subsequent few weeks.
I felt like the last treatment had provided a push in the right direction, but that only lasted a couple of days until I noticed my cognitive function become more impaired, more fatigue began to set in, and I was waking up feeling like a sack of lead each morning.
Many many months ago, I'd learned of a debilitating illness, but it was only until recently that I actually considered that I might have it myself. My signs and symptoms were in alignment with many others who suffered the same fate, and the experience of my second and third Kambo sessions and what followed, were what ultimately led me to exploring this path quicker than I otherwise might have.
Over the years, western medicine and general practitioners had failed to shine light on my condition, which has actually been a blessing in disguise. It's allowed me to take greater responsibility for my own health; accumulating the knowledge and wisdom to embody a healthier lifestyle and become more in tune with my internal self.
All of this eventually paved the path to self administering and undertaking a hair mineral analysis test. The results which I received at the start of this week, indicated exactly what I suspected might be the cause of my health issues; severe heavy metal toxicity. In particular, mercury poisoning.
Essentially, our bodies have the capacity to eliminate the heavy metals and toxins which we accumulate as a byproduct of the environment we live in, yet if the body somehow becomes overburdened, the natural process of excretion fails to operate efficiently and the heavy metals are left to cause havoc on the vital systems of the body, accumulating over life and causing a whole range of auto-immune problems.
This seems horrible, which it is. But it's also a massive relief to have found out the likely cause, or at least something that is playing a major role in my constant health struggles, and I can now begin the process of knowing which path to take to gain my vitality back.
Although there's no way of knowing for sure, after extensive research, I hypothesize that the unpleasant symptoms I experienced after my treatments, was the mercury becoming stirred up, mobilized and redistributed around my body from the effects of Kambo. Let me explain further...
Mercury exposure can come from numerous sources, some of which could be amalgam fillings, fish, certain vaccines, tattoos or breaking CFL lightbulbs. The amounts might be miniscule, but as already stated, they're accumulative, as are the side-effects. The body will remove what it can, if it can, but the rest hides and stores itself away in the organs and tissues in the brain, which can be extremely toxic, and extremely difficult to remove - especially from the brain.
I've started the safest and most effective reported protocol of oral chelation, which is basically a process of introducing supplements into the body which slowly remove the toxins. One clears out heavy metals from the body, and the other specifically crosses the blood-brain-barrier, having the ability to safely clear it out from the brain.
I recall reading that the peptides in Kambo also cross the blood-brain-barrier.
Although I haven't checked and it's highly unlikely that the research would even exist linking these two instances, it seems possible based on my signs and symptoms, that Kambo's intense stimulation of the internal systems of the body, might have either mobilized mercury from my brain, or potentially stirred it up in my body; essentially flooding my bloodstream for my body to try and eliminate it, or redistributing it and allowing it to settle in other places, causing all of the symptoms such as chronic fatigue, headaches, a decline in cognitive function, respiratory problems etc etc.
Either way, the main point from this hypothesizing steered me to make the wise decision to take a hiatus from not only the Kambo treatment I had planned this weekend, but all sacred medicine, until I've regained some of my health on this new path of oral chelation.
It could be a long journey with many dollars spent; potentially 2-3 years until I've cleared it all out of my system. I see it all as an investment in my future so that I can regain optimal vitality, and it's a great challenge - to continuously have the opportunity to practice seeing this obstacle as something to learn from. To grow from adversity. To see the lessons and teachings in all challenging situations. I may be low in health, but I'm high in spirits!
My dedication and commitment to deepening my relationship with the spirit of the frog, and continuing on this sacred medicine journey is still certainly very clear, and I'll constantly revisit the practice of making my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health & wellness in general, my greatest priority.
Thanks to all who read these updates and those who provide virtual love, kindness and support.
(If you haven't read it yet, check out my Warriors Rite Of Passage Initiation with Kambo - Three treatments in three hours. Intense.)
NEW EDIT: 2018
As a trained Kambo practitioner, I can now shed some light on my initial situation.
While Kambo can be incredibly beneficial for many people, and often enhances one's health and wellness, it can trigger a 'healing crisis' in others. It has the potential to reveal and bring out symptoms from any underlying health conditions, which is exactly what happened in my case. Instead of feeling invigorated and energised, the symptoms from my health problems were being brought to the surface.
Kambo was helping to excrete and eliminate the toxic load on my body, whilst also revealing my health condition so that I may place more of my awareness on it to continue the healing process. Known as a herxheimer reaction, sometimes for some people, things get worse before they get better. A necessary part of the healing journey for some.
Although my initial symptoms worsened after working with Kambo, it has now proved to be an incredibly ally, aiding me on my path of returning to optimal health. In conjunction with other methods and modalities to restore health, Kambo has amazing potential as a traditional healing medicine to aid others on their healing and transformational journey.
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