Recently, I tried both Kambo and Ayahuasca in the same week. Looking back on it, It feels as though I went through a spiritual surgery of sorts. It was nothing I expected and yet exactly what I needed. Plant medicine is not something to be taken lightly, and also not something that anyone does for fun. Plant medicine is a tool for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual healing. It is best to only partake in plant medicine if you feel called to. There are many people out there today that call themselves shamans, and it is so important to go through a trusted and verified source. That being said, I feel it is important to get this information out there because I truly believe that profound healing can happen with plant medicines.
What is Kambo?
Kambo is secreted venom from the giant monkey tree frog that lives in the amazon. The secretion (poison/medicine) is administered into burn marks that are made on the skin. Once administered, the effects come on instantly. You begin to feel hot, your heart rate increases, nausea kicks in and you feel a strong urge to purge. This can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
Why would you do this??
Kambo is considered a physical, spiritual, and energetic cleanse. Purging is a form of release, your body is responding to poison by ringing out the organs and ridding itself of toxins that were trapped deep inside of the body. Kambo boosts the immune system and is known to have a number of deeply healing properties. There are reports of Kambo helping with anxiety, depression, candida, chronic pain, cancer and more. Kambo is anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial. Not only is Kambo a huge physiological release, it also helps reset and restructure the mind. It is said that following a Kambo experience you can notice changes in your diet, perspectives and perception. It’s best to do Kambo only if you feel called to. It is a living organism and once inserted into your body the spirit of the frog stays with you.
In the days leading up to the Kambo ceremony, I felt an equal sense of excitement and nervousness. A friend that had done Kambo before set up the arrangements for us have the Kambo session together. It is said that the frog medicine begins working with you the moment you decide to participate.
The day of the Kambo session, you are told to fast (refrain from eating) at least 8-10 hours before the ceremony. This is crucial because you can’t have food in your stomach as it will interfere with purging the bile. I ate a light breakfast around 10am of lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas in tomato sauce.
That evening a woman arrived on the doorstep. We set up a bunch of cushions on the floor and all sat in a circle. She told us to drink a liter and a half of warm, purified water. As we chugged the water copal was burned around the space to clear the energy in the room. We did a few breathing exercises to begin the ceremony. 3 burns were poked into my upper arm. It was a sharp, burning sensation that quickly dissipated after a few seconds. This is how the medicine gets administered into the body.
The frog venom is then placed onto the blade of a knife and carefully inserted into the fresh burn which allows it to enter the lymphatic system instantly. Since it was my first time we started with one hole. There was a strong stinging sensation as I felt the venom spread into my limbs and begin to circulate through my body. A flash of heat poured over me as I breathed with the sensations. Shortly after, the last 2 burns were filled with venom and I felt a huge rush of heat come over me. I crawled to the bathroom as I knew I would soon be purging from both ends. I sat on the toilet and felt overwhelmingly sick as I shit out what seemed to be every last thing that was inside of me. I moved from the toilet to the ground and kneeled over a bucket. I knew I needed to puke but nothing was coming up so I gagged myself with my fingers. Shortly after, puke began to fly out of my mouth one stream after the next. It started off watery and eventually turned into a thicker, red/orange bubbly bile. I made my way back into the living room but not before I accidentally caught a glance of myself in the mirror. My face was swollen and my eyes were extremely red, it looked bizarre. I made my way back into the living room to lay down on some floor pillows. The intensity of the sensations seem to have lessened slightly although I still felt extremely sick and out of it. I sat up to drink more water and immediately purged again. I felt relief as more bile left my body. I tried to lay back down but could not get comfortable. The symptoms began to lessen but I could still feel the venom in my body. After a few silent moments of half laying, half sitting I purged another bout of bile.
The woman cleaned out the remaining venom from the burns. About an hour had passed at this point and my throat was burning from all of the stomach acid. In a flash I had gone from completely fine to extremely sick to totally back to normal. I would even go as far as to say that I felt great afterward. It was a very what the fuck type of feeling, my body and mind were relieved and also confused from bouncing between extremes.
In the end, I would say that I had a pretty positive experience with the Kambo medicine. While it was happening, I couldn't have said that. Looking back on it now it definitely helped me release bacteria and toxins trapped inside of my body. Afterall, healing isn’t always pretty. Healing requires you to meet your shadows and let go of what isn't serving you.
Reflections from an Ayahuasca Journey
What is Ayahuasca?
Ayahuasca is a vine that grows in the amazon rainforest. It contains hallucinogenic properties and is translated as “the vine of the dead.” Ayahuasca has been used for thousands of years. It is known to be very intense and to have deep healing properties. Purging and nausea usually occur and profound experiences are known to be had. When mixed with water and one specific shrub that also grows in the amazon, you are able to orally drink the ayahuasca brew that is active with DMT, which sends you on a 4 hour journey into the seemingly unknown. DMT is illegal in most of the world despite it being a natural compound that is found in the human body.
Why would you do this?
Ayahuasca is known to have many health benefits such as curing sickness, revealing truth and deep levels of healing. Ayahuasca is unpredictable and relatively unknown amongst modern day civilization. It is also illegal in many parts of the world which causes confusion and fear around the plant. But if you take the time to look into it, you will begin to realize that plants are medicine. Plants are our ancestors, so wise and powerful. Once you accept that plants are alive and intelligent, you can begin to work with them and let them help you. Afterall, they have been around on this planet so much longer than we have. Ayahuasca can be scary and healing at the same time because it reveals your wounds to you while simultaneously shining light in those places which is where healing takes place. To go on an Ayahuasca journey is to surrender to your humanness and go beyond what is known to you. It is a remembering of who you are, where you came from, and what you are doing here on this earth.
I followed a very strict diet for 2 weeks leading up to the ceremony including no excess sugar or salt, no excess oil, nothing spicy, no drugs or alcohol of any kind, no sexual activity, no red meat, no fermented foods and no dairy. This is to cleanse and purify the body so that the medicine is able to work with you. During my time on the diet, I had deep cravings and lost weight. After the first week I noticed that I was feeling lighter and more clear. I flip flopped between struggle and empowerment. The diet re established my relationship with food because despite having such restrictions I was still surviving and thriving. I felt a strong sense of self control while also realizing just how much us humans do in the pursuit of mouth pleasure. It tested my willpower and made me stronger. You continue the diet during the ceremony and up to 3 days after the ceremony.
For the ceremony I packed pillows and blankets, some light food (apples, bananas, blueberries and oats), yoga mat, a change of clothes, and a book to read during the day. You want to be as comfortable as possible during the ceremony so packing comfortable clothes and bedding is essential. We were provided a sleeping mat, water bottle, bucket and dim flashlight.
When I arrived on the property, I was greeted with a smile and shown around. I was taken into the maloca (yurt) where the ceremony would be held and shown where my space was. I arranged my pillows and blankets on my mat and didn’t bring much else into the yurt as I was told not to.
Next, I met with the facilitator and we talked about my intentions for the ceremony. My intentions were to heal my stomach (I have IBS and a weak digestive fire), to become more aware of anything that might be holding me back, and to celebrate my life and how far I have come. Upon completing the talk I sat on the couch and waited anxiously, eagerly, and patiently. One by one people began to roll through the door, I felt like I was on a dating show as I met my companions for the weekend.
A while later we were all told to head to the yurt. I sat on my mat cozy in my blankets with my eyes closed. I felt nervous and numb, at the whim of whatever was about to come my way. Shortly after we were all settled in the maloca the people leading the ceremony entered. For the sake of this article, I will call them facilitators. They sat at the head of the room and settled into their spots. They were also on mats with blankets that had a lot of various items next to them. They began to smoke jungle tobacco out of big wooden pipes as they poured the Ayahuasca for themselves first, traditionally.
The Ayahuasca was a dark brown liquid that looked thick and murky. After the facilitators drank, they began to call us up one by one to drink. The recommended dose is an ounce and a half although you are welcome to have more or less, if you choose. I became very anxious as my turn approached and decided to go for the recommended dose. As I was called up I sat on a cushion in front of one of the facilitators. As I held the brew in my hands, I closed my eyes and did my best to bless to experience. Before I knew it I shot the liquid into the back of my throat and downed it. It was an interesting taste that wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. It had a slight licorice taste that left a strong, bitter aftertaste in your mouth. I returned to my spot and rinsed my mouth out with water that I then spit into my bucket. After the last person was called up to drink, we turned off the lights and sat in silence as we waited for the medicine to kick in. The entire ceremony is in the dark and no talking is allowed.
About 45 minutes later the facilitators began singing songs. It was a beautiful sound unlike anything I had ever heard before. Around the same time I began to see colors and visuals. The first thing I saw was what looked like a beautiful eye. It was looking at me and blinked at me a few times. I was also looking back at it and before I knew it, I was following shapes and colors into an endless tunnel. My body felt heavy and uncomfortable. I'm not sure how long had passed, but I never felt like the situation was scary or too overwhelming once it was happening. I hadnt puked yet at this point and I was hoping to because I could feel the brew lurking in my stomach. My name got called to come up and get sang to. I brought my bucket and dim flashlight and sat in front of one of the facilitators. He asked me how I was doing and my response was a giggle. He sang to me and I could feel the vibration of his voice sink into my skin. My stomach began to feel activated and I began purging into my bucket. Three waves of vomit left my body and I felt like it was coming from the depths of my being. I instantly felt so much lighter. I returned to my spot once the singing was done and I felt like I was able to lay down after that. My body felt exhausted and my mind wasn’t sure what the hell was happening. It is said that the first ayahuasca experience is not extremely overwhelming. That the medicine is scanning your body and mapping out a plan for the following days. Once the ceremony ended I was too tired to do anything but fall asleep. I slept through the whole night and woke up in the morning feeling pretty out of it.
That next morning I ate an apple and some blueberries with a few bites of plain oatmeal. That would be my meal for the day. We sat in a circle so that everyone could share their experience. I felt so tired as I listened to different versions of the evening. They all seemed pretty similar to mine. I got through the rest of the day by doing some yoga, hula hooping and napping.
At 4pm we all met in the maloca for a round of Rapè. Rapè is jungle tobacco powder that is blown up both nostrils with a bamboo tepi (tube). It is used to ground and center one while also blessing them. Tobacco is the king of all plants and has very powerful healing properties despite the way it is used in modern times.
Next, the whole group stayed in the maloca. The main facilitator sat before us and told us all about his journey with plants. He mentioned that he treats stomach and digestive issues like IBS. He also translated some of what he was saying in the songs he was singing. He would say things like “I am removing the dragon from inside of you and burning it in a lake of fire.” It was so intriguing to hear about his apprenticeships and dietas, about how much the plants had healed him and given him a new life. He told us that he isn’t anyone special and doesn’t prefer to call himself a shaman. That anyone could be capable of doing this kind of work if they put in the time to develop a relationship with the plants and put in the effort to experience this deep healing work themselves. We were warned about people who claim to be shamans and healers that hadn’t actually put in the amount of time and training that it takes to lead people safely and effectively on these spirituals quests. Left in the hands of the inexperienced, ayahuasca can get dark or out of control. I don’t say this to scare you, but to make you aware of how important it is to verify your source if you decide to take an ayahuasca journey. Asking questions about where the person you are working with has apprenticed, where they get the medicine and what their relationship with plants is are huge indicators of experience.
After questions and story time we were all dismissed for a short 10 minute break. I remained in the maloca and meditated on healing and trusting the journey ahead. Everyone returned to the maloca and we began to get called up one by one again. I felt my body floating towards the front of the room, almost as if something beyond myself was driving the ship. I gulped down the liquid and returned to my seat. Once the medicine was actually in my body and I could taste it on my lips, a new sense of calmness fell over me that I hadn’t previously felt in all of those moments leading up to drinking the brew. In that instant, I knew that no matter what was about to happen, I would be alright. The last person drank and the lights went off. We sat in silence and I felt the medicine moving around my body. I took several deep breaths and released expectations.
A short while later I began to feel tingly sensations all throughout my body. Bright colors and patterns were flashing inside of my eyelids. It felt like the shapes and colors were guiding me up an endless tunnel. It was a very positive and pleasurable experience. My head seemed to be spinning with these tunnels although I had not puked and I could still feel the medicine in my body. Before I knew it, this pleasant experience began to fade away. The ceremony was not even halfway over. I was debating going up for seconds. On one hand, I felt really good from what I had just experienced. On the other, I remembered that I had come here to heal and that if I wanted to truly heal it wasn't going to be that easy. I remembered the time and energy that I put into the dieta and making this experience possible for myself, so I decided to go up for a second dose.
I sat before a dim red flash light in the dark and gulped down another dose. Immediately upon returning to my seat I blasted off. What I mean by this is that those tunnels and body sensations I was feeling became multiplied by 10 along with some nausea and intense fidgeting. I could NOT sit still. My legs and arms were moving and my head was literally moving in circles. I would get really tense and then flop around. I leaned over my bucket as tears and snot streamed down my face and I finally purged a little bit. I felt relieved and like I was better able to focus on my trip. Fidgeting, yawning, crying, purging, pooping, and laughing are all forms of release.
Eventually my name was called to come up and be sung to. I sat before the facilitator once more as he asked me how I was doing. I laughed as I told him about what I had been experiencing. He began to sing to me. I sat up tall and breathed in his words. I felt intense sensations in my stomach and before I knew it I was grabbing my bucket for another purge. This purge felt different from the previous ones. I felt it coming from deep within the core of my being. It was intense and ugly. As I puked into the bucket, I could also feel and see darkness coming out of me. In that moment it all made sense. I was letting go of ancestral trauma, releasing disease from my body, letting go of an old version of myself. After the song, tobacco was blown into my chest. He then stitched me back up with more tobacco smoke and that’s when I realized that I had just gone through a spiritual surgery.
I returned to my seat and felt overwhelmed with gratitude. As I rode out the rest of my experience I began to ask some questions. I asked if there was anything I can do to be more effective in my life. The answer I got was the most effective thing I can do is to communicate clear and direct at all times. Other ideas and tidbits of wisdom continued popping into my head. My body was still fidgeting and the visuals were beginning to fade.
Finally, the ceremony came to a close. We all sat at the edge of our mats in the dark. The facilitator came around one by one to ask how we were all doing. He sprayed a botanical oils on the crown of our heads and invited us inside for some tea. At this point I was extremely hungry. I hadn’t had a real meal in 3 days. My stomach was empty but I didn’t want to eat as I wanted to give my body time to process what had just happened.
Ayahuasca opens up your field of energy and allows blockages to be released. I am writing this one month later and I can report back that I haven’t had any symptoms of IBS since the ceremony. I received deep healing on a physical level and I am interested to go further with the medicine in the future. I feel extremely grateful and blessed to have had this experience. It was very profound and reminded me of all of the different dimensions and realities that are happening simultaneously. It reminded me that there is nothing to fear if you can see beyond the illusion of separation. It empowered my trust for life by showing me that even in the most uncertain of circumstances, I will always be okay. Life has returned to normal but I will never forget these experiences. It is often the most challenging and unfamiliar situations in my life that have helped me grow the most. They are often the things I remember most, too.