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Natural medi­cine: Kambô — clean­sing the drastic way

Natural medi­cine is often fasci­na­ting, surpri­sing and some­times even a little off-putting. From now on, we will occa­sio­nally give you an insight into special methods that were still unknown to us.

Today we are talking about Kambô, a tradi­tional healing prac­tice from the Amazon that uses the secre­tion of the giant forest toad. This method, which is deeply rooted in the cultures of the Amazo­nian natives, promises a variety of health bene­fits, from physical and mental deto­xi­fi­ca­tion to increased energy.

When performing Kambô, the skin is lightly scrat­ched with a hot object before the secre­tion is applied so that it can pene­trate the blood­stream. This is followed by strong physical reac­tions, such as an increase in heart rate, nausea and swea­ting. The end result is said to be a feeling of physical and mental cleansing.

Medi­cally, the secre­tion contains a rich mixture of peptides that can poten­ti­ally have various physio­lo­gical effects in the human body, for example stimu­la­tion of the immune system, pain relief, anti-inflamm­a­tory effects, anti­mi­cro­bial effects: There is evidence that certain peptides in Kambô have anti­mi­cro­bial effects and psychoac­tive and neuro­pro­tec­tive effects.

Despite all this, however, toad secre­tion is a toxin. Even snakes spit the toads straight back out if they acci­den­tally eat them. In addi­tion to the posi­tive expe­ri­ence reports about the cere­mo­nies, there are scien­tific studies, such as that by Sacco et al. (2022), which point to the risks and possible cases of poiso­ning by Kambô.

Sacco, M A et al. Kambô: Natural drug or poten­tial toxic agent? A lite­ra­ture review of acute poiso­ning cases. “Toxi­co­logy reports vol. 9, 905–913 (2022)

DOI 10.1016/j.toxrep.2022.04.005