Also known as a frog medicine, kambo is the poisonous secretion of Phyllomedusa bicolor (the giant leaf or monkey frog), a bright green tree frog native to the Amazon basin. It is found in the rainforest regions of northern Brazil, eastern Peru, southeastern Colombia and parts of Venezuela, Bolivia and the Guianas. In many regions outside Brazil, both the frog and its secretion are known as sapo (or 'toad').
Giant monkey frogs have a distinctive 'song' that can be followed to collect them at night. Captured specimens are tied by the legs and harmlessly burdened to induce the secretion: a waxy substance scraped onto wooden spatulas from the back and legs of the frog. Once dried, kambo can be stored for over a year without losing its potency. Before use, it is mixed with saliva or water and applied directly to specially made burns on the skin.
Kambo has a range of traditional and potential therapeutic applications, both medical and psycho-spiritual. Usually described as a 'test drug', the secretion is known for its powerful vomiting or purifying effects. Despite the initial unpleasantness, much is sought for Kambo to revitalize body and mind.
The immediate effects of kambo medications are intense and unpleasant, but short-lived, and usually last no longer than 30-40 minutes. They include feverish temperature rise, sweating, chills, and dizziness as the heart rate gets faster - possibly over 190 beats per minute. Blood pressure can rise or fall dramatically, along with increased awareness of the veins and arteries. Many people report a tingling or burning sensation such as electricity that starts at the tips and spreads through the body. Some may also feel a dissociative or intoxicated high.
Overpowering nausea is generally inevitable with kambo, and purification is likely - either from vomiting, defecation, or both. Other effects include a feeling of pressure in the head, neck and trunk, abdominal pain, inflammation of the throat, dry mouth, blurred vision (or temporary blindness), difficulty moving and numbness, swollen lips and tongue. This is the physical response of the body to acute poisoning.
After these initial effects have worn off and the heart rate has returned to normal, you may need to rest. Some fall into a dreamless sleep, while others make strange animal noises.
Your experience may feel better after the kambo purification. You may feel great physical strength, sharper senses, and increased mental alertness. Such unwanted side effects can take up to a day or they can occur immediately. They also tend to incorporate consistently elevated mood, increased physical and mental energy, reduced stress, and improved focus.
Kambo is best taken on an empty stomach, bladder and intestines. It is advisable to avoid solid food and especially salt 8-10 hours in advance. Alcohol and red meat should also be avoided for 24-48 hours before application.