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-Everything you need to know about "The Forests Vaccine"-

Kambo, also known as the 'vaccine of the forest', is the secretion from the Giant Monkey Tree Frog, scientifically known as Phyllomedusa bicolor. The indigenous history of Kambo use for ritualistic and healing purposes dates back several centuries ago. Indigenous tribes from the Amazon Rainforest as the Matses, Katukina, Kaxinawa, and Mayoruna have been using this medicine for generations to cleanse their bodies and ward off bad luck, which they call “panema”, illnesses, and evil spirits. The applying of Kambo involves a ritual which is often accompanied by traditional music and prayers, always done in community, creating an atmosphere of reverence and respect for the frog and the healing it provides, whilst bringing everyone together from the villages.

Kambo was firstly introduced to the western world thanks to the work of anthropologist and ethnobotanist Peter Gorman, with the first recorded use of Kambo in an article him and Jeff Rotman documented for New Look Magazine in 1986.

Traditionally, Kambo has been used for various purposes. It is believed to bring strength and resilience as well as luck to hunters by improving their senses, agility, focus, and increase endurance. It has also been used as a remedy for numerous health issues such as infections, fevers, chronic pain, malaria, necessary abortion, etc. The application of Kambo is believed to purge the body of toxins, and resetting several systems in the body back to their healthiest standards.

“As the medicine moves through your bloodstream, it loosens the plaque buildup in your arteries that causes diminished blood flow and can lead to heart disease. Similarly, it cleans out the fat, dirt, and dead skin in your body’s pores, allowing your skin to breathe as it was meant to breathe. It rushes through your system eliminating all of the toxins that block, clog, and otherwise diminish the functions of our organs. Over the years I’ve seen it improve general vigor in people, permanently improve eyesight, eliminate heart palpitations, and ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, all by opening up the blood flow. No doubt it also has a host of applications I’ve not yet witnessed. That cleansing, of course, puts a lot of toxins into your system temporarily, which is why taking sapo is so difficult and painful. You simply feel poisoned for 15 minutes, and you are: poisoned by what your body has been storing that it shouldn’t be storing.”- Gorman, Peter. Sapo In My Soul: The Matsés Frog Medicine 

The scientific research on Kambo is on its 3rd decade of rigorous medical research, which mainly involves trying to pinpoint, isolate and replicate the collective effects of kambo. The first scientific reports about Kambo were done by Vittorio Erspamer, who indentified kambo as a "Phyllomedusa bicolor" species and lauded it as "a fantastic chemical cocktail with potential medical applications, unparalleled by any other amphibian". Some studies suggest that the peptides found in Kambo secretion may have potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antimicrobial effects. Peptides are short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. They play many crucial roles in the body, including acting as hormones, neurotransmitters, and growth factors.

"He (Erspamer) explained that among the several dozen peptides found in sapo, seven were bioactive (although now there are over 16 bioactive peptides found) meaning that each has an affinity and selectivity for binding with receptor sites in humans. (A receptor is like a lock that, when opened with the right key—the bioactive peptides—triggers specific chemical reactions in the body.) The peptide families represented in kambo included bradykinins, tachykinins, caerulein, sauvagine, tryptophyllins, dermorphins, and bombesins. " - Gorman, Peter. Sapo In My Soul: The Matsés Frog Medicine 

Kambo’s bioactive peptides consist of specific amino acid chains that perform beneficial functions recognized by the body’s receptor sites, which welcomes them at a cellular level, enabling the body to cleanse cells of deposits left by foreign substances, without causing stress to the cells. This unique peptide combination serves as a key that opens up the body, permitting kambo to cross the blood-brain barrier instead of being filtered out by the body's defense system. This capability makes Kambo an incredibly potent method for reaching and treating diseases.

The human body naturally contains neuropeptides such as oxytocin, endorphin and insulin, that specifically influence the brain and body's activities by interacting with neurons. These amino acids are often referred to as the foundation of all human life. Peptides found in mammalian gut and brain tissues often have counterparts in amphibian skin, also known as Host Defense Peptides and vice versa. This similarity has sparked interest in the potential benefits for humans, such as the effects of various peptides, neuropeptides and biopeptides, which trigger the body's own processes internally.

Some of the naturally occurring peptides found in Kambo are:

  • Phyllomedusin: strongly affects the salivary glands, tear ducts, intestines, and bowels, profoundly influences the gastrointestinal system, it’s the reason behind the deep purge we get with Kambo.

  • Phyllokinin: potent vasodilators that enhance the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, offering promising therapeutic applications for neurodegenerative disorders. These include enhanced drug delivery to the brain, natural defense against infections, and potential neuroprotective effects.

  • Caeruleins: caerulein and phyllocaerulein display a potent action on the gastrointestinal smooth muscle, and gastric and pancreatic secretions, these powerful peptides have potential benefits including myotropic properties, cardiovascular impact, gland stimulation, analgesic effects, and medical applications, providing promising avenues for enhanced health and therapeutic solutions.

  • Sauvagines: causes a long-lasting fall in blood pressure, accompanied by intense tachycardia, heart palpitations, and stimulation of the adrenal cortex, which contributes to the feelings of satiety, heightened sensory perception, and increased stamina that people tend to experience after a session.

  • Dermorphin and Deltorphin: Dermorphin and deltorphin, potent peptides that selectively activate opiate delta receptors, offer groundbreaking potential in pain management, mood regulation, and minimizing opioid dependence, paving the way for advanced therapeutic developments in medicine.

  • Adenoregulins:  Adenoregulins, which interact with the body's adenosine receptors, offer groundbreaking potential in treating conditions like depression and cognitive diseases, possibly revolutionizing our understanding of cellular energy, metabolism, and longevity in medical science.

  • Dermaseptins: Antimicrobial peptides found in frog skin, offer a broad-spectrum defense against various pathogens and show promising potential in targeting cancer cells by inhibiting tumor angiogenesis.

  • Bradykinin: Bradykinins, especially phyllokinins and tryptophilins, play a crucial role in cardiovascular health, potentially offering therapeutic applications in hypertension, vasodilation, muscle contraction, inflammation, and overall well-being.

  • Ceruleans: Ceruleans are unique molecules that profoundly impact the digestive system by stimulating gastric, bile, and pancreatic secretions, offering potential treatments for gastrointestinal disorders and innovative diagnostic methods for pancreatic dysfunction.

  • Bombesins: Bombesins are crucial peptides that significantly influence digestive health by stimulating hydrochloric acid secretion, enhancing pancreatic function, modulating intestinal activity, and improving nutrient absorption, leading to optimal digestion, metabolism, and overall well-being.

  • Tryptophilins: Tryptophilins, unique neuropeptides, offer promising insights into enhancing neuroplasticity, mood regulation, and combating neuroinflammation, potentially revolutionizing our understanding and treatment of neurological health and disorders.

“As highlighted by David Attenborough, these peptides serve as a form of 'anti-bacterial sunscreen' that the frog applies to itself, rather than a poison. Amphibians are a rich source of these compounds - also known as Host Defence Peptides - though none are as exquisitely tuned to humans as these creatures. Because our bodies are already familiar with and produce such elements, it intuitively accepts and signals these peptides for our advantage. Imagine a lock that, when opened with the right key, triggers inherent support rather than direct action like a drug. Consequently, the downstream benefits relate to functions our bodies naturally perform, such as pain management, inflammation control, immune system defense, hormone balance support, bacterial / fungal / viral defense, anti-tumor activity (shown in-vivo) and more. It is often said to help balance depression, anxiety, and emotional challenges.” – Jason Fellows, Kambo Secrets – Unlocking the power of peptides.

Kambo can be beneficial not only for releasing emotional blockages and clearing negative energy but also as a promising treatment for depression and anxiety, stress, PTSD, addiction, chronic pain and fatigue, toxin release, migraines, fertility issues, cancer, Alzheimer's, arthritis, HIV, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and much more.

-Photo by Cristina Garcia

Research by the University of Paris indicates that in-vivo, Kambo "inhibits the proliferation and colony formation of various human tumor cell types", particularly prostate tumor cells. Queens University in Belfast earned a prestigious award for their groundbreaking work with cancer and frog secretions. In other areas, a double-blind RCT in 1985 demonstrated superiority to morphine with fewer side effects, less tolerance and withdrawal - "it was clear that dermorphin was much more potent and long-lasting compared with morphine" - suggesting a potential role in the search for new analgesics.

What is most intriguing is the synergy of the combined peptide components in Kambo. Not only are they seemingly meant to work in harmony, but they are proving quite challenging to reproduce, complicating efforts to isolate and reproduce the benefits of any one peptide.

The use of Kambo has sparked several controversies. While some praise its potential therapeutic benefits, others raise concerns about the safety and ethical issues surrounding its use. Improper extraction of the frog's secretion can harm not only the frog itself but also the indigenous people who share and protect this medicine. Imroperly screening an idividual for kambo might have many negative consequences as well, which is why implementing safety and emergency protocols is of great help.

Additionally, there are concerns about the motives behind new research on Kambo, particularly the potential for isolating and patenting peptides, as Peter Gorman states, if there is any money to be made from any future uses of sapo, a sharer of that money belongs to the Matsés, and I would add - to the indigenous tribes that hold the knowledge for this medicine. Currently there are over 70 Kambo patents lodgeg, mainly in the USA.

There's also an issue with neo-shamanic practices and self-proclaimed Kambo organizations that profit from the traditional way of learning the medicine. These organizations and individuals often impose their own standards, rather than honoring the indigenous tribes through learning directly from them, spending time in the jungle with them, and truly interacting with the Kambo frog itself and giving back to the communities.

-Written by Mariana Gutierre


Mariana Gutierrez (Mariri) is a trauma-informed kambo, plant medicine, yoga, and sound therapy facilitator. Practicing since 2019 when she studied the power of Kambo in the enchanted embrace of the Amazon Rainforest under the guidance of maestro Manuel Angulo Vasquez and later, with maestro Matses Don Wilder.

Her passion lies in guiding individuals to commune with their innermost selves, the whispers of nature, and the magical spirits of the elementals through improvised, intentional, and somatic sounding and movement, as well as through the traditional use of certain plant medicine, herbalism, and Kambo.

She organizes and participates in various wellness retreats in Mexico and Peru with her Shipibo, Matses, and Mestizo teachers, providing safe guidance in expanded states of consciousness and serving as a cultural bridge, whilst advocating for ethical practices of Kambo recollection and being in constant reciprocity with the indigenous tribes she learns from and their lands .

You can learn more from this medicna de la selva with Mariri here:

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