The Frog Medicine – Kambô
Since ancient times, the Amazonian tribes have performed rituals for different reasons such as healing, increasing their courage, gaining wisdom, building strength and entering into harmony with nature to increase their hunting skills. All of this knowledge has been transmitted from parents to children for generations, and we can learn some of it with the help from our experts.
Although it is possible to perform these rituals in one day, it is recommended to take at least seven days to obtain their true benefit.
Frog medicine, known in Spanish as Medicina del Sapo, originally known as Acate in Matsés language; Sometimes called kambô and Vacina do sapo in Brazilian portuguese, this ancestral ceremony is performed by native experts from the Matsés ethnic group and other indigenous peoples of the Amazon.
In the Matsés, the ceremony starts by catching a frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) also called giant monkey frog in English, because it climbs into the rainforest canopy. The Matsés expert immobilizes it by tying its four extremities, extracts the poison from its back with a small wooden stick and places it on a piece of cane, then release the frog. He subsequently dries and stores the stick to be used for this practice.
Later, before applying it, the expert rehydrates the dried poison with water or saliva. The expert heats up a thin piece of vine (tamshi) and burns several points on the participant’s arm or chest, producing instant blisters on his/her skin. The amount of burn marks will depend on the tolerance of each person. The blisters will then be scratched open one by one and the poison extracted from the frog will be applied on the wounds.
This practice is usually performed on rainy days by the Matsés in order to get more energy, trust and improve their shooting skills for hunting purposes. Several days after having been stung, the Matsés will go hunting and try their best shot with bow.
According to researchs, the substance segregated by the giant frog contains deltorphin, acting as an emetic and dermorphin, acting as a powerful analgesic. This practice is actually used as a treatment in alternative medicine.
Amazon Explorer performs this practice with a Matsés expert.