Planning around activities that cause discomfort, altering clothes to avoid seams, fostering friendships with people who understand when you cancel last minute— these all become normal when you have chronic pain. When the pain is less, you try to get things done and enjoy your life as much as possible. When the pain is greater, you simply try to survive the day.
For hopeful chronic pain sufferers, kambo may seem like a magic bullet with the potential to completely stop the pain you have felt for too long. But it’s important to realize that kambo is not necessarily a cure but rather another tool that can maximize the good days. Educating yourself and approaching kambo with a thorough, realistic understanding of how it treats chronic pain will allow you to make the most of its healing qualities.
Understanding the Potential Risks
Kambo is safe for most people, but there is a possibility that kambo may interact poorly with the underlying cause of your pain or the current medication you are using to manage it. Kambo causes a brief period of increased heart rate, which can be problematic if you have circulatory or heart problems such as low blood pressure or a history of heart attacks. If you suffer from chronic pain due to Addison’s disease, the physical stress of a kambo ceremony could cause adrenal crisis. Kambo stimulates your immune system, so if your pain is caused by an immune system disorder such as MS or ALS, you should be cautious about taking this substance.
To make sure it is safe for you to take kambo, you should discuss the medicine with your treating physician. Because kambo is not a Western medicine, it is possible your doctor will not be familiar with it, so be prepared to discuss common contraindications and whether you expect any problems. You should also be honest with your kambo practitioner about any medications you are currently taking as well as any chronic illnesses you suffer from. Your practitioner may suggest urge adjustments to the traditional ceremony or your daily behaviors to accommodate your needs. For instance, you may be asked to not take pain medications on the day of your kambo ceremony or your practitioner may start you with a lower dose than normal to better gauge your reaction to the medicine. Ideally, you want to find a practitioner who has experience working with your specific illness or issue. If you live in the Bay Area, the staff at Psychedelic Times can help you find the best practitioner for your needs.
Exploring the Mind-Body Connection
All pain is complicated by psychological and social expectations, but chronic pain is more complicated than acute pain. Over time, the pain behaviors—grimacing, limping, taking pain medication, or being angry or stoic—may become habits which can actually magnify your discomfort. The depression and anxiety many people develop after years of chronic pain can cause you to anticipate pain you have not yet felt, making your body produce more stress hormones that exacerbate the situation. Working with a psychologist or therapist can help you reduce your current pain levels or manage your pain better.
Although kambo creates a more physical experience compared to classic psychedelics, it does produce a heightened state of awareness that can be useful in therapy. The purging process of kambo is a purifying experience which allows you to release negative emotions connected to your pain. After the ceremony, you may feel lighter, euphoric, and pain-free for several days. This is an excellent time to talk with a therapist and reframe the way you think about your pain.
Take Fewer Pain Relievers and Muscle Relaxers
Many chronic pain sufferers take pain relievers as a preventative measure. If this is your approach, you should prepare to switch to taking your medication only “as needed” after your ceremony. This shouldn’t be difficult, as you will likely find that your need for medication is greatly reduced for 1-2 weeks after their kambo ceremony, and you may notice a dramatic reduction for a longer period of time. But you will only be aware of these benefits if you are prepared to lower the amount of medication you are taking.
This can be unnerving if you have developed a fear of your pain or are dependent on pain relievers to complete everyday tasks, so you may want to discuss your plan with a therapist before the ceremony. It’s also a good idea to clear as much of your schedule as possible for the week after your kambo ceremony to concentrate on adjusting your medication to a reduced level of pain.
Combining Kambo With Other Forms of Traditional Medicine
Not only is kambo a powerful pain reliever, but it also increases blood flow, reduces inflammation, and improves digestion. This physical stimulation can help cure the deeper causes behind your pain, especially if your suffering is related to the reproductive system, spinal area, renal function, or digestion. For some people, a single kambo ceremony is enough to cure the underlying cause of their chronic pain. But for complex issues, kambo creates an ideal time to use other curative approaches. For instance, the increased blood flow and decreased inflammation can allow a chiropractor to make more efficient, helpful adjustments than they could otherwise make. It may also increase the efficiency of massage, acupuncture, or ayurvedic techniques of healing.
Create a Schedule for Multiple Doses
While some individuals’ chronic pain may completely disappear, others may experience only a slight reduction, or their pain may return over time. Because of this, you may want to repeat your kambo experience. Some practitioners offer kambo cycles, such as three ceremonies within 24 hours or three ceremonies within 28 days. These provide a more thorough cleansing of your system and longer pain relief. Alternatively, some people have found that monthly treatments or bi-weekly treatments at lower doses work best for them. After your first ceremony, you will have a better idea of how kambo affects your pain. You should then discuss setting a treatment schedule with your kambo practitioner.
Kambo is a powerful tool for managing chronic pain, but to get the most out of it, you need to have realistic expectations and work with professionals who have experience using kambo as a method for pain management. When you approach kambo with the intention of maximizing its pain relieving benefits through a multidisciplinary approach, you are much more likely to notice long-term, lasting pain relief from your practice.