Kambô Rituals Gaining Popularity in the West

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Kambô Rituals in the West
Source: Jean-Marc Hero
  • Researchers in Berlin questioned almost 400 people on their experiences with Kambô rituals.
  • More than 80% of the participants reported the ritual improved their personal wellbeing.
  • There is currently no scientific evidence for the claimed benefits of Kambô.

Over 20 years ago as the Amazonian Shamans found their way into the USA and Europe, so did their ancient rituals involving herbs, mushrooms, and sometimes animal secretions. Among them is the Kambô, secretion from the Giant Maki Frog. Since ancient times, indigenous communities across the Amazon have conducted Kambô rituals to enhance hunting skills. This healing process would rid hunters of bad luck and depression-like states. Now, the use of this particular slimy substance is gaining popularity among people in the West.

Kambô collection involves carefully tying up the frog and rubbing its skin. As a result of the distress, the frog releases the secretions as part of its defence mechanism. The secretions are collected using a wooden stick. Then, via superficial burns, the frog slime is applied to a person’s arms, legs or chest. Although the secretion does not contain any psychedelics, research says it’s full of opioid peptides and endorphins. As a result, within minutes of the secretion touching their skin, people start to experience projectile vomiting, sweating, diarrhoea, swelling of the face, and increased heart rate. The symptoms usually last an hour; followed by a feeling of intense relief.

These days Kambô practitioners advertise the ritual as a detox, to rid the body of toxins. Additionally, they claim it treats depression, chronic pain, infertility, PTSD, and even cancer.

Kambô Rituals Increase Life Satisfaction

To investigate this ritual further, psychiatrists at Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin questioned 386 participants on their experience with Kambô. As part of the study, the participants filled out an online survey detailing their experience. The psychiatrists published their findings in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

According to the results, the most commonly reported reason for trying out Kambô was general healing. Followed by physical detoxification, spiritual growth, improving overall well-being, and mental/physical cleanse. 87% of the participants attributed an increase in life satisfaction or personal well-being to the ritual. Moreover, 64% claimed that it had spiritual significance in their lives. Although a majority of the participants reported benefits, a few reported long-lasting physical or mental health problems following Kambô.

Despite the claimed benefits, there is currently no scientific evidence for the effects. Therefore, further research is required to determine whether these claims are subjective or not.

Reference:

Majić, Tomislav, et al. “Connected to the Spirit of the Frog: An Internet-Based Survey on Kambô, the Secretion of the Amazonian Giant Maki Frog (Phyllomedusa Bicolor): Motivations for Use, Settings and Subjective Experiences.” Journal of Psychopharmacology, Mar. 2021, doi:10.1177/0269881121991554.

Schmidt, T.T., Reiche, S., Hage, C.L.C. et al. Acute and subacute psychoactive effects of Kambô, the secretion of the Amazonian Giant Maki Frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor): retrospective reports. Sci Rep 10, 21544 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-78527-4

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