I let a stranger burn me 12 times and then put extract from an Amazonian frog on the wounds…before purging for what felt like hours. In the middle of a launch…
Ever heard of Kambo? Most people haven’t, and most that have are skeptical/full of derision and think it’s woo woo nonsense. If you’re one of them, you should probably stop reading now. But if you’re even the least bit curious about plant medicine, or why someone would voluntarily pay money to have this done to them, read on.
What Kambo is not
First off, what Kambo is not. It is not some hippy dippy new New Age practice. Kambo’s been around for centuries, if not longer. It’s been revered in the Amazon for ages.
Second, Kambo is not a psychedelic or hallucinogen. I’ve never had the slightest interest in drugs (my mind is a chaotic enough place as it is sometimes 😅), have never so much as smoked a cigarette. As opposed to something like ayahuasca which I’m looking forward to doing next year (it’s illegal in the U.S. but you can do it in Costa Rica, Peru, etc.), which absolutely can cause hallucinations, Kambo is a peptide. It is not a psychedelic (although the pain was so bad during the purge I wished I could have been transported mentally somewhere else 😅). Also, I’m talking about hallucinogens and psychedelics as if they are different things. Are they? Who knows. I don’t know anything about them really except what I’ve seen on “Intervention” and heard from an ex who did LSD once. 🤔😆 So if I’m conflating the two, apologies. Hopefully you get the point I’m trying to make.
Why would anyone want to do this?
I’ll do a post on my health journey later, but basically, I was miserable. My depression, which had been so well-managed since law school that I didn’t even think about it except for a couple times a year, came back with a vengeance. My gut was so bad I reacted any time I deviated from 5 “safe foods” and was puffy, inflamed, and in pain all the time, no matter what I did or didn’t do. I was working way too much. My hair was coming out in chunks. The life I gave up everything for (my law firm job, my beautiful house in Charleston, 95% of my stuff, stability and security) in order to be free, unencumbered, living abroad…felt like a pipe dream. I’d had a taste of it in 2020, but for various reasons in 2021, I couldn’t move long term. I felt stuck and trapped literally and figuratively, yet I was “doing the work,” examining and tackling every limiting belief. Working with a coach and taking 2 courses, i.e. investing over and over again. Journaling. Meditating. Exercising like a fiend (my stress relief). Treating my personal development like a DIY project. My huge vision for my life and my businesses that felt so real seemed more than a quantum leap away. It’s not that I didn’t feel like I would get there, more like things weren’t happening fast enough. Definitely didn’t feel like moving in concert with the universe, more like forcing against. At my core, I’m not a depressed, anxious, untrusting person. I’m happy, free, curious, intense, passionate, in love with the excitement of life and trying new things. I desperately wanted to feel better. To be better. To not be back to my “old self,” but to embody my highest self, the self that I’d been working so hard to discover. I have shit to do, to accomplish, and I was over all of it.
I went down a rabbit hole one night on IG and saw something about Kambo. I’d never heard of it before, and I felt an intuitive hit reading about it. I thought about it for weeks afterwards, and did some research to see if there were any practitioners in the U.S. There were several in Asheville. I love western NC and Asheville’s less than 6 hours from where I was staying in VA. For whatever reason, it felt like something I needed to do sooner rather than later, and definitely before I left the U.S. again in December (writing this from the Dominican Republic). I reached out to a practitioner in Asheville and she was absolutely lovely. Thorough as far as pre-Kambo medical intake to make sure I didn’t have contraindications. We talked through some of the things I was experiencing and whether Kambo would be a good fit. She’d has tremendous success treating depression and anxiety in herself and other clients, as well as remarkable improvements in other issues like gut problems (I’m firmly convinced that my depression is due in large part to my gut…most of our neurotransmitters are manufactured there after all). I booked for the following week.
You need an empty stomach for Kambo, so I fasted for 12 hours before my first session in late afternoon. I meditated the morning of as per usual, and set an intention for how I wanted the ceremony to go and the benefits I hoped to achieve.
My practitioner arrived with a yoga mat, a huge bucket which felt really ominous 😅, some sage, music, some crystals, and some other things I couldn’t identify. I was nervous, but okay. I was excited, too. Maybe this would be the breakthrough, the reset I needed.
My practitioner, who I will call “A” because it’s easier, was lovely. I felt an instant kinship with her. I connected with her on a level I haven’t with anyone in a long time. We were on the same wavelength as far as what we thought was actually going on in the world and what was to come. We came from completely different worlds, but it felt like I’d know her forever. We talked for hours before we even got started with Kambo. I told her everything that was going on. I told her things I’ve never told anyone. Just being able to speak so freely and openly without judgment was cathartic.
She rolled out the yoga mat and set up the bucket and music, explaining what would happen at each stage. She saged the area (Chase did not like the sage, but interestingly, she was completely fine the entire time, even when I was so sick. Dogs are so intuitive like that. And she loved A from minute 1).
At the same time, I had to drink a jar of this yucca concoction, basically, so I had something to throw up when I started purging. It wasn’t terrible, but I was definitely nauseous by the end of it.
I can’t remember if A burned the gateways before the sananga drops or vice versa so I’ll start with the sananga drops. I laid down on the mat and she put the drops in the corners of my eyes. Like Kambo, sananga is from the Amazon. Purported benefits of sananga are both physical and spiritual. For my purposes, we were using sananga to help open the pineal gland and remove negative energies. Stop scoffing, it helps 😆 The drops burned like crazy, and we started with “mild,” and saved “full strength” for Day 2. The burning was intense but faded after a few minutes.
Next was the opening of the gateways. The position of the gateways, at least with A, is based on the chakras. On Day 1, I had 5 gateways burned on my right leg. On Day 2, I had 7 burned on my back. Check out my incredible tan in the very flattering pics below. The gateways are small, but it wasn’t an enjoyable sensation, I’ll just say that. Then A wiped the gateways to get ready for the Kambo. They may leave v. tiny scars (prob. less visible on a skin tone like mine).
Without getting too into the weeds on this, like I said, Kambo is taken from Amazonian frogs. A told me where she sourced hers from, but I forgot. She’s a huge animal lover like I am, so it was imperative to her that she ensured the Kambo was harvested in a sustainable way that didn’t harm the frogs. A scraped a little Kambo off a stick and then placed little balls of it on each of the gateways, which stung a little. The gateways allow the Kambo peptides to enter into the bloodstream immediately.
At this point, I’m sitting up on the yoga mat, bucket in hand. I didn’t really feel anything except for the stinging from the gateways and nausea from the concoction (my stomach is turning as I’m typing this thinking about it). But within 2 minutes, my skin started to feel really hot. I had kind of a rash on my legs and my arms. My arms felt extremely heavy and achy. And then I started purging. I won’t go into detail on this, but it wasn’t pleasant. I don’t know how long I purged for, but was lucid enough during to say to myself “WTF are you doing to yourself?” After, I was so exhausted I couldn’t do much except lay on the couch. By this time, I think it was 8 pm so I forced myself to eat something and go to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up to no stomach pain for the first time in years. Bloating was gone. I could see defined stomach muscles (vain, yes, but was happy to see they were actually there, that they’d just been buried under inflammation so long). A came back. Apparently, Day 1 was just entry level. Day 2 is where the real healing happens, which means that it’s much more intense. Day 1 was hardly enjoyable so I was nervous.
Same process as Day 1 except this time, A burned 7 gateways on my back. My reaction was much more intense and immediate. My face felt like it was on fire. My arms were again heavy and really achy. And I started purging almost immediately. I’ll spare you details, but at one point, I was in the bathroom while my head, neck and shoulders were entirely in the bucket. I have a high pain threshold but the pain in my stomach was unbearable. I had stomach cramps that felt like every pain I’d ever had in my life multiplied to the umpteenth degree. I couldn’t talk but mumbled to A to please take the Kambo off, that I couldn’t handle any more. I wanted to die. I don’t know how long it lasted, but it was absolutely miserable. Later, A told me that one of her friends who had to clear the same issues/had the same stomach pain said it was worse than childbirth. Obviously never experienced that so wouldn’t want to ever speculate. Just saying it to give you an idea that the pain was next level. The whole time, A was chanting and singing and thanking kambo. Apparently, this was all an incredibly good thing. I was purging so many things, clearing out so many toxins. Parts of myself were dying to be reborn. It definitely felt like something was dying!
I’m not sure how long that went on, but after, I was basically incapacitated on the couch for the rest of the night.
I slept soundly and went on a short hike with Chase the next day. Gradually, throughout the day, this rage and irritation built up inside me. I was beyond pissed at everyone and everything. I texted A and she said that was normal.
Would I do Kambo again? Maybe. I honestly think my experience as far as pain wouldn’t be as bad the next go round because 1. I know what to expect and 2. I cleared a lot of toxins this time and my gut won’t be as bad. I will be tapering off my Wellbutrin over the next 6 months to a year, so I will think seriously about doing Kambo again to help heal the damage being on an SSRI for 15 years has undoubtedly done. I also think I’ll have even better results when I’m completely off the WB.
Do I think it helped? Yes, but not necessarily how I expected it to. I do think it helped my gut. I’ve been able to eat more foods without issue. I did immediately try to eat fermented foods thinking I was “healed” and ready for prebiotics (which I couldn’t eat for years because of SIBO), and that was a terrible idea. Easing back into eating more of a variety of foods.
It also seems to have completely alleviated the PMDD I’d been mysteriously having since I got back to the U.S. in Jan.
I also think it really helped with clarity of purpose and path. Not so much in showing me the way, but showing me what isn’t the way. And certain things I’ve been doing that basically my soul is rejecting. I knew I’d be evolving this business, but it needs to be sooner rather than later. I also think it helped me with trust. Trust in God/universe/whatever you believe in. I felt less like the world was on my shoulders and I had to do everything on my own.
It’s been less than a month so probably too soon to determine long term benefits, as well.
Would I recommend it? I’d recommend you look into it with an open mind remembering news sources are rarely completely objective when it comes to alternative practices and see how you feel. They say Kambo calls you, and not to sound like an absolute nutter, but I absolutely felt called to do it.
Drop me a line if you have any questions! 🐸