People come to Kambo for a variety of reasons. Whether physical, mental, or spiritual they come seeking what Kambo can provide. So, what are the benefits of Kambo?

There are a variety of benefits attributed to Kambo that fall into 3 areas: physical and medical benefits, mental benefits, and spiritual benefits. It is used by the indigenous tribes in which it was discovered to increase physical and mental prowess prior to a hunt, and to purge ‘Panema’ or negative energy that may collect within a person and manifest as lethargy, depression, and otherwise low mood. More recent scientific studies have shed light on the biochemical effects of the compounds and peptides found in Kambo, and their promising potential applications in modern medicine.

Scientific studies of Kambo have isolated a number of biochemical components, primarily peptides, that have been found to have a variety of effects within the human body that have potential for use in medical and pharmacological interventions.

Some of the potential effects of these compounds include:

  • Improved mood and reduced anxiety - possibly from the interactions that lead to reductions in the main stress hormone, cortisol, within the bloodstream.
  • Pain relief - certain elements have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the inflammation associated with some type of pain, as well as other compounds that have some opioid-like effects, and that can also cross blood-brain barrier, causing pain blocking effects within the brain itself.
  • Anti-cancer properties - an indirect result of the action of some compounds leads to reduced blood vessel growth, which is a property used in a number of treatments that can help to restrict tumour growth in cancers with targeted delivery.
  • Treatment of addiction - helping to reset certain chemical pathways in the brain that are fouled by addiction. Some of the peptides are opioid-receptor binding, meaning that they bind to the receptors in the brain that opiates normally bind to. This could help those with opiate addiction by helping to normalise brain hormonal responses without the need for opiate ingestion.
  • Lowered blood pressure - many of the peptides have vaso-dilatory effects, meaning that they widen blood vessels. This allows more room for blood to flow and so contributes to lower blood pressure. Indeed, these are what cause some of the light-headedness and dizziness that can be felt when taking Kambo.
  • Heart protective properties - in addition, this widening of blood vessels can increase blood flow to the heart. Along with some of the other effects on smooth muscle, this has the potential to aid heart health.
  • Anti-microbial properties - many of the compounds have effects to fight against fungal and bacterial infections. Actually, this is one of the reasons why the frog from which Kambo is harvested secretes this substance in the first place - to help protect its skin from fungal and bacterial infection, which are a particular menace to amphibians.

The tribes who first discovered Kambo use it for a variety of beneficial purposes, not all of which have been confirmed by Western science, but its persistence in tribal culture points to their strong belief in its use and results. Many of these uses are related to their success in hunting - very important to those people descended from traditional hunter-gatherers, and who use low-intensity farming techniques. 

Traditional uses of Kambo include:

  • Removal of negative energies - known as ‘Panema’ which is an Arawak word used to describe a cloud of negative energy that grows over time. Like an aura around a person. They believe this to cause depression, lethargy, laziness and otherwise bad things to happen to an individual. The purging associated with Kambo is mainly the purging of this bad energy to be renewed and refreshed.
  • Bring luck - to generally increase the participants luck, in both the hunt, and in life.
  • Heighten senses prior to a hunt - to achieve greater sharpness of vision, improved hearing, and greater mental acuity. All important attributes for a successful hunt.
  • Increase endurance and strength prior to a hunt - to be better able to perform when the moment comes and to increase the chances of returning home with food for the tribe.
  • Reduce need for food and water - allowing the hunt to go longer, or travel lighter in pursuit of the hunt. Keeping the hunters mind on the task in hand rather than their hunger or thirst.
  • Minimize human scent - a successful hunt is often reliant upon your prey not knowing you are coming. In the jungle, scent often carries further than either sound or vision, and so can be an important warning to prey that don’t wish to be caught.
  • Purify the mind and spirit - hitting the spiritual reset button. Removing all that is impure and starting anew with a fresh mental slate.
  • Treat illness and physical ailments - access to medicine in remote rainforest areas is often difficult. Kambo is amongst a number of traditional cures for a variety of maladies.
  • Treatment of malaria and snake bites - common problems in the jungle, and ones that benefit from the purging of toxins that Kambo provides.
  • Encourage fertility - if fertility can be impacted by bad energy then a purge and a purification can only help those who wish to conceive a child.

Those of us in the Western world that seek out Kambo do so for a variety of reasons, although not often related to hunting. Our search is usually more for the spiritual and mental aspects that Kambo provides. It’s great to hear stories from participants at our ceremonies about what Kambo has provided to them, and there’s been a great range of results we’ve heard about:

  • Increased strength and physical endurance - those of us that enjoy the call of the gym, as well as the call of Kambo can often attest that some of our best sessions come in the days after a Kambo ceremony. The weights feel a little lighter and the grind a little easier.
  • Heightened senses - vision, hearing, smell, touch. Often people report and extra sharpness to the senses, ‘like the world has been turned up to 11’
  • Mental clarity - sometimes it feels like thinking can come easier. There’s less chatter and thoughts whirling around in your brain. You are generally less in your head.
  • Reduced stress - whether it’s the reduction in cortisol, or the shared bond formed from practising Kambo amongst others, stress and problems can seem diminished and much further away than in the past.
  • Sense of calm - the calm that descends after the purge in Kambo can last a number of days after the event. Everything seems just that little bit quieter.
  • Increased compassion and courage - you may find yourself reacting a little differently to things that come up in your life. Where there was previously annoyance, maybe some extra empathy. Where you shied away, maybe you step up that little bit more.
  • Reduced frustration, anger and anxiety - emotions that don’t serve you can be lessened. Whether as a result of your increased sense of calm, or from some realization that you found through Kambo.

Kambo can be beneficial in a variety of ways - and increasingly so as more discoveries are made about its biochemical and medicinal properties. The only way to truly discover how Kambo can be beneficial to you is to try it - in a safe setting, with supportive fellow participants, and an experienced, well regarded practitioner.

Kambo is frequently offered alongside ayahuascaibogaine5-MeO-DMT, and other plant medicines for holistic treatment. According to practitioners, the skin secretions “resets” the body, not only by strengthening the immune system but also through distinct psycho-spiritual benefits.

Panema—an Arawak term used by the Ashaninka and others—describes a negative energy that gathers over time.Traditionally visualized as a kind of dense grey cloud or aura, panema is blamed for bad luck, depression, laziness, irritation, and other adverse states. Naturally, clearing this cloud is vital for indigenous groups that depend on hunting and community coherence. For many, kambo serves this purpose.

Outside of traditional contexts, the dissipation of panema is framed in terms of “clearing the pain body,” “realigning the chakras,” or reorganizing personal psychology. The purge itself may be felt as an expulsion of bad thoughts, habits, negative personality traits, or persistent life problems.

A profoundly transformational tool, kambo medicine is known to increase compassion, courage, emotional stability, and personal sovereignty. Some users feel more “real” or “solid” after kambo application—less in their heads and more in their bodies. Frustration, anger, and anxiety also tend to reduce or dissipate entirely. These positive changes may last several days or several months, depending on the application and the person receiving it.

One of kambo’s most exciting potential medical applications is the treatment of cancer. Dermaseptin B2 has been shown to inhibit cancer cell (human prostatic adenocarcinoma) growth by more than 90%. This peptide penetrates cells and works by necrosis (active destruction) and not apoptosis (normal or programmed cell death).

Dermaseptins, including adenoregulin, are powerful antibiotics. Found to be rapidly and irreversibly effective against a range of parasitic microorganisms, they’re also entirely non-toxic to mammalian cells. Combined with their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, peptides in kambo are especially promising for conditions like Cryptococcal meningitis in patients with late-stage HIV.Among the pathogens killed by dermaseptin B2 are the filamentous fungi that opportunistically infect AIDS patients. With the emergence and spread of highly resistant pathogenic bacteria, novel antibiotics such as these are becoming critical.

Since adenoregulin affects the binding of agonists to adenosine receptors—instrumental in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier—it may be useful in the development of treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and strokes.Anecdotal evidence supports kambo’s use in depression treatment, anxiety, and addiction.

There’s also compelling anecdotal evidence for kambo’s effectiveness in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). According to one sufferer, the secretion completely eliminates CFS symptoms when taken regularly.

The deltorphins and dermorphin present in kambo have analgesic effects comparable to the body’s own pain response of beta-endorphin release. They’re also stronger than morphine without the same level of respiratory depression, tolerance potential, and withdrawal symptoms.

Phyllokinin may be useful in the treatment of hypertension, having been shown to lower blood pressure more effectively than other polypeptides.

Other conditions that may benefit from kambo include chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, vascular problems, hepatitis, diabetes, rheumatism, and arthritis.

How to Prepare for a Kambo Ceremony

Preparations are useful for any potentially transformative, substance-induced experience. When taking Kambo, they are necessary. Mostly these preparations relate to the purging and cleansing that occurs during the ceremony.

The cleansing process begins before the actual ceremony. Most Kambo practitioners recommend fasting for 10-12 hours before use. Recreational drugs and alcohol are also prohibited for at least 24 hours prior. Finally, those taking Kambo should aim to drink at least 1-2 liters of water before the ceremony. These steps make the eventual purging easier.