The Seeker’s Guide to Kambô

The Ultimate Guide to Kambô

Kampo, Sapo, frog medicine

Phyllomedusa bicolor secretes a unique venom that has been used for centuries as a medicine by South American indigenous groups. The beautiful Amazonian frogs are captured, the kambô venom is scraped from their backs, and they are released back into the wild. 

Applying kambô to small burns on the skin produces an unpleasant and unusual effect – mostly involving extreme nausea, dissociation, and discomfort. It is used traditionally as a treatment for various illnesses, and has antibiotic and antiparasitic properties.

Kambô is a relatively risky substance, and is arguably not a psychedelic. But it is a natural medicine with a long history of traditional use, and has an important chapter in the history of natural psychoactive substances.

This guide is intended for those who would like to experience kambô in a safe setting. It should be used for harm reduction and education purposes only.


Who This Guide Is For

The Ultimate Guide to Kambô: A Seeker’s Companion was created for everyone who is interested in kambô. This could be anyone from the complete psychedelic novice to the experienced kambô facilitator.

This guide contains information about how to use kambô safely, and how to find a safe and responsible retreat. It also contains resources for preparing for an intense psychedelic experience, advice for facilitators, and information about integrating a kambô ceremony into your everyday life.

How To Use This Guide

This guide is divided into two parts:

  1. Kambô 101. This first section covers important background information about kambô and its history, so that you, the seeker, have the cultural and scientific context about kambô that is needed to truly appreciate its uses.

  2. How to do Kambô. The second section covers practical information about what to expect from a kambô experience. You will find an overview of some of the safety concerns and risks related to kambô, as well as strategies to reduce the potential for harm. You will also learn about how to find a safe kambô retreat center or facilitator.

We believe that, although kambô is an unusual and risky medicine that may not be ideal for most psychedelic seekers, those who decide to take it should be fully informed about the methods that can minimize risk and maximize its healing potential.

We hope that this guide will empower you to make the best, and safest, decision about your own journey.

This guide was created as a labor of love, from the depths of our hearts to you.

With So Much Love,
Lorna Liana & the EntheoNation Team

Part 1:
Kambô 101

Kambô, also known as sapo, is the name for the secretion of the large, bright-green tree frog Phyllomedusa bicolor. This frog (also known as the giant leaf frog, or giant monkey frog) is native to the Amazonian rainforests, and is found in parts of Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, and Bolivia.

The venom is collected from Phyllomedusa bicolor by tying the frog down, stimulating it with sharp twigs so it secretes the venom from its back, then releasing it back into the wild.

Kambô is used by many indigenous peoples as a medicine and purgative. Kambô ceremonies involve applying the secretion directly to fresh burn wounds, allowing the compound to quickly enter the bloodstream. It causes nausea, vomiting, and defecation, and also has some psychoactive effects including dysphoria, confusion, and delirium.

Due to the presence of many toxins in kambô, regular use of the secretion is not recommended, and some deaths have been reported due to poor facilitation. Kambô dramatically raises heart rate and can significantly alter blood pressure, making it a potentially dangerous medicine for those with vascular conditions. As well as deaths from heart attack, fatalities have been reported due to hyponatremia: an imbalance in sodium levels caused by drinking too much water during and after the ceremony. Pregnant people should never take kambô: it has abortive properties.

Although Western psychonauts have limited interest in kambô, its psychoactive effects can certainly be explored for spiritual development, and some ayahuasca practitioners use kambô on their guests in the days leading up to the ceremony due to its purgative effects.

The History of Kambô

Kambô is named after an ancestral shaman known as Kampu, who was a member of the Kaxinawá tribe of Peru and Brazil. [1] According to legend, Kampu was in despair due to the widespread illness in his tribe, and went into the jungle to search for a solution. There, he found the tree frog, and he brought its venom back to his people to heal them.

Although we can’t be certain how far back kambô use goes in human history, it’s possible that it was used in Mayan times, considering they had a strong tradition of entheogenic practices, and some Mayan art depicts tree frogs. [2]

Indigenous peoples in South America have used kambô for centuries, most prevalently the Asháninka, Yaminawá, Matsés and Katukina groups. The Phyllomedusa bicolor frog lives in rainforests in parts of Peru, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia and Bolivia, and is used by untold numbers of people throughout these countries.

Traditionally, kambô is used as a treatment for a number of conditions, to “strengthen the body’s natural defenses” and to exorcize negative energies known as panema. It is also reported to boost hunting skills, by improving the senses and making the scent of the hunter less noticeable to prey. [3] There are also reports of people using kambô for divination, such as finding out the father of a baby – or even for shamanic shapeshifting, for the purpose of luring animals into traps. [4]

Kambô was introduced to the Global North first in the 1920s, when French missionary Constantin Tastevin observed its use among the Kaxinawá. [5] In the 1980s, kambô was identified by biochemists for the first time, [6] and its popularity started to grow among Western entheogenic enthusiasts.

In a response to a request from the Katukina to protect the cultural roots of the kambô medicine, the Brazilian government prohibited advertising of the benefits of kambô in 2004. [23] This would theoretically allow for a select, government-approved group of Brazilian scientists to research its benefits, and prevent other nations from patenting kambô and profiting off their cultural heritage. [7]

Kambô is legal everywhere in the world, except for the UK, where it technically falls under the Psychoactive Substances Act. In Brazil it is illegal to advertise its medicinal effects, and its use by outsiders is condemned by the government. [3]

The Pharmacology of Kambô

Phyllomedusa bicolor venom contains a large number of peptides, many of them toxic. Peptides are chains of amino acids, and the ones found in kambô are fairly large; although they are smaller than proteins.

Some of the most prevalent and important peptides in kambô are phyllokinin, phyllomedusin, phyllocaerulein, and sauvagine. These peptides have effects on the stomach, the cardiovascular system, blood pressure, and hormone levels. [8]

Psychedelic tree frog

Artist credit: Rachel Rosenkoetter

The kambô peptides phyllocaerulein and phyllomedusin both affect the stomach, by increasing bile production and causing vomiting and defecation. Phyllomedusin also decreases blood pressure, while phyllocaerulein has some painkilling effects, in addition to their gastric properties. [6]

The peptides sauvigine and phillokinin affect the cardiovascular system, increasing the heart rate and blood flow, and causing a drop in blood pressure. Sauvignine also increases some hormone levels, such as adrenaline. [6]

In addition to these main peptides, some components of kambô have antibiotic properties. Peptides in the dermaseptin family, even in small quantities, can effectively kill harmful bacteria, suggesting that this is part of the medicinal value of kambô. [8]

As well as these non-toxic peptides, there are also toxins present in the kambô secretion that probably have damaging effects on the kidneys, pancreas, and liver; so frequent use is not recommended. [9]

The active dose of kambô is hard to define precisely. Typically, a low dose is an application of the venom on 1-3 small circular burn marks on the skin (dots), and anything greater than 4 dots is considered a high dose. Anthropologist Peter Gorman states that above 5 dots, people are highly likely to lose consciousness very quickly. [4]

The effects of the venom begin after only a few seconds or minutes, and can last up to an hour. Washing the venom from the burn wounds can help to stop the effects – and leaving the venom on the wounds will prolong the experience. [3]

The pharmacology of kambô presents unique risks; since it increases heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and induces intense nausea (as well as having liver toxicity), a large number of medical conditions would preclude you from taking kambô. Additionally, any medication that significantly affects the heart, blood pressure, liver, kidneys, pancreas, immune system or hormone levels should not be mixed with kambô. 

Kambô alters the sodium balance in your body, and drinking too much water during and after the ceremony can lead to hyponatremia (a potentially fatal condition). 

Kambô is an abortive, so pregnant people should not take it unless they are looking for a painful and unpleasant termination of pregnancy. [4]

There is a large catalogue of injury and death resulting from kambô usage, [3] and this is not a substance to take lightly. See our section on the risks of kambô to understand how to minimize them.

Healing with Kambô

Although kambô has been used for centuries as a medicine, its healing effects have not been conclusively shown within Western medicine. However, the antibiotic effects of some components of the venom, alongside the purgative effects (which have been shown to have antiparasitic benefits in other natural plant medicines), likely have protective or healing effects on the body – so long as you aren’t too physically vulnerable to begin with.

Many people describe the kambô experience as being like a “refresh” for the body – and feeling like the shock of the venom has been helpful for their immune system and general vitality. Other anecdotal reports suggest that kambô could be used to treat addiction. [23]

However, since the experience does not produce a typical psychedelic trip, its capacity to heal spiritual or mental issues is probably somewhat limited. Since the healing power of most psychedelics has been linked by research to their capacity to cause a mystical experience, [11][12] kambô may not be ideal for psychonauts searching for spiritual development.

Additionally, those with heart problems, blood pressure problems, liver/kidney problems, anxiety disorders such as PTSD, or those who are pregnant, are at a much greater risk from a kambô experience than others, and would be less likely to encounter healing effects. The kambô trip involves a skyrocketing heart rate, plunging blood pressure, and intense nausea – and that’s in the best case scenario.

Is Kambô Ethical?

Most natural medicines don’t require the potential torturing of animals to obtain. So is it unreasonable for people to search for kambô experiences, if it requires catching a wild animal, stressing it to the point of producing venom, then releasing it – possibly back to somewhere that’s not where you caught it?

The answer to the question of ethics will depend on your personal morality.

Phyllomedusa bicolor is not an endangered species, and keeping them in captivity is not an option as they stop producing the kambô secretion. Therefore it may not necessarily be immoral to harvest the venom from wild frogs, if they are returned to the same area they were found in (it can be disruptive to move them to a new habitat).

However, there’s really no way of knowing how traumatic the harvesting process is to the frogs, and they only release their venom when stressed. We recommend considering other psychedelics that don’t involve the direct distress of living creatures.

It’s also important to consider the impact of kambô tourism or non-indigenous kambô ceremonies on indigenous tribes. Ideally, all kambô use should practice sacred reciprocity, and give back to the communities who own the kambô heritage.

At the very least, users of kambô should think about donating to rainforest conservation and regeneration projects, such as those supported by the International Association of Kambô Practitioners - see our Resources section for more info.

Part 2:

Whatever reason you’ve chosen to explore kambô, it’s important to do so mindfully, safely, and with respect.

The ethics of receiving kambô are there for you to consider—if you are concerned about the well-being of the frogs which provide your medicine, you should look for kambô ceremonies for which the venom was sourced with respect and care.

Additionally, as kambô is not the safest substance, you must ensure that the circle or ceremony you join is facilitated by someone with sufficient knowledge and experience. 

Here are our guidelines for preparing yourself for a meaningful and safe kambô experience.

Boris Quinteros - Taita Kambo

Choosing the Ideal Kambô Retreat

The first thing you must do is decide where and how you’d like to experience kambô medicine. Most indigenous groups that use kambô would recommend seeking out an indigenous practitioner; although the Brazilian government, for one, frowns upon outsiders coming to Brazil to experience kambô.

Although some people choose to take kambô on their own, without a facilitator or sitter, we don’t recommend this path. The kambô experience can be intensely unpleasant, and it’s always best to at least have a sober sitter – and preferably an experienced facilitator.

There are many kambô retreats that offer the opportunity to take kambô in a guided setting. These vary in the amount of luxury they provide. Although retreats can be ideal for beginners, you should consider whether the retreat offers what you’re looking for:

  • Location. Is the retreat easy to get to? Is it a plane journey away, or just a train ride? These are all things to consider, and will mostly depend on personal preference.

  • Mysticism. Some retreats may use mystical or spiritual concepts more than others within the ceremony. If you’d like a more pragmatic or minimalist ceremony, make sure you know what to expect from the setup.

  • The Ceremonial Space. You may prefer the idea of being outside; or maybe a comfy yoga studio would be more your kind of thing.

  • The Practitioners. Would you rather have Western medical professionals running your retreat? Or are you happy with an indigenous practitioner? Maybe you’d prefer a mix of the two.

  • Group Activities. Some retreats require the group to move or chant together, or even undertake group tasks, during the experience. If you’d rather trip without group interactions, make sure to check what the retreat policy is.
  • Amanities. Are there lodgings at the retreat? Do they provide food? Are there luxuries such as workshops or massages on offer? Consider what level of comfort you will require to make the most of the experience.

  • Cost. This will very much be linked to the level of luxury of the retreat. Consider what is within your means, but remember that expert facilitators are not cheap!

  • Restrictions. Some retreats will require you to follow a diet, or practice meditation, before the ceremony. If this isn’t for you, check to make sure what the retreat policy is beforehand. Some retreats require you to pass a medical screening, to check for risky medication interactions or prior health conditions.

  • Purpose. Why are you attending a retreat? If it’s for therapeutic purposes for a serious condition, consider the safety of the retreat. Is there a medic at the retreat? Do they have an emergency plan? Will this retreat center offer you the best chance of finding what you’re looking for?

Once you have settled on the retreat that looks right for you, it’s important to ensure the trustworthiness and safety-consciousness of the retreat and its facilitators.

The effects of kambô can be extremely overpowering, and require the presence of someone who knows how to reassure and look after someone experiencing intense physical discomfort. Make sure your facilitators know what they’re doing.

You should thoroughly research your chosen retreat to make sure they have a good record, and take the safety of their participants seriously:

  • Google the name of the retreat and/or facilitators, in combination with keywords like “fraud,” “scam,” “deaths” or “scandal.” Make sure you look through a few pages, as savvy marketers know how to bury negative search results.

  • Join online forums or Facebook groups and search for mentions of the retreat, with the same negative keywords.
  • Find past participants and ask them what their experience was like. Make sure to ask if they had any concerns, or if there was anything that made them uncomfortable.

  • Check out review sites that rate kambô retreat centers – see our Resources section.

Remember that during a kambô ceremony, a good facilitator should be a purely supportive and passive presence, and should not be interacting with you in any way other than to keep you out of danger.

At a very basic level, your facilitator must ask about your medical history, and be aware of any health conditions that could make kambô especially dangerous for you. They must know the risks, and have a plan for medical emergencies.

Ask your prospective facilitator how they would handle an emergency, and how they screen out unsuitable participants. A facilitator without a screening process or an emergency procedure may not be trustworthy.

Check that your practitioner will be doing a test point on you, will limit your water consumption following the application of kambô, and will monitor you throughout the ceremony. Have a high standard while researching facilitators – there are many out there, and if a practitioner does not fulfil all of these requirements then they don’t deserve to be working with the medicine.

Western or Indigenous Facilitator?

Many Western facilitators seem to have little or no indigenous training, and instead rely on intuition or overconfidence. Even modern qualifications, such as those offered by the IAKP, do not confer trustworthiness with a medicine we know so little about.

This is one reason why it may be preferable to choose an indigenous facilitator. Although they may not have the same perspective of medicine and health, they are likely to understand how to guide people through the kambô experience in some depth, and will probably have a better anticipation of what dose is appropriate for you.

A Western facilitator, while they may lack the wisdom and experience of an indigenous facilitator, may have the benefit of knowing more about contraindicated medications and health conditions.

In the end, a safe facilitator has to be someone who is willing to answer your questions, and who you feel comfortable with. They should take your wellbeing as a priority, and be honest with you about the risks and how they will work to minimize them.

Kambo Shaman

Artist credit: Nicolás Rosenfeld

Learn our in-depth article about How to Select a Safe Kambo Facilitator.

Taking Kambô Outside a Retreat

Retreats aren’t for everyone, and if you’re experienced with psychedelics you might feel you are up to the task of taking kambô on your own.

We recommend always having a sitter with you, and especially so with a potentially dangerous substance like kambô venom.

Ideally, your sitter will be an experienced kambô facilitator, who knows exactly how to guide trippers through intense and challenging experiences, and keep them safe during feelings of physical discomfort. However at the very least your sitter should be sober, and should follow these guidelines:

  • Know the space. Be aware of where the amenities are, and where to go for food, water, and outside assistance. Keep everything comfortable, and make sure the tripper is safe.

  • Know the medicine. Make sure you are aware of the dose of kambô they are taking, how long it will last, and what sort of effects you can expect.

  • Know how to keep the tripper safe. Kambô can have intense effects, and the subject will possibly vomit, defecate, and experience a greatly heightened heart rate. Prepare the environment so that you will be able to accommodate their needs and calm them down if necessary. Do not give them more than two liters of water during or after the ceremony.

  • Know the tripper. Understand why they’re taking kambô, and what they might need from you during the trip. Lay out any specific boundaries either of you might have regarding physical contact.

  • Be a gentle presence. Unless there is a specific need for it, or you have considerable experience, don’t try to guide the tripper in any particular direction. Just be a silent, supportive presence, and simply offer gentle reassurance whenever it is needed. Your main role is to just be there, and keep the tripper safe – not to be a therapist.

Some basic tips for setting up an at-home kambô experienceare:

  • Prepare the space. Make sure you’ll be comfortable, and keep any sharp or dangerous objects out of the space. Make sure no one will interrupt you. If you are tripping outside, make sure it is a familiar place that has no hazards (i.e. deep water, cliffs).

  • Practice fire safety! You will be making a burn, so be careful with open flames. Remember that the burns you make will scar, so be careful choosing where you make them.
  • Follow the usual preparations as if you were attending a retreat. See the section below and prepare yourself to have a meaningful experience.

See our Resources section for training courses that qualify people to administer kambô safely.

Preparing for Kambô

Whether you’re attending a retreat, or tripping in your own home, it’s advisable to do some preparation for the experience.

Although kambô is not a typical psychedelic experience, you can still undertake spiritual preparations such as meditation, yoga, breathwork, journaling, and mindfulness.

Dieting may be a good idea, if you want to complement the purgative properties of the experience. Additionally, it’s traditional to drink large quantities of liquid immediately before a ceremony to aid with the purge – however don’t drink more than a couple of liters during or after the ceremony, as more than that could be dangerous. [13]

Although setting an intention is something that is done for more typical psychedelic experiences, it could be helpful for a kambô experience too. Developing a clear goal for what you are hoping to encounter during your experience will increase the likelihood of taking something positive from it.

The Risks of Kambô

Kambô is not a safe substance. It contains a number of toxins, and its non-toxic components will drastically affect your bodily functions. Several deaths and injuries have been reported following kambô use, [3] so don’t approach this medicine without knowing about the risks.

If you have a heart condition, or difficulties with your blood pressure, avoid kambô. It can raise your heart rate up to 190bpm, and can significantly reduce your blood pressure. Heart or blood pressure medications can be dangerous if combined with kambô.

If you have an anxiety disorder, kambô could induce a panic attack, or make you revisit past trauma. Check with your healthcare provider if unsure.

Pregnant people are at a high risk from the abortive properties of kambô. It is used traditionally to end pregnancies. [4]

According to the International Association of Kambô Practitioners, you should also avoid kambô if you have Addison’s disease, suffer from severe epilepsy, or take immuno-suppressants.

There is a risk of hyponatremia with kambô; an imbalance in sodium levels that can be fatal. Do not drink more than two liters of water over the course of a ceremony. Alternatively, some facilitators provide electrolyte drinks, such as the manioc-based drink Caiçuma.

To minimize the physical risks, you should make sure you are in good health before your experience, and only trip with facilitators who you have researched and who you trust to take your safety as a priority. Be honest with your facilitator about any health conditions you have.

It’s also important to remember that the kambo experience involves being burned on your skin. These burns are painful, and will scar. Make sure you trust your facilitator, and don’t mind having permanent marks on your body.

A good kambô facilitator who is aware of the risks of kambô should:

  • Screen participants for serious health conditions

  • Have an emergency medical procedure

  • Have an epipen for potential allergic reactions

  • Have a defibrillator for potential heart attacks
  • Limit water intake or provide electrolyte drinks

  • Perform a test dot and wait to check for negative reactions before beginning the ceremony

  • Be constantly vigilant and should never leave your side during the ceremony

  • If a facilitator does not do these things, you should find one who does.

    The Kambô Experience

    The venom of the kambô frog will usually be extracted in front of you, if you are participating in a traditional ceremony. The frog will have its limbs tied to four posts, and its sides will be prodded with twigs to induce it to secrete its venom. The venom is scraped off its back, as a whitish gel. 

    Small burns will be made on your skin, in the shape of dots, with a burning stick. Your facilitator may gently remove the burned layer of skin with their fingers. The venom will then be applied to the burned dots of skin. 1-3 dots is considered a light or moderate dose, with any more considered heavy. Ideally, a facilitator will perform a test dot to check for allergic reactions, before administering the full dose.

    You will start to feel the effects within a few seconds or minutes. The experience can last up to an hour, but can be shortened by washing the venom off your burns. The first feelings are described as a rising nausea, mixed with an opioid-like dissociation. Your heart rate will gradually rise, you will start to feel hotter, and the nausea will increase until you are likely to vomit or defecate.

    Following the purge, you will continue to feel nausea, accompanied by dissociation, dizziness, a dream-like consciousness, and possibly stomach pain. Other physical sensations may include dry throat and mouth, blurred vision, difficulty moving, and numbness in the lips and tongue.

    People often feel exhausted after the experience, as if their body needs to rest. Afterwards, some people report renewed vigor – feeling as if they have been given a physical boost.

    Kambo Art by Visions Escudero

    Artist credit: Visions Escudero

    Read more about the kambô experience in our article Kambô Frog Medicine: An Unconventional Path to Healing.


    As of now, kambô is legal or unregulated in all countries. The only exception is Brazil, which has restricted the commercialization of kambô in 2004.

    Integration with Kambô

    Although kambô is not a typical psychedelic experience, if you’ve sought it out for healing, it may make sense to integrate the experience effectively into your life.

    Some facilitators will make sure to speak to you after the ceremony, to talk you through your experience and help you interpret parts that you are struggling with. Most good retreats will allow space for a sharing circle after the main ceremony, allowing you to hear other people’s experiences and verbalize your own.

    In the days and weeks following the experience, it’s recommended to continue any spiritual practices you had been cultivating beforehand, and observe how they may feel different. Revisit the experience through these practices, and think about which parts of your kambô experience you want to bring into your life, and how.

    If you are particularly struggling with some aspects of the experience, consider seeing a specialized integration therapist; they are an emerging class of counselors specializing in helping people process psychedelic experiences and they can be found all over the world. Have a look at our our Resources section for more details.


    Where does kambô come from?

    Kambô is the venom secreted from the back of the Amazonian frog Phyllomedusa bicolor.

    What is the difference between kambô vs bufo?

    Although they are both venoms from similar amphibians, kambô and bufo are wildly different in their effects. Bufo is psychedelic, whereas kambô is not. Bufo can have profound spiritual effects, while kambô mostly works on the body. Bufo is smoked, and kambô is applied to small wounds in the skin.

    Where to do kambô?

    Kambo ceremonies are abundantly available throughout the Upper Amazon basin, and globally through numerous international practitioners. You can refer to our Resources section for links to retreat finder portals and the International Association of Kambô Practitioners.

    Where to apply kambô?

    Kambô is usually applied to the skin of the shoulder, leg, or foot of the receiver.

    What does kambô feel like?

    Kambô can cause a range of unpleasant effects. They include: dizziness, nausea, trouble swallowing, a stomachache, heart palpitations, swelling in various parts of the body, and incontinence.

    How many kambô sessions do I need?

    A single session should suffice for most people to connect with the medicine and the process; whether additional applications are needed can be established after the first session. It's often said that three sessions within a month should be done for the medicine to be truly effective, but there is no evidence for this.

    How many dots are made?

    This is usually up to the practitioner's judgment. Generally, between three and seven points are applied. Normally, sessions start with a single initial dot to see how the receiver reacts to the medicine.

    Can kambô be dangerous?

    Kambô is generally safe for healthy individuals. However, with the increasing prevalence of its use in Europe, certain negative reactions have been reported. One study details a case of a user who has developed toxic hepatitis as a result of kambô use. [14] The researchers state that multiple organ failure and death are a possible negative consequence of kambo use.

    Can kambô be detected in a drug test?

    It is highly unlikely that any standard drug test would screen for the chemicals in kambô.

    Does kambô cause tolerance?

    Yes it does, but users have reported that the tolerance increases and decreases in phases. Some users say that Sananga or Becchete eye drops, or iboga can help reduce tolerance to kambô.

    How does kambô work?

    Numerous compounds called peptides within the venom impact the body in various ways; some cause vomiting or defecation, others lower blood pressure, raise the heart rate and adrenaline, while some have antibiotic effects. You can learn more about kambô's effects on the body in the Pharmacology section of this guide.

    Where to buy kambô?

    We do not recommend anyone obtain kambô and apply it on themselves, without an experienced and ethical practitioner. If you are interested in purchasing the medicine, however, kambô sticks, which already contain the dried venom, can be found in select ethnobortanical shops online.

    Can you do kambô and ayahuasca at the same retreat?

    Yes, and many retreat centers offer kambô sessions to their guests as additional (optional) experiences. Kambô can be done before ayahuasca to get the purge going or after ayahuasca to clear out what the brew didn't.

    Why do kambô?

    The primary purpose of receiving kambô is to achieve a profound purge and eliminate toxins from the body.

    Should I follow a diet before doing kambô?

    It's advised to stick to a light and healthy diet before doing kambô, as well as to eliminate any stimulants, pharmaceuticals, or recreational drugs for at least a few days prior to the session. Basically, following the ayahuasca Dieta would be perfect.

    How long does a kambô session last?

    The sessions can last between two and four hours, with the medicine remaining on the skin usually between 20 and 40min.

    Are kambô scars permanent?

    Yes. Kambô scars do fade after a while, but they always stay with the receiver.

    Can kambô cause psychological trauma?

    Kambô is not psychedelic and is mildly, if at all, psychoactive. However, the purging is intense and can last for a long time; it has a potential to cause or trigger some trauma in receivers.

    Can you die from kambô?

    Kambô contains toxic chemicals which cause intense physiological reactions. It can be deadly if used improperly or if it's given to someone with an underlying condition or on medication which may interact negatively with the venom.

    Can kambô frogs be kept as pets?

    They can, but they do not produce the same kind of venom when they are not in their natural habitat.


    1. Gomes, MB (2008). Kambô, The Spirit of the Shaman. Retrieved from:, June 2019.

    2. Labate BC, de Lima EC (2014). Medical Drug or Shamanic Power Plant: The Uses of Kambô in Brazil. Ponto Urbe 15.

    3. da Silva FVA, Monteiro WM & Bernarde PS (2019). “Kambo” frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor): use in folk medicine and potential health risks. Journal of the Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine, DOI: 10.1590/0037-8682-0467-2018

    4. Gorman, P (2019). Kambo - The Rise & Risks of the Amazonian Frog Medicine. The Modern Shaman Mystery School, accessed October 2019.

    5. Tastevin, C (1925). Le fleuve Muru. La Geographie 43 & 44, p.14-35 & p.403-422.

    6. Erspamer V, Erspamer GF, Severini C, Potenza RL, Barra D, Mignogna G & Bianchi A (1993). Pharmacological Studies of ‘Sapo’ from the Frog Phyllomedusa bicolor Skin: A Drug Used by the Peruvian Matses Indians in Shamanic Hunting Practices. Toxicon 31(9), p.1099-1111.

    7. Prada, P (2006). Poisonous Tree Frog Could Bring Wealth to Tribe in Brazilian Amazon. The New York Times, retrieved from:, June 2019.

    8. Calderon LA, Silva AAE, Ciancaglini P & Stábeli RG (2011). Antimicrobial peptides from Phyllomedusa frogs: from biomolecular diversity to potential nanotechnologic medical applications. Amino Acids 40, p.29-49.
    1. Joanna P & Lapinski TW (2017) Toxic hepatitis caused by the excretions of the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog – a case report. Clin Exp Hepatol 3(1), p.33-34.

    2. Daly, M (2016). How Amazonian Tree Frog Poison Became the Latest Treatment for Addiction. Vice, retrieved from:, June 2019.

    3. Garcia-Romeu A, Griffiths RR & Johnson MW (2015). Psilocybin-occasioned mystical experiences in the treatment of tobacco addiction. Curr Drug Abuse Rev 7(3), p157-164.

    4. Griffiths RR, Johnson MW, Carducci MA, Umbricht A, Richard WA, Richards BD, Cosimano MP & Klinedinst MA (2016). Psilocybin Produces Substantial and Sustained Decreases in Depression and Anxiety in Patients With Life-Threatening Cancer: A Randomized Double-Blind Trial. Journal of Psychopharmacology 30(12), p1181-1197.

    5. Leban V, Kozelj G & Brvar M (2016). The syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion after giant leaf frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) venom exposure. Toxicon 15(120), p.107-109.

    6. Pogorzelska J, Łapiński TW (2017). Toxic hepatitis caused by the excretions of the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog - a case report. Clin Exp Hepatol. 2017;3(1):33-34.

    Additional Artist Credits

    • Part 1 background image: Ruysen Flores Venancino
    • Part 2 featured image: Boris Quinteros
    • Part 3 background image: Amanda Sage
    • Featured image: Nicolás Rosenfeld