The Great Waxy tree frog from the arboreal regions of the upper Amazon seems, at first glance, to have leapt too far when found in the inner cities of Europe and America. Its use has spread widely since the investigative journalist Peter Gorman first brought it to the attention of those outside the Amazon in the 80’s. In its natural habitat, the officially titled Phyllomedusa Bicolor has no predators due to its extraordinarily effective defense mechanism. When threatened or stressed it releases a secretion that acts as a rapid onset, purgative deterrent to its potential enemies. The opportunist snake that fancied frogs’ legs for lunch gets a nasty surprise and the frog leaps clean away.
In its natural habitat, Kambo (or Sapo as it is commonly known) is used by those living in the forest to support their immune systems by eliminating toxins and preventing infectious diseases such as malaria or dengue fever. Different tribes have adapted the use of Kambo for different purposes. For example, it is predominantly used by the Matses to increase hunting prowess. It does this by increasing stamina, reducing the need for food and sleep, and masking human odor to make them less obvious to the forest creatures. At the same time, it heightens the hunter’s perceptive ability to tune into a specific prey. Other tribes utilize the secretion in cases of laziness, bad luck, or what is known as ‘panema’- a sense of being energetically attacked. Kambo healing is known to effectively clear the energetic body of such negative attachments.
One might ask, how does this relate to Kambo today? It seems an unlikely international traveler, until we jump to the meta level. Our planet does not see itself as separate pieces; rather, it is a constantly mutating, interconnected wholeness. This transposition of one culture’s practice to another isn’t new, and has been often proven by archeologists. Customs, medicines and rituals have always crossed continents, carried by the innate human drive to explore beyond our boundaries. Perhaps this cross-pollination of knowledge is more intrinsic to our survival as a species than we have previously understood. Is it ultimately any different to the behavior of migrating birds and beasts across vast acreages? Where it goes wrong is when humans turn to conquering rather than sharing.