This Amazonian frog's toxins have become part of latest cleansing trend

Although there's no research to support the claims, the use of "kambo" has been said to have supposed magical healing powers.
8:56 | 03/29/17

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Transcript for This Amazonian frog's toxins have become part of latest cleansing trend
And tonight we are on an adventure to the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. There you will find a frog whose poison is said to possess healing qualities. But the key word in that sentence is "Poison." So why are so many people going all this way to take all this risk? Here's ABC's Mariana van Zeller with the latest installment of our series "Into the wild." Reporter: In this other-worldly darkness of the Amazon the only thing one can be sure of is that you're being watched. All the sort of most dangerous creatures, the poisonous snakes, they all like to come out at night. Look, a fish just jumped into the boat. We've put ourselves at the mercy of the untamed wilderness. Whoo. In search of a fabled amazonian tree frog that has long been used by tribes here. We'll see how long it takes to find this frog. Now in high demand thousands of miles away in the hills of los Angeles, where ceremonies like this one have become the latest cleanse trend. Here these people are poisoning themselves with the toxins from that frog. So just remember the breath is your guide. Reporter: Called kambo or sapo it's applied to burned skin and absorbed into the bloodstream. Kambo is something very unknown. Reporter: This process is not for the faint of heart. You have to have a sense of courage to come here. Reporter: As you can hear. Throwing up. The effects of kambo. Reporter: Practitioners say it's worth it. I felt like superwoman. Reporter: Claiming the process can help cure depression, drug dependency, heart problems, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal issues. I believe everyone should go through this experience at least once in their life. You are basically putting the poison from a frog into your body and your system. Did that scare you at all? It did kind of scare me. But I kind of trusted something, my intuition. Reporter: Right now there's no research indicating benefits to human health, and it's not officially classified as a medicine. There is no regulation of this treatment by the fda or other authorities. Do you think there are any dangers associated with kambo? Like any medicine, if you take it and do it with no knowledge there is obviously more danger. Kambo requires a certain amount of preparation. I would say it's not wise to do kambo if you have not done it before alone. Reporter: Kambo is legal in the U.S., and the people here seem to think it's working. So we decided to travel to where this ancient process began. To the Amazon rainforest to see if we could actually find the creature at the center of this craze. It was a very early morning. We woke up at 5:00 A.M., took a two-hour bus ride, and then another 2 1/2-hour boat ride, and now we're here in the middle of the Amazon, taking this motorized canoe another two hours up river to the campsite. Gracias. ??? this is the dry season. So we have to take the long way around the river to get to the campsite. But now he's saying that 90% of the tourists that he brings out here are coming to look for the Amazon's medicine, and he's saying recently they're looking for the frog. So we're going into one of these little shortcuts, these little tributaries. There are thousands of these little tributaries all around the Amazon. Having been to the Amazon a few times before, I'm always struck by its beauty and its challenges. Gracias. Reporter: It's the dry season here. The river's really, really low. So in this case we had to get out of the boat so they could pass. After getting stuck a few more times, our two-hour journey -- Gracias. Reporter: -- Turns into three. But finally -- And we're here. Which is where we're spending the night. Reporter: Joining us on this adventure is Peter Arnold from Switzerland. So you did the kambo, the sapo? I did it, yeah. What was it like? You throw up. You feel very sick. You feel like you're going to die. And finally it's going away, and after that you have the kind of feeling of being relief. Why did you decide to do it? It was a unique experience. I just wanted to know what it feels like, you know. Reporter: My team is getting curious about this experience too. But to do that we have to find a frog. The sapo comes out at night and usually only when it's really dark and cloudy nights. Reporter: As twilight settles it's time to start the hunt. We have our snake boots, our headlights, our mosquito repellant. Okay. And the rule of the jungle is that especially at night you don't touch anything. A really shallow spot so we have to get out of the boat. Be careful where you put your feet. Oh, look. Not our frog but it is a frog. It's been almost three hours. We haven't been very lucky so far. So they've decided to park our boat and head on foot into the jungle. I hope they know their way back to the boat. Oh, wow. Look. There it is. That is amazing. Big, huh? Grande. Reporter: Here we hit the jackpot. We find not one but two frogs. At night they just sit there, don't do much. During the day they're camouflaged so, it's almost impossible to find them. Reporter: On our way back we almost lose someone on our team in the process. Reporter: Jasmine, our producer, just lost her boot in the swamp here. With luck we easily find our way back to the boat. Three hours, we found two frogs. Heading back to camp. And tomorrow's the big day. Reporter: This camp is owned by Amazon explorer Peter Gorman, the man o'who claims credit for bringing sapo to the united States. Somehow just seemed to explode on the scene. It's the emerging stages of a small but legitimate phenomenon. Reporter: As treatments from the Amazon like kambo become more popular, Gorman says one can't ignore the impact it could have. I don't think any indigenous group in the Amazon is large enough to be able to handle busloads of tourists coming in. I think that would destroy their entire way of life. Reporter: The next morning it's almost time for to us try for ourselves. But first the toxins must be extracted. They just have these four sticks. They open up the legs with these strings and then it starts secreting its poison. Translator: All the secretion you see is protection. After this the frog will be a little weak. We free it, and it will eat to recuperate its energy. I get a little quality time with the frog before he's released back to the wild. It's cold and sticky and wet. And they say you can hold it, it's not harmful at all unless you hold it and then you put it in your eyes or your mouth. Okay, little buddy. Reporter: While the frog regains its strength it's Peter's turn. The frog poison has been dried onto a stick and in the traditional amazonian way reconstituted with spit. What are you feeling? It's like heart pounding. That's a start. So I sit down? Reporter: After making it all the way here, I can't back down now. In 15 seconds he says I'm going to be able to feel it. Blood is rushing to my eyes. My head. Your heart is racing as fast as if it was -- as if you'd just run a marathon. How are you feeling, Peter? I think I might need to throw up. The question is why do people do this to themselves? I'm going to find out after, how I feel. I believe it really works. The detox. Reporter: A few hours later Peter is feeling better. And as for me? Still a little light-headed but also full of energy. Almost back to Normal. Reporter: Miracle medicine? Maybe not. But the magic and wonder of the Amazon, undeniable. For "Nightline" I'm Mariana van Zeller in Peru.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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