Kambo: My Experience with Amazonian Tree Frog Medicine
From Thanksgiving 2018 to the New Year of 2019 I had been experiencing deep physical pain, non-stop, that made walking very difficult and sitting impossible. It completely changed my mental and spiritual state and brought me to a state of depression I haven’t felt in my life to date. Before it became my most profound guru (guru: an influential adviser or mentor) it was the scariest life-monster I’ve faced down.
After about three weeks of healing with whole foods, acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and self led physical therapy, I knew a major reset and deep deep cleanse was exactly what I needed. When you physically heal, you have the opportunity to be conscious of the mental and spiritual healing that occurs at the same time. A lot of stuck emotions, inner baggage and ways of thinking I’d outgrown came up to the surface while I was using all my energy to get well. I wanted a space to truly release them. I wanted to flush my body of old crap. A clean, new start. I knew Kambo was exactly what I needed.
Kambo is a secretion from an Amazonian tree frog. When a human ingests the medicine it does not produce any psychoactive effects (i.e. you don’t go on a trip or get high). It’s legal in the US and groups like IAKP help facilitate the safe and sustainable use of Kambo and the tribes that protect and care for the medicine and its environment.
This secretion enters through your skin/lymphatic system, scans your body for any impurities both physical (inflammation, viruses, bad bacteria, waste) and emotional (past hurts and trauma carried in the body) and pushes them out of you in the form of vomit, internal heat and more. I wish I could say this relatively short medicinal process was painless. It is unbelievably intense and downright uncomfortable. And I did it THREE DAYS in a row! The pain of the Kambo treatment was nowhere near the current pain in my body though and months later it stands as one of the most healing experiences I’ve ever had.
Day 1: Ignorance is bliss, Game On!
I was more relieved than nervous when I showed up to my practitioners, Keidren Davis, home for my Kambo treatment. I felt nothing could be as bad as the pain I’d had over the last few weeks. It was just I, Keidren and another woman whom I met that day in ceremony. We opened with a period of q&a and a reassuring review of the process. We had a meditation, a prayer of gratitude for the medicine and the tribes who protect it and then we began. Our guide put drops of Sananga in our eyes that burned so bad for about a minute and then dropped off back to normal over 5 minutes or so. Sananga has powerful healing properties of its own but in this case it was given to calm and ground us. Next Keidren “burned our gates” aka, used a special incense stick to make 4 very light burns on the skin of our ankle. This didn’t really hurt. The 4 exposed dots of skin were where the yellowish sticky small balls of frog secretion was placed. This method of taking the medicine ensures that it reaches your lymphatic system (aka your cleansing system). After that I had to drink two liters of water in around 10 minutes. That may have been the hardest part, it made me so nauseous! Kambo uses water as a vehicle to expel waste and emotional trash. Within about 5 minutes after being placed I felt the medicine of the Kambo going to work
I felt flushed in my neck and back, real heat from within. I could feel my pulse quicken. I thought, man, this isn’t so bad. And then BOOM!!! All of sudden it was like 100’s of volts of electricity were coursing through my veins. I was instantly dizzy and nauseous. I felt my intestines and abdomen start to grind, twist and throb like never before. I didn’t even know where to put my focus because I felt sensation through my whole body.
As a meditation teacher, I help people learn to use their breath to get through moments like this. Let me tell you, Breath was the laaaast think I was thinking about!
I moaned in what felt like another release. I threw up what looked like double the water I drank and every purge radiated the feelings in my body tenfold. After a few more purges of water I had light yellow and then darker yellow bile come up. I couldn't wait for this pain to be over but I was glad I was purging something out. When the last wave of intensity had subsided for a few minutes Keidren wiped off the medicine which causes the sensation to quickly recede. I felt the urge to “downward” purge and Keidren lovingly helped me to the bathroom with my bucket nearby as I was still nauseous. I did purge a bit in the bathroom (aka poop!).
Upon returning to my pillowed treatment area I felt dizzy and weak but somehow, emptied in a good way, lighter. I just wanted to lay down and let the last feelings of the Kambo subside. Our guide made us tea and apples with cinnamon and let us rest. I felt so proud that I survived my first treatment but I had a deep sense that I had only scratched the surface and there was more to push out.
That evening I took a super deep nap. I had little to no hunger and my leg still hurt, I felt unsettled and unsure. Far from the angelically calm, and incredible feelings people report after their first treatment. I had no real insights but I did build a very strong resolve to sit in my second ceremony with a true grace and strength. I wanted to feel like I allowed the medicine to do super deep work. I wanted to bravely surrender myself (whatever the heck that meant in the moment!)
Day 2: The Power of The Feminine, Grace & Courage
I was able to drink my water much easier on Day 2, maybe because I had already wrapped my mind around the pain and was ready for business. I was determined to sit up straight, in my power as Keidren opened 6 gates on my ankle this time. As I felt the medicine come on I thanked it for cleansing me and helping me reset. I purged out massive amounts of water but then purged bile many many times. A True Barf Rodeo. I could really feel it come up easily and every time I purged I sat right back up with a weak smile on my face accepting more, surrendering and doing my best to let it do it’s work. My experience with Ayahuasca was that a spirit was there with me the whole time, guiding me. Kambo felt like little entities were just going about their work in whatever capacity I was able to allow, not unfeeling, just all business, cleaning and eliminating that which I was ready to release. After a huge wave of cleaning, my guide was about to take the medicine off but my spirit guides/ancestors said, “Hold Up, you got a lil’ bit more”. I felt the urge to sway and sing. I felt so acceptant of the medicine. I felt strong. After a few minutes I sensed that I should twist to the right, I let out a sob and cried for a bit. It was a beautiful release of energy and felt amazing. Crying is a WONDERFUL way to cleanse am I right? Then I felt like I should twist to the left. It was way harder, it almost felt blocked. This was the side I was experiencing deep pain. The more I turned, the more the intensity went up. Soon a major purge came up. Holy…. NOW I felt ready to have the medicine off. What a ceremony! The entire time super strong winds had been blowing outside and it felt like it had this purifying effect on our ceremony.
That night I felt so satisfied, peaceful, clear and happy. My skin looked like it was positively glowing, I looked different! I felt really beautiful and grateful to have had another chance with the medicine. I felt pretty confident about the next day and hoped to have another deep purge.
Day 3: Holding Space for the Masculine
I went into Day Three with bravado, feeling like a champ after my last ceremony. I was going to get the last of the waste from inside of me. Yea, no. Literally every part of this ceremony felt harder than the last. The sananga drops in my eyes seem to burn deeper, the water made me more nauseous . This day we chose points that corresponded with the Chakras and Keidren opened these gates on our back. I yelped each time a gate was opened which I hadn’t done before, the back is way more sensitive than the ankle. When the medicine was applied it stung more than the other times and I felt the medicine come on almost instantly. Man, I just didn’t feel prepared for the medicine.I had less intense sensation in my abdomen and reproductive area and more of an overall feeling that the medicine was coming at me from all sides, like a swarm of bees. I felt dizzy, disoriented and ungrounded. I purged all the water and the bile started to come. I was trying to sit up and ground in the medicine, take it gracefully, but I just couldn't bear the pain in my leg and felt so weak.
After a particularly big purge I let out a huge “FUCK!” I begged to lay down after a big wave passed, I felt so spent. I went on my hands and needs to help the purge come when it felt trapped, I shoved my fingers down my throat trying to force it out, this was no graceful session.
A few times I threw a crying tantrum, I was pissed at the pain, both wanting it to stop and knowing I needed it. After a crawl to the bathroom I had a downward purge and then one last huge upward purge. When I looked in the mirror my eyes were bright red and I look unsettled. When I laid down Keidren took the medicine off my back and it stung, I still felt the medicine work as I tried to settle in and rest.
As I drove home that day I could barely believe I had just finished three days. I felt so proud and accomplished until my sciatic pain began to intesify. This is what I feared, that I’d go through the treatment and still be in deep pain. Just then an infamous Olympic Peninsula floating bridge opening happened and I was stuck in my car for an extra hour on the 30 minute drive home. Great. My car had become a torture chamber for me over the weeks I was healing, turning any progress in my condition to nothing in minutes. I cried out in heaving sobs, a deep deep anger welled up and out of me. For the first time in my life I just wanted to die rather than live a life with that much pain and fear. I didn’t realize it but I had made Kambo my “last resort”. It’s a pretty huge moment when you feel the edges of your shadow side, the sides we try to hide which live in us all. Internally, I was presented with a choice. To choose death, which I saw as letting the pain be a monster that ruled my life, or to choose life, as painful as it might be. As I carefully considered my choice, a well spring of gratitude for my spirit, family, partner, path and more just bubbled up. This monster of pain actually had me thinking I had nothing to live for but comfort. I chose right then and there to slay the monster of dark thought that would have had me choose misery, that was trying to get me to give up. The Kambo was still at work, hours after the medicine was applied to my back. Another monster within had come up and out to be identified and processed away.
I went home after the third night kind of wishing I could have switched my 2nd and 3rd treatment to end on a beautiful note. This kind of speaks to the human feeling that healing should look bright, shiny and airy like an angel. Turns out my most powerful healing moment felt ugly, hopeless and dark as hell. In that moment I got to choose my life over death, to declare I wanted to live and live well in strength and gratitude. As the days passed I felt a major surge in my energy levels, my inner well being, my positivity, my ability to feel satiated and choose healthy foods. My skin glowed and the pain in my leg slowly diminished over the next few weeks (with help from holistic medicine and whole foods). I felt my range of motion come back in a deeper than I’d ever known. I would wake up at 3 AM every night with deep deep insight about life and my health. I felt fearless in writing and creating. This might be my biggest gift, that I’m not afraid to be seen and heard, I'm not afraid to share my life (I fought hard for it after all!). I don’t know if I would have felt so strongly about living my life if I hadn’t been presented with a big opportunity to seize it back. In this way, the pain became my teacher and coach.
I can highly recommend Kambo to anyone looking for a reset, a fresh new beginning. This medicine cleared me of all thought patterns that said I was worthless and and brought me back into balance. It restored my capacity to meditate and most beautifully, Kambo strengthened the connection and communication between the mind, body and spirit so that it could balance itself, naturally. The lifelong journey in balance just got a little easier ya’ll!