Both kambo and ayahuasca originate in the Amazon and are often used together in traditional spiritual practices.

Both kambo and ayahuasca originate in the Amazon and are often used together in traditional spiritual practices. Image Source: Flickr user CIFOR.

If you have first-hand experience with psychedelics, you know how important it is to be careful when mixing psychedelics. Once you feel comfortable with one substance, it’s natural to want to enhance and sharpen its effects with a second, complimentary substance. Unfortunately, when taken together, some psychedelics can have intense and unpredictable results that may result in challenging experiences and even put you in physical danger, especially when taken without professional guidance. But some psychedelic substances work quite well together—notably, ayahuasca and kambo.

Ayahuasca is most effective when taken after several days of physical preparation—including a special diet and abstaining from sex—and kambo can be a powerful tool to increase physical absorption of ayahuasca and prepare both mentally and emotionally for the experience. When offered together, kambo is usually given the day before or several hours prior to the ayahuasca ceremony. Sometimes, a practitioner will suggest two or more kambo sessions before an ayahuasca session to obtain peak results, but there will likely be several hours between your last kambo session and your ayahuasca ceremony. This allows the main effects of the kambo to subside and prevents the two substances from interacting negatively while still enhancing the effects of the ayahuasca.

Purging Your Digestive Tract for More Effective Absorption

Purging is a significant aspect of using both kambo and ayahuasca. With ayahuasca, though, it is often thought of as a side-effect or something endured during the initial phases of the experience in order to reach the peak. On the other hand, purging while using kambo is one of the main goals. And when kambo is used to purge your system before taking ayahuasca, it can increase the speed and efficacy of the absorption of ayahuasca, giving you a cleaner, more intense experience at a lower dosage.

Although kambo and ayahuasca both cause purging, kambo’s unique chemical makeup makes it more intense. The main peptide in kambo that causes purging is called phyllomedusin. It causes increased salivation and stimulates smooth muscles to contract, which causes vomiting and diarrhea. Throughout the process, you will likely vomit and use the bathroom several times. This will allow you to expel not only undigested food but also digestive juices such as bile. Bile, secreted by the liver, coats your digestive tract and aids digestion by breaking down fats and allowing them to be absorbed into the bloodstream. By getting rid of the bile in your stomach and intestines, your body doesn’t have a chance to reabsorb the toxins before they are expelled. This leaves your body ready to absorb and break down the chemicals in ayahuasca.

Since some people do not experience purging when they take ayahuasca or do not experience it until later in the ceremony, purging with kambo before taking ayahuasca can greatly change the experience. For one thing, the purging during the ayahuasca ceremony may be less intense so you are better able to concentrate on the psychological effects of the ayahuasca. It can also make you less likely to pass the tea through your digestive system and out of your body, making lower doses more efficient and allowing you to experience the physical and psychological effects of the ayahuasca sooner. This can give you or your practitioner greater control over your ayahuasca dose and can potentially lead to a safer, more manageable experience.

Increasing Circulation to Facilitate Crossing of the Blood-Brain Barrier

The peptides phyllomedusin and phyllokinin—both present in kambo— are potent blood vessel dilators. As the kambo begins to circulate through your body, your blood vessels will expand, allowing the peptides to cross over your blood-brain barrier more easily. Your blood vessels will remain dilated, and you will experience increased blood circulation for a short time after the treatment. If you take ayahuasca during this period, the active ingredients will reach your brain more quickly after you ingest the tea and more of the substance will cross over into your brain, increasing the effectiveness of the substance.

This increased effectiveness can give your practitioner greater control over your experience. Usually, there is a waiting period after you ingest the tea before you reach peak effects. The amount of time it takes before you begin feeling the effects depends on your personal chemistry. With more immediate results, your practitioner will be able to monitor the depth of your experience more closely and can make sure you have an experience at the level you are ready for. However, it is important that your practitioner is familiar with how kambo can interact with ayahuasca so that they lower your initial dose and prepare you for more immediate, intense results.  

Easing You Into Psychedelic Experiences

Kambo has a unique position in the world of psychedelics because it can cause a sense of emotional euphoria or well-being, but it does not cause hallucinations or non-ordinary states of consciousness. Ayahuasca, on the other hand, is more of a classic psychedelic in that it creates an obvious shift in your consciousness, changing the way you perceive the world for a short period of time. Because of these differences, kambo can be a useful introduction to the world of psychedelics and prepare you for a more psychologically intense ayahuasca experience.

If you have never experienced a classic psychedelic, it’s normal to feel a bit apprehensive. Taking kambo first can be a less intimidating introduction to psychedelics since your basic perception of the world will not be changed during your experience. For this reason, you may choose to try kambo several weeks or even months before you try ayahuasca. However, if you take kambo within 24 hours of taking ayahuasca, the euphoria and sense of wellness that kambo produces can help you feel more relaxed and open to the psychological benefits of an ayahuasca experience.

Creating Greater Awareness of Your Body Before a Psychedelic Treatment

For many people, one of the most important aspects of an ayahuasca ceremony is the blending of the spiritual and physical awareness. While some people prefer an inward journey that allows them to stop concentrating on their body in order to reflect on their mind and emotions, others find it helpful to connect intense mental and emotional thoughts with physical experiences. These people often have a desire to walk, dance, sing, chant, or otherwise express themselves physically while under the influence of ayahuasca. For those who prefer this type of psychedelic experience, kambo can help you become more aware of your body through its intense physical effects.

Besides purging, kambo produces other noticeable physical effects such as a flushing, tingling sensation in your limbs and face as well as slight swelling in your extremities and around your eyes. These physical sensations, experienced with your normal state of awareness, can help you become more aware of your body. At the same time, two of the peptides in kambo—caerulein and sauvagine—will stimulate your adrenal cortex. This can create heightened sensory perception and increased stamina and is why kambo was often used before a hunting trip. All these effects create an increased sense of your physical body which can, in turn, help you connect the spiritual ayahuasca experience with your physical existence.

Kambo and ayahuasca have been used together traditionally, and now more Western practitioners are beginning to understand the benefits of preparing your body with kambo shortly before an ayahuasca ceremony. Although both substances have benefits when used on their own, their effects can be heightened and controlled more carefully when they are used together. If you are interested in taking kambo before an ayahuasca ceremony, it is important to discuss your intentions with an experienced practitioner and make a plan that is both safe and effective.