Even seasoned enthusiasts find the experience grueling.
At its peak (or is it nadir?), subjects can find themselves projectile vomiting into plastic buckets for 15 to 40 minutes, or running to the bathroom with gastric distress. After the worst passes, they often peer into their buckets and analyze the color of the discharge to gauge the treatment’s effectiveness.
“In my last session I released some sticky yellow bile, as opposed to bile in a clear liquid, and it was really rough on my stomach,” said Jena la Flamme, 42, a sexual empowerment coach in Mill Valley, Calif., who has used kambo numerous times. “I’ve seen people turn sheet-white in their face during the ceremony.”
Emily Collins, 33, an operations manager at a robotics company in San Francisco, recalls feeling “an overwhelming sense of ‘I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to do this,’” during her first kambo treatment two years ago.
“It was 15 minutes that felt like four hours,” Ms. Collins, added.
“I feel like it’s a warrior medicine,” said Ms. la Flamme, who credits kambo with helping purge internalized anger from her divorce. “I feel like kambo is one of those things that give you superpower immunity. You kind of feel invincible from it.”
Ms. Collins recalls being skeptical when she first heard about kambo. “At first, my science brain thought this was hippie nonsense,” she said. But unable to overcome crippling migraines with conventional treatments, she went to a kambo practitioner named Steve Dumain in San Pablo, Calif. two years ago. Her kambo treatments with Mr. Dumain, a former fashion executive in New York, helped, she said: “I was up to about three migraines a month by the time I took kambo. After kambo, they went down to less than one.”
Another of Mr. Dumain’s clients, Andrew Styer, 42, a product developer for a Silicon Valley tech giant, used kambo to treat psychological pain.