Frog poison medicine ‘kambo’ proponents ‘risking lives’
SERENITY-seeking Territorians are risking their lives by using a poison made from the secretions of an Amazonian tree frog to get high as they seek the "ultimate path to consciousness".
Participants ingest the poison through burns on their skin in "kambo circles" - pseudo-scientific gatherings led by an "advanced kambo practitioner".
The process - which is believed to have killed a woman in NSW last year - induces vomiting, but practitioners claim a raft of health benefits, including increased mental clarity, boosted energy and treatment of addiction and a number of afflictions.
Darwin kambo circles are openly advertised on Facebook through the group Kambo Warriors.
Reviews posted to the page are effusive in their praise.
One reviewer wrote the ceremony offered "an opportunity to connect deeply with self on the ultimate path to consciousness".
Photos posted to the page show smiling participants sitting on a lounge room floor, surrounded by bowls and kambo paraphernalia.
Repeated calls from the NT News to the page's administrator and "advanced kambo practitioner" were not returned.
Pharmacology and toxicology researcher at the University of Adelaide Ian Musgrave said the practice put the body under intense strain.
"People have died from this, and if you don't die, it puts the body through a significant physiological challenge," he said.
"A portion of young people have unrecognised heart problems. They should probably think twice about it.
"The purging involves vomiting, asphyxiation, urination, a significant fall in blood pressure - all involuntary. This is because the frog toxins are very potent neuropeptides."
While the chemicals do not invoke a psychedelic effect, Dr Musgrave said kambo toxins invoked a strong response.
"It's not psychedelic. It's an extreme form of a coffee enema if you like," he said.
A Top End Health spokesman said kambo carried "significant health risks, or even death".