How to Choose a Kambo Practitioner
Choosing a practitioner that is right for you is a critical decision that can make all the difference in what you get out of your kambo session. There are many reckless, negligent and inexperienced practitioners offering kambo. Be sure to do thorough research on a practitioner before deciding to do a ceremony with them. Remember, your safety and wellbeing is in their hands. Make sure you can trust this person with your life. Below are some important things to consider when evaluating if a practitioner is a good fit for you.
Screening process and safety protocols
Your practitioner should do a medical screening and ask you about any past or current health conditions as well as the medications you are taking. If your practitioner does not ask you for any of this information, this is a sign that you should not sit in a ceremony with them.
Be sure to ask a potential practitioner what their water drinking protocols are and what safety protocols they have in place. Do they perform a test point? Do they let people walk to the bathroom alone, or require assistance walking to the bathroom? Do they know how to move someone into the recovery position if they do faint? Again, if they don’t have any concern about monitoring water drinking, or requiring assistance to the bathroom, you might want to reconsider and go with a practitioner who takes more serious safety precautions.
Make sure that your practitioner will perform a test point on you if it is your first time receiving kambo. A test point is when you add one point of Kambo before applying a full dose to make sure that there will not be a rare adverse reaction from the individual. Once someone has safely received kambo, there is generally no need for a test point in following sessions. A test-point should be a standard safety protocol that every qualified practitioner should perform.
Practitioner’s skill and experience
There is a wide range of practitioners’ experience, from brand new to well seasoned. Newer practitioners are best for serving healthy individuals with no complicated health conditions or psychological problems. Depending on the state of your health and your comfortability navigating challenging experiences, you may need a more experienced practitioner to serve your needs.
Some practitioners may have areas of expertise and specialize in offering specific types of support. For example, there might be a practitioner that has more experience with Lyme disease and chronic illnesses that is more suited for someone who has Lyme disease. Some practitioners may be experienced with helping people wean off of opiates or helping people overcome addiction using kambo. A practitioner who is also a Chinese medicine GP may be able to offer complementary support with herbs and acupuncture. Depending on what your needs are, there are many practitioners that offer different specialities that may be more or less suited for you.
While certification is not required for someone to be a quality practitioner, going with a certified practitioner can at least give some peace of mind that they have been formally trained in specific safety protocols and are being held accountable by an organization. Organizations such as Kambo International and the International Association of Kambo practitioners train and certify practitioners to ensure safety precautions and ethical guidelines are being implemented. It may also be a good idea to ask if your practitioner is trained in CPR in the case of an emergency.
Every practitioner has a unique way of conducting a ceremony, and no two ceremonies are the same. Some may sing songs and play instruments. Others may provide words of encouragement or read poems. Some may involve an intention setting ritual, while others may lack any sort of ritual at all. One of the cool things about ceremonies is that no two are identical and they are pieces of art within themselves.
Set and setting
The set and setting of a kambo session is extremely important for allowing the participant to feel safe and comfortable while in a vulnerable state. Feeling secure and properly looked after can make or break a kambo session for someone, so it is crucial that you feel physically and emotionally safe in the space. If the ceremony feels disorganized and the practitioner seems distracted, inattentive or ungrounded, follow your intuition and remove yourself from participating if you do not feel safe. Your practitioner should make you feel attended to, cared about and heard.
Private or group?
Practitioners may offer private or group sessions. Some people prefer to do individual one-on-one sessions with a practitioner so that they can focus on doing deep and being vulnerable in their process. Some people feel uncomfortable with the idea of vomiting in front of others or allowing themself to express their emotions freely. One advantage of receiving a private session is that you get the practitioners full attention throughout the entire session.
Group ceremonies have a different energy to private sessions, and can actually be very enjoyable for some people. Many participants report that they feel a sense of unity and communion with the other participants and that being in that space together reminds them they are not alone and gives them strength to get through the process. When lead properly, a group ceremony can really leverage the power of community healing and support. The disadvantage of a group ceremony is that one might keep their guard up more and struggle to fully surrender to the experience, as well as receiving less individual attention from the practitioner.
Traditional vs Western?
There is often debate about whether you should have a traditional indigenous practitioner or a western practitioner lead your experience. It’s important to remember, as mentioned earlier, that ceremony was not a traditional part of receiving kambo until native peoples starting offering the experience to westerners. So in a sense, nothing about a ceremony is traditional. It’s all made up to please westerners. The inclusion of ceremony can offer a lot of value though, so in some sense, the westernization of kambo offers additional benefits to westerners that are participating in it.
Western practitioners may be more equipped to address western-related health conditions such as depression, autoimmune diseases, and metabolic issues more than a traditional practitioner. In the amazon, pharmaceutical drugs and these types of health conditions are not common. Therefore, they may not be fully considered when gaging how to approach a kambo session on someone.
Some believe that the kambo point placement is important to adhere to the tradition of applying on women’s lower right leg and applying to men’s upper left arm. These traditional locations vary from tribe to tribe, so again, the term traditional is somewhat arbitrary unless you are referring to a specific group of people or practice.
While there is much wisdom that can come from traditional practitioners, traditional is not always better. It is important to consider the needs of the recipient, and if modern adaptations are appropriate for the context of the kambo application.
Dosage of kambo can vary widely between individuals, practitioners and even sessions. Some practitioners like to work with low-doses because they may have more sensitive client populations, such as those with chronic illnesses. Others may apply higher doses because they cater to rite-of-passage types of experiences in healthy individuals. Typically a first-time dose is approximately 3 points. Now, mind you, the size of a burn or “point” varies considerably and is related to the diameter and surface area of the burn where the kambo is applied. Given the lack of standardized size of burn stick or burn technique, the size of the “gate” can be highly variable, letting in unknown quantities of kambo into the bloodstream.
Another challenge with standardizing dosage is that each stick of kambo is also unique. Because multiple frogs contribute to even one stick of kambo, there is a high diversity of peptide profiles, which can result in different potencies and physiological outcomes. One frog may have a higher density of certain peptides over others, creating an unpredictable effect. Even the same frog may have different concentrations of peptides in various glands located on the body. For example, tibial glands on the legs of the frog have more potency than glands near the arms or head.
For these reasons, the dosage is somewhat arbitrary. None the less, we do our best to gage a dosage based on the number of points a practitioner administers. Discuss with your practitioner how many points they typically apply and come up with a number that will seem like the right fit for you.
Questions you should ask your practitioner before signing up
- How long have you been serving Kambo?
- With whom did you do your training?
- Are you certified with any kambo organization?
- Do you perform a test point?
- Do you require an in depth medical history?
- Do you escort people to the bathroom during ceremony?
- What are your water drinking protocols?
- Do you know how to move someone who has fainted into the recovery position?
- Are you CPR trained?
- Have you ever had an emergency adverse event or hospitalization of a client?
Red flags to watch out for
- The practitioner tells you to drink excessive amounts of water before the ceremony
- The practitioner does not perform a test point
- The practitioner does not take a medical history
- The practitioner does not ask you if you are taking any drugs or medications
- The practitioner does not have someone escort people to the bathroom
- The practitioner does not have the patience answer your questions
- The practitioner does not make you feel safe
- The practitioner seems distracted, ungrounded or negligent.
The practitioner you choose has tremendous influence on the outcome of your kambo experience. Be sure to choose wisely. Remember, you always have the right to refuse to participate in a ceremony if something doesn’t feel right. When it comes to your health and safety, you have every right to be picky. Your practitioner should be able to answer your questions and allow you to feel safe in their care.