Kambo and Plant Medicine
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How Kambo Frog and Plant Medicine Healed My Trauma for Solo Travel

CW: This post mentions eating disorders and sexual assault.

I never thought I would sit in a ceremony and allow someone to administer poisonous frog secretions into my arm. Let alone add burning plant medicine drops to my eyes and blow tobacco medicine up my nostrils. Yet, in July 2021 I found myself doing just that. Prior to July, I had tried everything to heal from previous traumas and fall in love with being alive – talk therapy, exercising, meditating, toxic positivity, traveling, and journaling. Those tools helped for a little while, but then I would find myself in the same cycle of anxiety and depression. I wanted to stop the cycle. So in July 2021, I had my first experience with frog and plant medicines kamborapéh, and sananga. Since then, my world has been cracked open!

What is Kambo?

If you have never heard of kambo, it’s okay. You’re in a safe space. I didn’t know what it was either until I started talking to my close friend and co-founder of The Ancestor Project, Charlotte about plant medicine in 2020. She explained that kambo is the poisonous secretion from an Amazonian frog. This is a form of medicine that does not have any psychoactive effect. Basically, it’s a medicinal substance that won’t make you trip or hallucinate.

During a kambo ceremony, you are given rapéh for grounding, an indigenous tobacco substance that is blown up your nostrils using a kuripe (see image above), sananga eye drops to facilitate opening your “sight,” and then the frog medicine. Once you are given kambo, the medicine travels through your body to find what needs to be purged for you to get well. After the medicine has assessed what needs to go, you purge. A lot. Fortunately, this is mostly water because you have to complete a dieta and drink 2 liters of water prior to receiving the medicine. It’s a 2-3 hour process and a lot for the body…but it’s worth it.

Using Kambo and plant medicine is ancestral.

In May 2021 I decided it was time to meet the “frog.” A friend and I scheduled a private ceremony to sit in a kambo initiation together on July 15th. That day changed my life. I am so glad I did not let my fear and ignorance of these medicines deter me from experiencing complete healing.

The combination of frog and plant medicine gave me a great return home. Using them in ceremony connected me to my ancestors and lineages. The Ancestor Project helped me unlearn my belief that these types of medicines were not for people like me. Through my research, I learned that many indigenous African nations on the continent and in the Caribbean have been using plant medicine since the beginning of time. I thought these medicines were only used by people at Burning Man and for recreational use by non-Black people. Yes, I was misinformed and small-minded, I admit that.

Adding to my miseducation, I am a PK – a Preacher’s Kid. I was born on a church pew to parents who indoctrinated me into not using anything but the Bible, faith, and prayer. Even though I left Christianity 14 years ago, the stigma of using plant medicine was still at the forefront of my mind. I am so glad Charlotte talked me out of my own way and supported my journey with frog and plant medicine.

Why I turned to kambo frog medicine

To most of the people in my circle, I looked fine. I would show up for every social gathering, travel solo here and there, practice yoga sometimes, and remain calm on the outside. On the inside was falling apart. I did not realize how much trauma I had been suppressing until I sat with kambo. Prior to that, I used talk therapy to pacify being a 3x survivor of sexual assault, being in recovery for an eating disorder, and experiencing racism while training people about racial equity. I was miserable, lonely, and hated my body. I tried raising my vibrations by practicing gratitude…that did not work. Channeling my energy into my writing and art also didn’t work. I became functionally depressed. I become even more depressed after June 25, 2021.

The final straw

At 11:00 am I decided to take a walk down North Charles Street in Baltimore. As I walked two blocks from my apartment, two men grabbed and tried to force me into their van. It all happened within seconds. I was able to make enough movement that they gave up and let me go. I assumed they gave up because they could not easily put me in the van without folks noticing. It was a busy street downtown on a sunny morning after all. I ran across the street to Streets Market and bought groceries I didn’t need just so I could breathe.

I was scared and re-triggered; standing in the produce section for several minutes, staring at cucumbers and fresh spinach. Then I moved to the bread section and then the pasta, maybe I need more linguine noodles and pesto? I was fumbling in my head and body. What just happened? I don’t remember what I bought but I left with two bags of groceries and proceeded to walk up North Charles Street.

The men and the van were gone.

Upon entering my apartment, I placed the groceries on the counter and went to my room. I had a panic attack and completely broke down. Fortunately, I called a friend in St. Louis, Missouri who stayed on the phone with me and told me how to take care of myself. After June 25th, I stayed inside until July 15th. I had everything delivered and stopped hanging out. I was more afraid of men, being in Baltimore, and being seen. My body would freeze at the thought of having to step outside of my building. That changed immediately following my kambo ceremony on July 15th.

Frog and plant medicine removed trauma from my body

Honestly, I was skeptical of the kambo ceremony. Could one ceremony really change the trajectory of someone’s healing? Could this frog medicine remove trauma? Yes and yes. Kambo, rapéh, and sananga did both of those things for me. As soon as I left the ceremony and walked outside, I could tell that I was different. When I went back to my apartment, I was not the same person. I could not understand why until after my integration period. The truth is I no longer have trauma memories in my body! I went into the ceremony wanting to release my fear, sexual assaults, and eating disorder so that I could finally embrace the beauty of who I am. When I purged in that bucket, I released all of that and more.

Unlike talk therapy, the emotional cycle did not return after kambo. Even my therapist stopped working with me once I told her about using plant medicine. She could tell that I had stopped recycling my traumas. I didn’t need to do that anymore. Today, I can mentally remember every traumatic thing that has happened in the past. However, my body does not react to those memories anymore. I can walk anywhere and be who I am without being triggered. Kambo and plant medicine opened me up to the possibility of being a solo traveling nomad. They are the reason I started Writer in the Tub and continue to live a slow life with joy.

If you are interested in healing, I cannot recommend The Ancestor Project enough! If you use plant medicine, share in the comments.

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