Updated: Aug 24
Hola, I am Ocho. I have the honor of introducing Tim, a seasoned Kambo practitioner with a profound respect for indigenous traditions and a deep understanding of the human body's innate capacity for healing. Tim has become a trusted guide here at Ocho to help walk with those in need through the realm of frog medicine.
Armed with years of experience and a wealth of knowledge, he is poised to shed light on the transformational power of Kambo and its profound impact on physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
What was your path to discovering Kambo?
"Quite a long one! I moved to Mexico 9 years ago with no previous experience of ancestral medicines. However, for various reasons, some months later I found myself led to the world of plant medicine. I began to follow that path as it really resonated with me. It was a marked contrast to the other paths I had been following before, but even then, Kambo didn’t appear on my radar until much later when a shaman from Columbia came to do an ayahuasca ceremony.
In the days after the ceremony, the shaman asked if anyone wanted to receive Kambo. I said, ‘What's that?’. He ended up giving me some Kambo and I hated it. My body reacted strongly and in a particularly strange way, it was very uncomfortable and exhausting. However, knowing what I know now, I realize that the shaman was new to the practice of Kambo and I was one of his guinea pigs! There was a whole load of other things that contributed to that experience that led me to conclude that Kambo was so not my medicine! Fast forward a few years and another member of my medicine circle had, at that stage, learned to administer Kambo. He shared it with me and it was a wildly different experience.
The medicine helped me a lot with the issues I was having at the time, so I began to feel an affinity toward it. As time went on and I found myself moving more into the space of facilitating medicine, it very clearly came to me that Kambo was one that I could make a contribution with."
What is Kambo?
"Kambo is a natural secretion that comes from the giant green monkey tree frog, or to use its biological nam, Phyllomedusa Bicolor. Phyllomedusa means guardian of the leaves and Bicolor is the reference to its two main colors of the frog, a lovely bright green on top and a creamy white underneath. It is known as a tree frog because it actually lives mostly up in the trees. It’s not really a water-dwelling frog.
It needs the secretion for two reasons. One is for sunblock, as it lives up in the trees and is not always in the shade. The secretion, which comes out of various glands in its neck, operates as a sunscreen that it can spread all over its body. The other purpose of the secretion is a defense mechanism against predators, and an extremely effective one at that! If a snake wants to have a frog for lunch, for example, on the rare occasion the frog is down on the ground, the secretion has ingredients in it that are so fast acting that the snake is going to almost immediately release that frog once it’s in its mouth. Amazingly, not only does the frog survive but the snake is also unharmed.
This secretion was discovered thousands of years ago by indigenous peoples in the Amazon. The frog is highly prevalent there, partly because it has no natural predators. The indigenous peoples discovered that if you introduce this secretion into the body, it has a number of beneficial physical, mental, and emotional impacts.
They began to use it for things like what they call hunting magic. It would give them extra pep in their step, an extra energy boost before they go hunting, and help with their eyesight. It is also interestingly used to discipline unruly teenagers! It is used widely to this day to deal with sores, bites and infections and also to alleviate what they call Panema. Panema is a word that refers to a black cloud over your head, a total lack of energy, a run of bad luck, or an unwillingness to get out of bed in the morning. In the West, we have a word for that...depression. Given Kambo's power to heal, it was simply a matter of time before those in the West began to learn of these ancient medicines that are still able to support us in modern times."
What's in the secretion?
"Contrary to popular belief, it is not a toxin or a venom. Like I said before, the predator and prey both get to walk away. Instead, it is now understood to be a cocktail of naturally occurring peptides. In our own human biology and neurology, peptides are essential for us to function. We need peptides and this secretion contains dozens of them.
Many have yet to be isolated, as the studies of this are still quite new, but those that have can be clearly demonstrated to have a variety of not only biological but neurological applications. They affect multiple organs, processes, secretions, and levels throughout our body. Over time, we have come to understand they are hugely helpful in regulating our own bodies, minds, and emotions across a wide range of conditions."
Will you share what you have personally gained through your own practice?
"As a recipient of medicine, I think the pivotal moment came when I did an intensive course of instruction to receive my certification as a practitioner. It was two weeks with 9 students and the way that we learned was to practice on each other. This meant that over the course of 2 weeks we received an enormous amount of Kambo relative to a normal treatment protocol.
Of course, all of us had arrived with our own mental and emotional baggage and spent two weeks in a very intense but very trusting and open environment receiving Kambo. The Kambo acted as a catalyst for change within ourselves. I don't think any of us quite appreciated that we were going to be receiving so much medicine and ultimately so much healing as we did in those 2 weeks. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that those 2 weeks completely changed my life.
Up until that time I had some history serving Kambo and the idea of the course was to put me firmly onto the path as a facilitator, but what this did was provoke a whole lot of change in how I saw myself. It really taught me a lot about myself. Sometimes people refer to Kambo as the great revealer, and when properly applied, it certainly can be.
For me, it marked an extraordinary transition. By continuing work with Kambo, both as a facilitator and a receiver, the understanding and the benefits of it continue to deepen. It has been quite a journey.”
What are the benefits people may experience through Kambo?
"First, because of the breadth of peptides and the huge variety of organs within our body that they act upon, there is a wide range of potential physical benefits. Most people talk of Kambo in terms of it being a great detoxifier, which is absolutely true. Initially, on a superficial level, it manifests as a fantastic cleansing agent. I don't know anything that is more thorough and powerful as Kambo when it comes to penetrating our cells and clearing out physical and emotional toxins that have been hanging around for years.
Now, let's talk about more than just physical. If you look at our whole system as energetic, Kambo acts as a catalyst for moving energy. When you release something physically, the movement of energy that results is associated with other types of release. Kambo doesn’t just operate as something that physically leaves your body. It also helps generate emotional release. It can help with mental clarity, inspiration, and creativity during the period after the ceremony.
The way the peptides work ultimately benefits people because it is rebalancing what is disharmonious. If our system is in a state of homeostasis, the body has the natural capacity to regulate and heal itself. Because of the breadth and depth of Kambo's application, it can help people with a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional conditions. It is truly magical."
Will you walk us through what a Kambo session looks like?
"First, we start with a conversation to understand where the client is at. Because Kambo operates both on a physical and an emotional level, working with compassionate inquiry helps bring things that need to be released a little closer to the surface and prepares the client to meet the frog.
Next, we have a discussion about how many points we are going to apply, and where on the body they will go. We want to direct the medicine to the location of these points. Once we agree, we prepare the body to receive the medicine.
The way the medicine is brought into the body is through the lymphatic system, so we need to access the lymphatic fluid. The way we do that is to lightly touch a point of skin with a lit incense stick or a very thin Tamishi vine that comes from the Amazon. We clean the area up and open up a nice little round point. We open the rest of the “gates” so they’re all ready to receive the medicine.
While that is going on, the client is drinking around 1.5 - 2 liters of water. The goal is to fill the stomach with a reservoir of water which has two applications: have something there to purge, and allow the peptides to find toxins in the body and bring them into the digestive system so they can be expelled. Once the water is consumed (within a 15-minute period), the medicine is prepared in points that match the size of the gates. Now it's time to apply the points. For first-time recipients of Kambo, we apply a test point to make sure they respond well to it before adding the rest of the points.
Once the medicine is applied, the client is in communion with the Spirit of Kambo and the medicine is starting its journey throughout the body. Initially, the way this manifests is what we call a flushing stage, where the vasodilating peptides start to open up all your blood vessels and arteries and there is a rush of blood to the head. You can hear your heart pumping. There is a temporary elevation in blood pressure. What goes up must come down, so other peptides start to kick in and all the levels start to drop. With the reduction in blood pressure, the client will experience a slightly more tired feeling and the beginnings of nausea. This is a symptom of the toxins starting to reach their destination. After a period of a few minutes to 15/20 minutes, some kind of a purge is expected.
Purging typically is through the mouth, sometimes out of the back, and sometimes both at the same time...the so-called “double rainbow”! It is important to realize though, that purging means releases of various kinds. Purging in a Kambo context can include any kind of energetic release...trembling, shaking, crying, shouting, and crying. Ideally, we want to see all of the water in the client's stomach come out in one way or another, along with all the debris and toxins that Kambo is so amazing at expelling.
It's also important to note that when the main part of the ceremony is over and you’ve removed the medicine from the point, a magical period follows where the client lays down to rest. This afterglow period is where the real magic of Kambo appears. The medicine is still there percolating, however the client is no longer distracted by this intense physical process and a meditative, sometimes trance-like, reflective state is experienced.
This state is where inner clarity and intuitive messages start to flow, and it’s in that deeply relaxed state that the Kambo can continue to move more deeply through the body into the spaces where it’s most needed."
Are there any particular challenges or misconceptions about Kambo that you would like to address?
"Misconceptions about Kambo? Yes, there are a few. First, people often call it frog poison. It is actually not a poison or venom. It is not there to kill or incapacitate permanently. Also, you can’t overdose on it because it contains natural peptides, which are not recognized by the body as foreign, unlike most synthetic pharmaceuticals that need to make their way more forcefully into our cells. Our cell walls gladly open up to receive peptides from nature and when they have received what they need, the cell walls simply close. If there is extra Kambo in the body, it has nowhere to go so it simply gets flushed out.
Also, people often correlate the number of points you have with the intensity of the session. "What a warrior you must be because you had 10 points of Kambo." Nothing could be further from the truth. I've seen large, burly men respond very quickly to a couple of points. On the other hand, there might be a very diminutive person who’s got a whole bunch of points taking a lot longer to calmly go through their process. There is really no direct correlation because each person is different and each circumstance is different. No two treatments are the same."
How do you see the future of Kambo evolving, and what role do you see it playing in the broader field of plant medicine?
"I think that what is developing as these medicines are better understood and more widely available is a bridge between the traditional uses of these medicines (many of which have histories going back thousands of years in contexts very different from our own) to their safe and sustainable use in our own Western culture where we have a wide range of pharmaceutical histories, health conditions, and physical ailments that are simply absent in the Amazonian jungle.
Having said that, as science is beginning to understand more and more, as the individual peptides in Kambo are being isolated, and as the world is catching up, it is clear that Kambo has a much larger application for our greater conditions than any indigenous might ever have imagined. Kambo is in its infancy compared to its indigenous uses. I don't think we are even beginning to understand some of the breadths of the potential uses, and I would like to see more of that.
I would also like to sound a note of caution because the context we are serving the medicine is different here. It is really important to those receiving, and to the reputation of Kambo itself, that it is served by people who know what they are doing and are able to provide the medicine in a sustainable and safe way. This is why I love working at Ocho because this is part of the DNA of Ocho. I would like to see Kambo go far and wide and for there to be more funding allocated to research, as there is so much more to understand, as long as practices remain safe and indigenous traditions and cultures remain protected."
What does Ocho mean to you?
"I feel like I’ve found my home for practicing this medicine since I started working at Ocho. These medicines, and the intention behind them, come from a very different place than most of us are used to in the West. They circumvent the West's traditional pharmacological model, which is much more symptom-oriented rather than really understanding that the mind, body, and spirit are all one.
Looking at each person as a complete being underpins the work here at Ocho. Ocho is a place where instead of just looking at the problem and how to provide temporary relief from its symptoms, we inquire at a much deeper level to get to the root. “Why did it all come to fruition in the first place?” So often, this line of inquiry takes you back to your origin, your soul story, and earlier times in your life. I like the fact that wherever help is needed as you journey down this path of self-inquiry, Ocho has the practitioners, resources, and mindset to do that in a very integrated and safe way.
We recognize here that all these wonderful medicines are tools in a huge toolbox that Ocho continues to develop. For me, I really resonate with that mindset. Where value is perceived from Kambo, I am delighted to be able to provide this service. It feels so good."
Thank you, seekers. Thank you, Tim.
Let's cleanse, release, and transform. I can't wait to journey with you.