Updated: 3 days ago
Since both Kambo (frog-medicine) and Bufo (toad-medicine) are amphibians, people often get confused which is which, and what does what. Both have tremendous unique healing capacity, yet they differ significantly from one another in their form and function. Knowing the difference and understanding how these medicine work will help you decide which medicine to work with, why, and when.
Photo credit: Ruysen Flores, Pucallpa Peru
The Common Thread
Before going into their (vast) differences I'd like to shine light on their similarity. We are all light. At the centre of our Being we are divine love, perfectly whole and complete, like the sun that shines in the sky. Part of the human experience is that we forget, as we collect painful life experiences, store unprocessed emotions, take on negative beliefs, accumulate physical toxins, acquire pathogenic infections, and exchange our radiance for inflammation, forgetting our perfection. Our once clear sky with the perfect view of our inner light has become clouded. Millenia of dust collected on our collective metaphorical lamp. It's dark and we're lost, but not because the light doesn't shine. The sun has not gone astray.
The term made popular by yoga,"Namaste", means: "The light within me sees and acknowledges the light within you." The similarity between kambo, bufo, (and all plant medicines really), is that they help clear the clouds that have blocked the way so that you can reunite with the light that is the true you. How you choose to clear the way, is up to you. All these medicines have their unique pathways that lead you to the same place- YOU!
Kambo = Frog that lives up in the trees Origin: Amazon Rainforest Effects: Purgative, Cleansing, Grounding, Nervous System Regulation, Holistic Well-Being Active Compounds: Cocktail of peptides: adenoregulin, dermorphin, dermaseptin, phyllokinin, tryptophyllins, and many others. Bufo = Toad that lives underground in the dessert Origin: Northwestern Mexico & Southwestern United States. Effects: Potent Psychedelic, Dissociative, Ego Dissolution, Spiritual Connection Active Compounds: 5-MeO-DMT, along with 17 different tryptamines and alkaloids Kambo is a non-hallucinogenic medicine that comes from the Amazonian rainforest from the frog known as Phyllomedusa bicolor. It is the secretion that is collected directly from the surface of the frog's skin that is used in a session to induce a purge for deep cellular detox, nervous system regulation, and spiritual attunement. It's applied through small burn marks on your skin where it enters the body through the lymphatic system. This medicine has been traditionally used for over 800 years amongst the tribes of the Amazon. They call kambo "the vaccine of the forest," using it to treat all sorts of ailments from fever, malaria, and snake bites, for fertility and hunting.
Bufo, on the other hand, is a potent psychedelic that comes from a toad, also known as Bufo alvarius or the Sonoran Desert toad/Colorado River toad. The toad lives underground for 9 months out of the year. Secretion is harvested from the gland within it's skin which is then dried and smoked to offer a potent psychedelic experience. To date it is the strongest psychoactive substance known due to it's 5-MeO-DMT content. **Not to be confused with it's cousin NN-DMT, commonly referred to as "DMT", the effects of 5-MeO-DMT are completely different.
The origins of Bufo are a bit more mysterious, there is no tracked traditional record of it's use amongst the Comcaac people of the Baja area in Mexico. However, anthropologists have long speculated that ancient peoples of Mesoamerica used bufo as there are many iconographic and mythological representations of toads found in that area. Perhaps it has been kept secret amongst the tribes all along?
In 1983 a pamphlet popped up explaining the toad, it's effects, and how to smoke it.: ‘BUFO ALVARIUS: THE PSYCHEDELIC TOAD OF THE SONORAN DESERT’, published under the pseudonym ‘Albert Most’.
The Effects & Benefits
This frog medicine is known for its purgative effects as it often makes you vomit. Many people think its “poison”, and that’s why you are vomiting. That’s not accurate. It’s more akin to a true holistic medicine which happens to contain a peptide that stimulates vomiting (and for good reason, more on this below).
Don't be fooled by it's unpleasant exterior effects. What's happening on a molecular level is astonishing and it’s because of it’s peptides. Let’s take a look.
Kambo Peptides Peptides are the chemical messengers in your body, you can look at them as the “language of the body”. For example you have cortisol, serotonin, oxytocin– these are all peptides. Kambo happens to speak our language! When it’s peptides enter your body, they stimulate beneficial reactions that foster well-being on all levels: physcial, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
The spirit of Kambo reminds your body how to heal itself. Essentially these peptides are reminding your body how to return to homeostasis, come back into balance, while activating the innate healer within each cell.
Kambo invites the cells in your body to release their deeply seated toxins, the liver and gall bladder also release their bile (where toxins are stored) into the stomach, and then kambo encourages your body to release it, often through vomiting. A kambo experience is often 15-40 minutes long. During this time you feel dis-regulated and ill, like a flu or food poisoning. You're hot, your cold. You're nauseas and weak. You may experience some cramping, and at one point you may vomit, sweat, poop, or even cry. (Sounds fun?!) Kambo is stirring your sh*t up and teaching you how to let it go!
Emotional Healing Along with these physical toxins, you also release emotional your emotional baggage.
In the Amazonian tradition, it is said that Kambo helps you clear panema– dark or negative energy, that is at the root of disease.
I like to view panema as our suppressed and repressed emotions, and unprocessed painful life experiences (trauma). These energies get stuck in the body and weigh us down. These energies are trapped in our cells, tissues, muscles, and nervous system.
As panama builds up in the body you can experience muscles tension, physical pain, depression, fatigue, apathy, anxiety, gut issues, insomnia, PTSD, and when it builds up over the years it can lead to dozens of chronic diseases and autoimmune conditions.
When panema/trauma is cleared the body heals itself, life becomes easier, obstacles become obsolete, and one is able to live harmoniously within the flow of life.
Physical & Mental Healing Kambo brings down inflammation, it has shown to be 40x stronger than morphine for pain reduction. Inflammation in the body can cause inflammation in the brain, both of which can be experienced as depression and fatigue.
Kambo helps to balance your hormones and neurotransmitters, which helps to regulate your mood and energy levels and supports you in breaking unhealthy behaviour patterns and overcoming addictions.
And lastly kambo has potent infection fighting properties. Many of us have hidden gut infections that contribute to our uneasy-ness; pathogenic parasites, bacteria, viruses, and fungus living in our gut directly influence your subconscious mind. With a silent chronic gut infection, you may not have digestive issues per say, but it may show up as pessimistic thoughts, anxiety, teeth grinding, exhaustion, inability to cope with stress. (And much more, this could be it's own article.)
Kambo is one of the most effective remedies for infection that I've seen to date, so much so that people who suffer from Lyme Disease and MS have turned to it for help and found tremendous benefit to full recovery.
The peptides in kambo are so potent that 70 patents have been lodged on them in the US alone. They hold potent antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial, and analgesic properties. These peptides have been studied for their potential to strengthen the immune system, regulate inflammation, and even contribute to the destruction of cancer cells.
Bufo’s active component, 5-MeO-DMT, has been given the nick name of the "God Molecule" because it often, however not always, catalyzes a direct experience of God/Source/Divinity– a non-dual experience of ego disillusionment or merging with Source Consciousness.
It's incredibly fast acting as it crosses the blood brain barrier immediately upon smking. In larger doses this medicine is a dissociative, meaning you let go of your sense of self, identity, and of time and space. As the ego construct dissolves the veil of separation is lifted and the fundamental nature of reality can be revealed.
Bufo opens the gates to explore on the deepest levels of consciousness. The experience is indescribable, because it often takes you to a place where the mind and language don’t exists, to the space beneath all of reality made up of pure energy and vibration.
This rapturous state of realization has historically only been accessible to the rare mystic, sage, or saint down through the ages. If you look deep into the core of every religion and spiritual practice you will discover a unified purpose, which is to lead people towards union with the Infinite; a merging with God.
The yogis call this Samadhi, Buddhists call it Nirvana. With this goal at the very heart of every great spiritual path, 5-MeO-DMT has become known as the Crown Jewel or The God Molecule in the realm of entheogens.
This mystical experience can be deeply healing as it connects us to the core essence of our Being while temporary liberation from the confines of mental constructs, limiting beliefs, social conditioning, and stored trauma. Often this experience induces a rapid discharge of energetic blockages, which restructures the human system from the inside out. This beautiful and intense experience can grant a brand new perspective on identity, life, and reality itself, allowing one to break free from inhibiting beliefs and patterns that have plagued them for years and access their eternally liberated Infinite Self.
As the person has their experience on the level on pure consciousness, their body is left to discharge energy. Often times what their body does is not an accurate representation of what the person is experiencing feeling.
The person may roll around, scream, spit, shake, puke, pee, fart, get up and run. The person make go into fully ecstatic orgasm, rip their clothes off, scream in terror, or look you straight in the eyes and speak absurdities.
None of this really matters. It's simply energy leaving the body. And like I mentioned before, it often has nothing to do with the person's internal experience, and they often don't even realize they're doing it – they're exploring the deepest aspect of their consciousness and reality. One may be experiencing complete bliss but they look like they are screaming in terror. And on the other hand the person may be having a challenging fearful experience and laying completely still with a smile on their face. With all that trapped energy out of the system, one often is left feeling more spacious, expanded, and connected to Self.
In addition to its more esoteric and mystical effects, current research and anecdotal evidence shows great promise in the treatment of certain medical conditions including: depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD through the use of 5-MeO-DMT.
A word of caution..
It cannot be emphasized enough: this medicine should not be taken lightly. It is an extremely potent substance that has the potential to dramatically alter or disrupt a persons habitual way perceiving and behaving in the world. It could very likely be the most intense experience of someone's life, and everyone's experience and journey with this medicine is entirely unique.
When working with Bufo or 5meo-DMT, a loving “God experience” is never guaranteed.
Some who sit with this medicine experience absolute fear and terror. The experience can be deeply destabilizing to a persons life, in some cases causing months of psychosis, and in severe causes even suicide. Comprehensive preparation, facilitation, and integration is of paramount importance.
When To Work With Which?
When to work with Kambo:
PTSD, disassociation, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue: kambo is incredibly grounding and helps to regulate the nervous system so much so that I have had people with PTSD walk out of their first session feeling peace in their body for the first time in years. It has a unique ability to help clear trauma from the body without going into the story of it as with conventional therapy methods.
Physical Health: chronic disease/infection; candida, parasites, MS, Lyme disease, gut issues, endometriosis, eczema, autoimmune conditions, cancer, arthritis, hepatitis, viral infections, chronic pain, concussion recovery. They don't call kambo "the vaccine of the forest" for no reason.
Life transitions, rights of passage, spiritual attunement
Mental Clarity, focus, grounding, embodiment
General physical upkeep & energetic hygiene, seasonal cleanse and detox
When titrating off of SSRI's to prevent and remedy unwanted and dangerous withdrawal symptoms - with an advanced practitioner for proper protocol.
Before a psychedelic journey to help prepare your inner landscape; the plant medicines can work on deeper levels of your Being after kambo. Note: Kambo thins the blood brain barrier so much so that the plant medicine dose may be stronger. Commonly used before Iboga and Ayahuasca to reduce the purging that often accompanies those medicines.
When to work with Bufo:
PTSD, depression, anxiety: Some studies suggest that 5-MeO-DMT can improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, providing a lasting mood improvement after the experience.
Spiritual development & connection: to catalyze life-changes, break deeply seated patterns, change outlook on life, deepen existing spiritual practice and understanding of reality.
Trauma resolution: The intense emotional release during the experience has been described as therapeutic, potentially resolving past emotional and psychological trauma. **Always with the assistance of a professional psychiatric support who understands how psychedelics work to help you prepare and integrate
Integration As An Honoring
As these medicines help to clear the clouds that obscure your light and reconnect you with your true nature, it is up to you to sweep away the clouds that will inevitable come again.
That's one of the roles of integration; to embody the insights you received from you journey. Remember that these are animal medicines; a living creature has literally given medicine off of it's back for you to receive healing. If you choose to work with these potent medicines do your part of honouring these sacred beings and integrate.
Working With These Medicines
If you'd like to work with either of these medicines, feel free to reach out to me.
I offer group kambo session multiple times a month and private sessions by request.
You can check for upcoming sessions on >> our events calendar
If you'd like to work with bufo or with the pure molecule (5meo-DMT), I work primarily 1:1. Blessings, Aga Postawska