The Biological Effects of Kambo: Is There a Relationship Between its Administration and Sudden Death?

J Forensic Sci. 2018 May;63(3):965-968. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13641. Epub 2017 Sep 8.


Kambo is a substance obtained from the skin secretions of a frog, Phyllomedusa bicolor, popular in the Amazon region, which is administered via the transdermal route. We report a case of 42-year-old man found dead in his house. Near the corpse, a plastic box labeled as "Kambo sticks" was found. The man was a chronic consumer of Kambo and no previous pathology or genetic disease emerged in clinical history from the declaration of his general practitioner. Autopsy investigations and toxicological analysis were performed. The histopathological examination showed left ventricular hypertrophy. Toxicological screening was negative for ethanol and other drugs. Phyllocaerulein, phyllokinin, and deltorphin A were isolated from the Kambo sticks but, only deltorphin A was detected in blood sample. We describe the first forensic case of death associated with Kambo administration. We attempt to explain how its use could be related to the cause of sudden death in this case.

Keywords: Phyllomedusa bicolour; autopsy; drugs; forensic sciences; kambo; sudden death.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anura*
  • Ceremonial Behavior*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology
  • Coronary Vessels / pathology
  • Death, Sudden / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy, Left Ventricular / pathology
  • Male
  • Oligopeptides / blood*
  • Skin / metabolism


  • Oligopeptides
  • deltorphin