The website Kambo Medicina claims that Kambo, the poison derived from the poison from the Giant Monkey Frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) is

one of the strongest natural antibiotics and anesthetics found in the world and one of the strongest, natural ways to empower our immune system

Is it true that it is a powerful antibiotic?

  • 2
    The website appears to be a rather shady-looking "alternative medicine" service. Can you link to a more reputable and notable source? – March Ho Jan 19 '16 at 13:32
  • 6
    @MarchHo: And take away our raison d'être? – Oddthinking Jan 19 '16 at 14:55
  • The description on that site of the traditional use makes it sound terrible, in so many varied ways. I'm not sure which one scares me more. Wikipedia has a list of references for possible uses of dermaseptin. – Dan Getz Jan 19 '16 at 17:02
  • 10
    A poison that's a strong antibiotic? Hm. Sulphuric acid is antibiotic, too... – leftaroundabout Jan 24 '16 at 21:07
  • What is the definition of "strong"? Are we talking efficacy in small doses or efficacy agains a wide range of bacterial species? Those are very different ideas as is efficacy agains bacteria while not killing the host organism. – matt_black Apr 7 '16 at 14:29

Claim #1: The claim that Kambo, the substance derived from the secretions of Giant Monkey Frog (Phyllomedusa bicolor) is one of the strongest natural antibiotics is debatable since the dried secretions are not known to produce the same effects as the isolated biopeptides.

Antibiotics are microbial substances that tend to kill other microorganisms or inhibit their growth through bacteriostatic or bacteriocidal effects.

An ANTIBIOTIC is a low molecular substance produced by a microorganism that at a low concentration inhibits or kills other microorganisms. Source: Antimicrobials.

Selective toxicity is noted to be an important characteristic to judge a good antibiotic.

Any compound used to treat an infectious disease must be harmful to the parasites but not to host cells. This is in essence the principle of Paul Ehrlich's "magic bullet". Selective toxicity distinguishes an antibiotic which only attacks bacteria, from disinfectants and antiseptics which harm both bacteria and host cells. Source:Characteristics of Antibiotics

Evidence in support that Kambo is a powerful antibiotic

  1. The Phyllomedusa genus to which the South American Giant Monkey Frog belongs is known to produce biopeptides from the skin secretions which are used in development of new anti-infection drugs.

Research groups on bioactive peptides in Brazil using these new technologies, accounted for the exponential increase of new molecules described in the last decade, much higher than in any previous decades. Recently, these secretions were also reported as a rich source of multiple antimicrobial peptides effective against multidrug resistant strains of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and virus, providing instructive lessons for the development of new and more efficient nanotechnological-based therapies for infectious diseases treatment. Therefore, novel drugs arising from the identification and analysis of bioactive peptides from South American anuran biodiversity have a promising future role on nanobiotechnology. Source: Antimicrobial peptides from Phyllomedusa frogs

  1. Antimicrobial peptides such as Dermaseptin derived from Phyllomedusa bicolor have been studied for potential to act both as an antitumor and mitogenic agent.

Dermaseptin (Drs) B2 is an AMP identified from the skin secretion of the Amazonian tree frog; Phyllomedusa bicolor had both antitumour and angiostatic activities against prostate adenocarcinoma cell line, PC3 in a xenograft model in vivo. Source: Antimicrobial Peptides: Versatile Biological Properties

  1. Dermatoxin is also noted to be present in the skin secretion of Phyllomedusa bicolor.

The skin secretions of five phyllomedusine frogs (A. annae, A. dacnicolor, P. bicolor, P. sauvagii, P. tarsius) each contain a single dermatoxin ([6,42,251]; GenBank P84928), with more than 50% of the 30-mer primary structure being conserved across the family. Source: The diversity and evolution of anuran skin peptides

  1. SPYY an antifungal compound is also noted to be produced in the skin secretion of Phyllomedusa bicolor.

Another South American tree frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor, produces Skin-PYY (SPYY), an antifungal compound closely related to NPY, a neuropeptide, and PYY, a gastrointestinal tract peptide. Source: Antifungal peptides.

Evidence against the good antibiotic claim of Kambo

  1. The use of Kambo is cautioned against the possibility of infection of the wounds which is certainly not a characteristic of an ideal antibiotic which should have selective toxicity.

The beneficial effects are not scientifically proven in randomized controlled trials, so the healing effect may be just a placebo effect. The dried secretions of Phyllomedusa bicolor on wooden sticks are commercially available as “Kambô sticks” and are sold on markets and on the internet. Therefore, we want to inform doctors worldwide about the ritual of Kambô or Sapo as it is a type of voluntary envenomation. The ritual has no proven beneficial effects and no known influence on the long-term health of the person, but caution is required due to the toxicological aspects of the bioactive peptides and the possibility of infection of the wounds. Source: Phyllomedusa bicolor skin secretion and the Kambô ritual

  1. Calcitonin gene related peptide from the skin of Phyllomedusa bicolor is noted to the most potent CGRP of all reported species in nature.

In a recent study, comparisons were made between CGRP present in the skin of the frog species Phyllomedusa bicolor (pbCGRP) and humans using multiple cell types. In terms of the binding affinity to C-terminus, fragments of the frog CGRP (8-37 and 27-37) were much more potent than the human fragments (8-37 and 27-37). In addition, the antagonistic properties of frog CGRPs were much greater than human CGRPs at the CCRP-1 receptor. Thus, pbCGRP8-37 of Phyllomedusa bicolor currently exists as the most potent CGRP-1 competitive antagonist of all reported species in nature.

However, calcitonin gene related peptide are actually noted to be related to migraine and other primary headache disorders. It is also studied for application in pathologic and pain syndromes.

Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is linked to migraine and other primary headache disorders. It is found in every location described in migraine genesis and processing, including meninges, trigeminal ganglion, trigeminocervical complex, brainstem nuclei, and cortex. Source: Clinical and Preclinical Rationale for CGRP-Receptor Antagonists

Claim #2: The claim that Kambo secretion mixture is one of the strongest anesthetics found in the world is only partly true due to the presence of opioid peptides such as Deltorphin and Dermorphin produced endogenously by the South American frogs through their skin secretions.

Deltorphin is one of the highest affinity and most selective naturally occurring opioid peptides known to man. It is produced in the skin of frogs belonging to the genus Phyllomedusa such as P. bicolor and P. sauvagei which explains that this is not specifically produced by the Giant Monkey Frog.

Finally, a fourth family of opioid peptides was shown to be present in the skin of the frog Phyllomedusa bicolor. These peptides, now known collectively as deltorphins, are quite unusual; they contain D-amino acids. The first such species characterized had the sequence Tyr-D-Met-Phe-His-Leu-MetAsp-NH2. Source: A brief history of opiates, opioid peptides, and opioid receptors

Dermorphins are natural opioids first isolated from the skin of South American frogs belonging to the genus Phyllomedusa. Dermorphins are noted to be illegally used in horse racing so that the race horses could race faster with no pain.

Dermorphins are 40 times more powerful than the pain-killer morphine, and such components of ‘sapo’ contribute to the Matsés heightened senses and abilities to run quickly without pain, making them better hunters. In the gallery above, explore more about these frogs including secretion collection by our team and Matsés peoples from Peruvian Amazon rainforests. Source: Science and magic from a Giant amazon treefrog

Another source here attributes dermorphins to the skin of waxy monkey tree frog (Phyllomedusa sauvagei).

However, pharmacological studies of the excretions of Phyllomedusa bicolor shows that the central effects might be due to the potently active peptides, easily absorbed through the inflamed areas in the skin.

All the peripheral and most of the central effects of the secretion – including tachycardia, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and sedation – are provoked by the high content of active peptides. These peptides include phyllocaerulein (hypotensive neuropeptide), phyllomedusin (a tachykinin which excite neurons, evokes behavioral responses, contracts smooth muscles and is a potent vasodilator and secretagogue), phyllokinin (induces relaxation of arterial smooth muscle by targeting bradykinin receptors), dermorphins (opiate-like activity) and deltorphins (opiate-like activity) Source: Phyllomedusa bicolor skin secretion and the Kambô ritual.

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .