Traditional Amazonian Medicine



Kambo or ‘Sapo’ is the venomous secretion of the Phyllomedusa Bicolor or “Giant Leaf” frog that originates in the Amazon. It can be found in the rainforest basin, namely, Northern Brazil, Eastern Peru and Southwestern Colombia.

Traditionally, Kambo has a range of therapeutic applications, both medicinal and psycho-spiritual. It is widely known as an “ordeal medicine” due to it’s unpleasant, purgative effects and is becoming a more popular method of revitalising the mind, body and spirit.

Having been first discovered by ‘Western Man’ in 1925, by Constantin Tastevin, a French Missionary, Kambo was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1980’s by journalist Peter Gorman and anthropologist Katharine Milton. Gorman and Milton provided samples of the venomous secretion to biochemists who saw great medical potential from research they conducted into the peptides present. Although there have been attempts by pharmaceutical companies to synthesize Kambo peptides, they have ultimately struggled to create a western form of medicine from it! Thankfully it remains in the hands of the traditional healers of indigenous populations and those who have learned from them.

Traditional tribes of the Amazon, including the ancient Maya have used Kambo as a hunting tool providing increased strength and stamina and as a vaccine, eliminating toxins from the body and dispersing negative energy.

Potential Therapeutic Use

Kambo is believed to be one of the strongest natural antibiotics and anesthetics in the world, and one of the best ways to increase and support our immune systems (Ketler, 2016).

According to Van Zoggel et al. (2012), one of the primary peptides found in the resin; Dermaseptin B2 has been observed to inhibit cancerous cell growth by up to 90% through the active destruction or necrosis of the cancer cell. Dermaseptins are powerful antibiotics, which are non-toxic to mammalian cells and show to be rapid and irreversibly effective against parasitic microorganisms (Amiche et al., 2000; Amiche et al., 2008).

Adenoregulin, a Dermaseptin, affects the binding of agonists to adenosine receptors potentially making it useful in the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and strokes (Carman et al., 2011). Further anecdotal evidence supports kambo’s use in depression treatment, anxiety, and addiction (Sumpter, 2015; Daly, 2016).

Other conditions potentially treatable with the use of Kambo include'; chronic fatigue syndrome, hypertension (Anastasi et al., 1966), chronic pain (Shivani Fox, 2011), Parkinson’s disease, vascular problems, hepatitis, diabetes, and arthritis (IAKP).

Use for Personal Development

Kambo has many potential health benefits ranging from short-term; improved mood, focus, concentration, clarity and resistance to hunger and tiredness, to long-term; increased immune system function, combatant against fatigue and psychological benefits.

Psychologically, Kambo is known to increase compassion, courage and emotional stability (Thoricatha, 2017). Users tend to feel less in their heads and more in their bodies with frustration, anger, and anxiety also tending to clear. Depending on the user and dosage, these effects can potentially last from weeks to months.

Traditionally, Kambo is used to clear panema, or the build up of negative energy throughout a person’s energy field which typically presents itself as laziness, bad luck, depression, sadness, the feeling of being in a rut, disease etc. It is comparable to Eckhart Tolle’s “pain-body” or blockages in the chakra system in Ayervedic medicine. Kambo helps to reset the energetic body, clearing any blockages.

Anastasi, A., Bertaccini, G., Erspamer, V. (1966). PHARMACOLOGICAL DATA ON PHYLLOKININ (BRADYKINYL-ISOLEUCYL-TYROSINE O-SULPHATE) AND BRADYKINYL-ISOLEUCYL-TYROSINE. British Journal of Pharmacology and Chemotherapy, 27, 479-485.

Amiche, M., Ladram, A., Nicolas, P. (2008). A consistent nomenclature of antimicrobial peptides isolated from frogs of the subfamily Phyllomedusinae. Peptides, 29(11), 2074-82.

Amiche, M., Seon, A. A., Wroblewski, H., Nicolas, P. (2000). Isolation of dermatoxin from frog skin, an antibacterial peptide encoded by a novel member of the dermaseptin genes family. European Journal of Biochemistry, 267(14), 4583-92.

Carman, A. J., Mills, J. H., Krenz, A., Kim, D., Bynoe, M. S. (2011). Adenosine receptor signaling modulates permeability of the blood-brain barrier. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(37), 13272-13280.

Daly, M. (2016). The Brits Using Amazonian Frog Poison to Fight Depression and Alcohol Abuse. Vice

IAKP. Kambo Q & A.

Thoricatha, W. (2017). Way of the Frog Medicine: Interview with Master Kambo Practitioner Simon Scott. Psychedelic Times.

Phoenix Rising. From Bedbound to Fit and Able in 14 Days: Effects of the Amazonian Medicine Kambo on a CFS Patient.

Shivani Fox. (2011). Kambo – Frog Medicine from the Amazon.

Sumpter, L. (2015). Kambô: Nature’s Vaccine For The Mind And Body. Reset.me.