ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, PART 2.

Welcome to part 2 of our Alternative Therapies Blog series and ladies and gentlemen I present to you… KAMBO!!




Let's get the technical bit out of the way before I talk about my own, lived experience. Of which there have now been 2 occasions with a 3rd on the horizon. Safe to say this is something I have found great mental relief and value in, even at £120 a session which last about 2 hours.


Kambo is a healing ritual that’s been used by the Amazonian Natives for many years. The ceremony is named after the poisonous secretions of the Giant Monkey Frog or (and please say this in your head using David Attenborough’s soft tones) the Phyllomedusa Bicolor.


I’d like to state that no frogs were harmed during the making of my ceremony, the natives respect them and they are released after the collection of the secretion.



My actual words to my partner were ‘I think I’ve found a cure for OCD’.


MY EXPERIENCE (and wasn’t it just that!)


I found someone that works with 3 Tribes in the Amazon and that delivers Kambo in a safe and traditional way. There was a pretty hefty medical questionnaire prior with directions of what and what not do before the ceremony.


For example, I had to refrain from alcohol and other substances 48 hours before, fairly easy for someone sober, and I had to fast by not eating any food 12 hours before.

There’s a course and qualification my guide has completed to perform these ceremonies alongside the close to source contacts. Let’s face it, you cant exactly DM your Amazonian pal and say ‘hey brother, send me some of that Frog stuff’ and I’d be pretty disappointed if they had phones in the Jungle.


The Kambo is sent on wood bark, melted and once in liquid form only good for a short period of time.


I enter a room that’s exactly as I'd hoped. Buddha statues, soft music, ornaments form around the globe carved from wood, a truly relaxing safe space. If I had turned up and it was being dished out behind the bins (because that’s where all good drug deals and hand jobs are generally received) I had my ‘left the iron on’ exit strategy good to go.


Alongside this ambient and tranquil space I was greeted by an amazing, knowledgeable and kind hearted soul who immediately put my mind at rest so I instantly knew I was in safe hands.


The being sick was a relief, I welcomed it and went with it. Nothing distressing and in fact I’d go as far to say enjoyable. If I could trust pilot this sickness experience it would have 5 stars with the review ‘Holistic, calming, welcoming. Would visit again’.

There was a full explanation of what to expect but ultimately surrender to the process and let the medicine heal whatever it needs to, physically and mentally.

I then had to drink 2 litres of water in 15 minutes, this concerned me as at the age of 41 and now going for 3+ pisses in the night it’s safe to say I’ve got the bladder of an old water balloon.


Next came the burning. Yes that’s right, burning. More off a scold really as this is how the frog secretion enters the lymphatic system – strangely I hadn’t considered how it was administered but again being a drug addict in recovery I was down for whatever. Apart from it being blown up my bum, I couldn’t subject anyone to making eye contact with my winking balloon knot, far too awkward.





After deciding where I was going to be branded with 3 small burns (called points) the frog secretion was smeared onto the first scald. As it’s my first time he went easy on me by applying the first point and waiting a little to make sure I didn’t react badly. Then the other 2 points were dipped with the medicine.


And we wait.


Have you ever done poppers, or for the younger readers balloons? It’s like that but without the headache or falling over. A warm glow radiates up and around your body, almost like the medicine is scanning your living being for areas to heal.


This lasted about 10 minutes. I’m very aware that the purging is imminent and I’m poised over my personal sick bucket with tissue in hand. But nothing? Where’s my purge, do I get my money back if it doesn’t happen? Where’s this stream of evil and toxins that should come flooding out of me?


Bleeeerrrrgggghhhh!

Ah. There it is.


For the next 10 minutes or so in the most humble, undignified way I’m on all fours filling the bucket with fluid. I want to be clear on this as I’m making it out to sound awful. It’s not that Saturday night, 10 doubles with shots, stag do/hen night gone too far, takeaway at the end kinda sick. No chunks, no heaving, no straining. I now see the purpose of the fasted state and 2 litres of water.





The being sick was a relief, I welcomed it and went with it. Nothing distressing and in fact I’d go as far to say enjoyable. If I could trust pilot this sickness experience it would have 5 stars with the review ‘Holistic, calming, welcoming. Would visit again’.


After the purge I’m invited to lie down on a comfy matt with a blanket over me and I had the most chilled nap listening to the soft sounds playing in the background. The music sounded clear and crisp and my head was serene. No noisy internal dialogue analysing every threat and thought, just in my own head alone – a place I have feared the most. No longer a battle ground of confusion.





The Shaman covered some aftercare questions with me ensuring I was ok to drive and go about my day, making sure I was happy, healthy and safe.


Thankfully not knowing what to expect I had booked the day off. I say thankfully not because I was in no fit state but because I had the most blissed out day doing every day tasks, visiting usual places. Everything seemed to have a beautiful resonance about it. I went for a walk, I looked at the trees, I appreciated the here and now and saw the freshness of the world for what seemed like the first time.


My actual words to my partner were ‘I think I’ve found a cure for OCD’.


I never believed I’d ever say that, being in recovery with a mental illness I’d never consider I could be ‘cured’. I’d settle for ‘in recovery’ and what I mean by that is if I do the stuff I need to, take my meds, avoid the stuff that fucks me up then it makes for some days when I hardly notice I’ve got OCD. 2 weeks this reprieve lasted, 2 weeks of a calmness that I can safely say I’d NEVER experienced before.


Of course I booked again, I’m going to be doing this once per month this year and it’s a solid part of my arsenal of weaponry against my biggest and most feared enemy, my own distorted mind.


The second session we went full on and had 4 points all delivered at the same time. Remember the scene in The Exorcist when the possessed girls head is spinning round and the vomit is projectile? Yeah, it was a bit like that. But in a good way.


Big respect mental health legends.

Peace, love and puking.


 

If you haven't read part one, you can read it here: https://www.wearehummingbird.com/post/alternative-therapies-for-your-mental-health-part-1