Presented here is a wonderful article by photographer and journalist Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak.  By supporting Swiatoslaw and the Matses you help to promote the sustainable collection of Kambo, the Matses culture and the work of Swiatoslaw.  One word of caution: If you do decide to buy Kambo sticks to use at home, please do so with a great deal of care and with an experienced sitter.  If you have questions about how to use Kambo you may contact me here:

Okay, so here is how it goes, or at least the way Matses tribesmen do it. This guy below is called Robinson and will take you through the process of harvesting and using the frog venom, called in his language kampu or acate. Be aware, it is rough, done barbarian style, no new age mantras, blowing Palo Santo or alignment of your chakras. Just brace yourself and think, it is better to suffer once a lot, than all your life, more and more. Kambo is health. But yes, frogs are harassed in the process, unlike your factory farm chicken they survive though.

 First you must go into the forest at night, when the frogs are active and pretend you are one of them. When they hear you and are fooled, they will respond, so you know now where they are. Now is the hard part, climbing the canopy in darkness, sneaking to catch the green fellow. You should not hold it too long, especially if you have any scratches or wounds from climbing, as the venom is already being excreted because of stress. Once down, you can already start harvesting, or wait until the morning, but keep guard over your prisoner.

It is hard part for animal lovers, because the venom is excreted when frog is in distress, so what you have to do is actually make it stressed and angry. You can approach it with all respect you have, but you can’t go around the fact – if it is not unpleasant, it will not work.

After scraping, pressing, blowing tobacco, sticking grass up his nose, enough poison has been collected and placed on the stick, and the exhausted little fellow is released, mubling his “bastards”, recovering from the shock, before heading back into the forest.

  We have sticks full of medicine and we have thin tamishi vine for burning skin and we can get them to work.

You can do it New Age style, with neo-shamanic murmuring and singing, invoking Pachamama and rattling your rattles or whatever, or you can just do it practical, simple way the indigenous people do it – with the main rules being – it brings bad luck to watch as points are burned on your skin, and if you keep your head up , apart from the moment of puking, you will swell less. There are three simple steps. Burn the points with your tamshi stick, apply the venom moist with your saliva, wait for suffering. The first two can be done for you by the professional, your job is to drink lots of liquid and eat nothing , otherwise you can suffocate when you vomit through swollen throat. Because the last step is a lot of unpleasant action.

One hour later our human victim is happy to walk out of jungle, fit and strong. He will be slightly swollen for another couple of hours, his voice may be low, a bit like toad, and his marks will testify to his courage to face suffering at will, before real disease could force him to.

Traditionally Matses tribe use kambo mainly por prevention of malaria and increasing of hunting skills. It enhances stamina, immunological system, awareness, sight. People who do kambo on regular basis very rarely get sick, and if they do, often they treat it very fast – also with the frog. Believe it or not, read what you can, but perhaps only your experience can prove. If you do want to try, be aware, there is a lot of low quality stuff in circulation, or sometimes simply fake, as the demand increases rapidly from month to month. Do it with experienced practitioner, or yourself, but with a sitter that can help you. The only medical contraindication is serious heart problems, but doing research before doesn’t hurt. It is good to stay away before from alcohol, drugs, heavy, fat food. Kambo is also completely legal in most countries.  You can buy kambo that comes directly from the people in this story. Doing so, you are certain of good quality, and you support a particular indigenous family of senor Robinson, poor and warm people, masters of the environment they live in. As well as further work on the content of this blog.

It is all natural, organic and handmade :) Sticks with decent amount of medicine, after it dries, are wrapped in corn husks, tied with chambira – string done on the spot from palm fibre, and, together with applying vine, ready for shipping.

©2016, Swiatoslaw Wojtkowiak • Blog

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