People are Poisoning Themselves With Frog Poison. Have We taken Spiritual Trends too far?
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People are Poisoning Themselves With Frog Poison. Have We taken Spiritual Trends too far?

June 19, 2024 Share



If we are poisoning ourselves with frog secretion, perhaps its time to re-consider our spiritual practices.

“Oh sweetheart, you’re such a bore,” teased the man next to me. Those were Joe’s second words he ever spoke to me, barely 10 minutes after meeting him in our day-long excursion into the Costa Rican jungle. Joe, an old wall-street retiree turned spiritual seeker (which must have been at least 30 years my senior), was peer pressuring me into taking drugs. It was a peculiar choice of small talk.

Not that I would have ever admitted it to proud Joe, but I had noticed his scar the moment we boarded the boat. It’s not particularly hard to miss: three raised, in-line dots placed right below the shoulder bone. A sign that you have been purged. Renewed. Fixed.

A sign that Joe, the ex-wall street mogul, had dosed himself with frog poison.

Image courtesy of Healthline

I first came across this frog poison craze on TikTok, a place where my algorithm had figured out that a) I am intrigued by spirituality and b) that I was spending the whole month of December in the depths of the Costa Rican jungle. A mix of which, almost inevitably, leads one to find out about Kambo.

Kambo is the name given to the secretion of the giant rain frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor), a spiritual practice that originated in the Amazon with the indigenous tribes. Legend has it that the Kambo ceremony was discovered by observing a tribe member purging a deadly spider venom by applying frog secretions. The practice remained largely within the Amazon basin until the mid-20th century when Western explorers began documenting it. However, its widespread popularity in Western circles is a recent phenomenon, fueled by the internet and a growing fascination with alternative healing practices.

While Joe had come across Kambo in his efforts to physically purge his past life (he was exhausted, bored of capitalism and unfulfilled), many come across Kambo when pursuing a sense of emotional and spiritual renewal. Proponents claim Kambo offers a range of benefits including detoxification (Kambo is believed to purge the body of built-up toxins and negative energies), reduced inflammation (Kambo can help manage chronic inflammatory conditions), and improved mental clarity (The intense purging experience is said to lead to a heightened sense of focus and well-being).

But as Joe loved mansplaining, Kambo is not a walk in the park. 

What To Expect During a Kambo Ceremony

Image courtesy of Medical News Today


A reputable practitioner will conduct a thorough medical history check to ensure you’re a suitable candidate for Kambo. Dehydration and certain medications can increase risks, so expect to be advised accordingly.You’ll also likely be asked to abstain from food and certain beverages for several hours before the ceremony.

The Burn

A small stick dipped in burning copal resin is used to create superficial burns on the skin, typically on the ankles, arms, or shoulders. The number of burns varies depending on the practitioner and your individual needs.


The dried Kambo secretion, which resembles a small brown disc, is then applied directly to the burns.

The Purge

Within minutes, the Kambo gets to work. Expect intense nausea, vomiting, sweating, and potentially diarrhea. Your heart rate and blood pressure will likely rise. This phase can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

The Release

As the Kambo’s effects wear off, the purging subsides. You might experience a wave of exhaustion,but some report feeling a profound sense of well-being and emotional clarity.

Image courtesy of ICEERS

The Risks

The allure of a quick fix for emotional and physical ailments is undeniable. However, the rise of Kambo ceremonies in Western cultures raises a number of ethical concerns:

Cultural Appropriation

The traditional use of Kambo by indigenous tribes is deeply rooted in their cultural and spiritual beliefs. Commercializing this practice and charging exorbitant fees for ceremonies raises questions about respect for these traditions. There are concerns that indigenous knowledge is being exploited without proper compensation or understanding of the cultural context.

Lack of Regulation

Kambo ceremonies are often unregulated in Western countries. This lack of oversight raises concerns about the qualifications of practitioners administering the substance and the potential for misuse. Serious side effects and even deaths have been reported due to improper administration.

Misinformation and Hype

The internet is rife with anecdotal stories and exaggerated claims about the benefits of Kambo. This can create unrealistic expectations and encourage people to participate in ceremonies without fully understanding the risks.

Ultimately, the decision to participate in a Kambo ceremony rests with the individual. But before succumbing to peer pressure from a well-meaning (but totally frog-poisoned) Joe, it’s crucial to weigh the potential risks and benefits.Perhaps a weekend yoga retreat or a silent meditation session might offer a more measured path to renewal, without the risk of a potentially life-threatening purge.

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