The Brazilian Amazon rain forest is the habitat for amazing frogs that can give humans an interesting psychedelic effect. They are related to the bufo toad and known as Sapo frogs, giant leaf frogs, giant monkey frogs, or in scientific terms the phyllomedusin bicolor tree frog. This frog secretes venom that contains an abundance of biologically active compounds including 7 percent of opioid peptides. Opioid peptides contain dermophines (dermal morphine-like substances. According to Environmental Health Perspectives, these agents could be used in treating opiate addictions as well as other human disorders.
Between the borders of Colombia and Peru, there is a place called Tabatinga, Brazil. Some refer to this as the rainforest city. It is humid, full of vegetation, streets overrun with mopeds and motorcycles, and supposedly built by drug traffickers. Tabatinga has become the main entry point into Brazil for trafficking cocaine. From there, one must travel up the Amazon River for about three days to reach the specific habitat for the frogs. Brazilian Amazon Indians reside along this river and use this frog in Shamanistic rituals in order to prepare themselves for hunting.
These psychedelic frogs spread throughout the forests are not easy to find. When the tribal people want to retrieve one, they must walk into the deep, heavily vegetative forest at night because these frogs are nocturnal. The people listen for the frog to “sing” as they mimic its noise. Some say that the frogs’ song sounds like a combination between a chicken and a dog bark. It is a great victory when one is found.
This nocturnal amphibian is an amazingly big, beautiful, bright green and especially slow frog. When one is finally caught after the long journey into the forest seeking it, they bring it back to the village and prepare for the ritual. Depending on how they tie up the frog, horizontally or vertically, the men sharpen two to four stakes and post them into the ground. They tie the frogs’ arms and legs using grass rope as if it is about to be drawn and quartered. Then each limb is connected by the rope to each of the posts. Using small sticks, they jab the frog to encourage it to secrete the venom. Once it starts to give off a glossy jelly like substance, it is scraped off using a “kambo” stick and collected onto a wooden palate. After obtaining the amount of venom substantial to their liking, the frog is untied and released unharmed. This is so the tribe does not disappoint the animal spirits resulting in superstitious horrific misfortune.
The Amazon Indian tribal ritual utilizing the frogs psychedelic effect is ready to begin. Using a very hot stick that they had heated at the end, they then burn the man who the ritual is being performed on. They burn small circular wounds, usually on the arms or chest, and the venom is rubbed into it. First the feeling of a opiate high creeps slowly through the body, giving a feeling of calm. A drunken feeling occurs, as well as dissociation and loosing sensations in the limbs. Some describe the effects to be similar to those of 5-MeO-DMT, which is secreted from the bufo toad.The effect after become more sinister. The venom causes severe bowel movements, vomiting, and upset intestines for hours. After that has passed, what is left is a few hours of “dazing”, slight hallucinations, and then falling asleep. The amazing result, after hours of emptying out everything inside the body, is that when they wake up from their slumber, they feel rejuvenated and full of strength, ready for the days hunt.
By Brittany Varner-Miller