Sunday, August 27, 2017

Differences Between Sapo and Kambo

Sapo and Kambo are medicines used by indigenous groups in some areas of the northwest Amazon. Both are the collected secretions from the Phyllomedusa bicolor tree frog, or the Giant Waxy Tree Frog. Those secretions are what the frogs puts out through its skin when frightened/attacked by a predator. They have the ability to "freeze" a predator who tries to eat the frog, giving the frog a chance to back out of the predator's mouth--generally constrictor tree snakes--and make its escape. In human use, the secretions are collected and dried on a hardwood stick. When it's time for use, the material is liquified with either saliva or water, and placed on the subcutaneous layers of skin which has been burned with a piece of vine. The medicine quickly enters the blood stream and the user goes into a 15 minute period of a kind of agony, during which the peptides in the medicine clean out toxins from the body that have been stored, sometimes for years. The 15 minutes is painful and agonizing; the aftermath is wonderful: Your senses are heightened, and your strength and stamina improved. Regular use of the medicine can prevent disease, improve organ function, clear out arterial plaque and do a host of other positive things for the body.
   But there are subtle differences between the use of Sapo and the use of Kambo that should be noted. It should also be noted that the use of Sapo originates, as far as we can tell, with the indigenous Matses of Peru, while the use of Kambo originates with Brazilian indigenous.
     There are a couple of differences between sapo and kambo. While Kambo is liquified with water, Sapo is liquified with the server's saliva, which not only imparts the spirit of the server with the medicine, but the enzymes in the saliva quickly break down the peptides in the medicine, making them more available, so that the effect is generally stronger. Sapo is also generally given in larger points (burn marks), so that 2-3 points is a full serving, while Kambo is used on very tiny burn marks, allowing for a much higher number of points to be used.
   The second primary difference is while most Kambo users ascribe to the theory that you should drink a liter or two of water a half-an-hour or so prior to Kambo use, you don't drink water prior to sapo. You might have a cup of coffee or a bottle of water, but that would be incidental. (Yes, you can have it 10 minutes after eating lunch as well). The Matses, in my experience, did it when it was time to do it: Sometimes that was in the middle of eating, sometimes in the morning, often in the morning, afternoon and evening of several days in succession. By NOT drinking a lot of water, as is generally done with Kambo, the medicine does not concentrate on the stomach, but rather roams more throughout the body. Which I think gives a more well-rounded body reset. (My opinion only).
    A third difference, though new, is the edict about only doing Kambo three times during a moon cycle and then waiting a few more moon cycles prior to doing it again. I think this has only appeared in the last year or two.
    With Sapo, if you just do it once, that's okay; three days in a row goes much deeper; seven or 10 days in a row goes much deeper than three. I've never been able to do more than 10 but I'm sure it would be great. In the Sapo course that I teach, people do Sapo 7 days in succession, during the last three of which they do it twice a day.
   Small but important differences between Kambo and Sapo use, despite it being the same medicine.


Unknown said...

The term sapo for kambo (of any type) is a misnomer perpetuated by Kambo practitioners and later adopted by the Matses by virtue of spanish not being their first language. While the term is widely used and accepted by practitioners trained in the matse's preparation it is a misnomer and has the potential to be confused with another amphibian medicine (bufo alvarius).

Peter Gorman said...

Marcelo: Thanks for writing, but you're wrong about the Matses adapting it later. When I brought it out of the jungle in 1986 it was the first known use of it anywhere. There are three mentions of it in the literature but none of those three people ever saw it used, ever saw the frog, or ever used it themselves. When I wrote about having it used on me in 1986, that was the first mention in literature of it from someone who had used it. So the Matses did not adopt it later, they were the first users that we actually know used it.

Unknown said...

Apologies. You are correct. I should not have written the word "later" as it makes it sound like I'm saying that the matses learned the word from kambo practitioners which is obiously not the case. The Matses may have used the term sapo before you brought the medicine out of the jungle but the word was erroniously adopted by the matses by spanish speakers. The matses and kambo as a medicine predates the matses own use of the term sapo. So the term was adopted by the matses by outsiders for the purpose of communication with said outsiders.

Peter Gorman said...

Marcelo: As the Matses are the first indigenous group ever known to have used the frog medicine, I don't understand what you are saying. Three people had mentioned it in literature, with one saying he witnessed a ceremony. But he could not identify the frog and his entire experience of experiencing it was two lines long. Not the basis of any factual information. My reports, even though I was not trying to be the first, were the first ever of this medicine's use, the frog, the collection, etc. So anyone claiming it prior to 1986 is just talking with no substantiation. Crazy, but true.

Unknown said...

Hello Mr. Gorman,

I have a question about my personal experience here in the States. I turned bright yellow like an emoji in my last 2 ceremonies; 6, then 8 points on my lower back. I also got very bad uterine contractions on my last ceremony. How does kambo effect the liver or gallbladder? Was mine underfunctioning hence the yellowing of my skin and eyes? I also felt resentment to the facilitator afterwards and have lost most of my femininity after that ceremony. Not much info online about kambo and yellowing of the skin. No one turned yellow but me. Thank you,

Alexandra said...

Yes it means your liver was under functioning hence the jaundice. Dont put points right by your liver on your lower back.