• A self-described spiritual teacher described Natasha Lechner's reaction to the toxins before her death
  • The mucus from the giant monkey frog was banned in Australia in 2021
  • The country's Therapeutic Goods Administration found Kambo had no medicinal benefit and could be deadly

A woman in Australia died during a shamanic "Kambo" ritual after applying the toxins of an Amazonian tree frog to burns on her skin.

Self-proclaimed spiritual teacher Victoria Sinclair was the last person to see 39-year-old Natasha Lechner alive on March 8, 2019, The Guardian reported.

During a court testimony Tuesday morning, Sinclair claimed that she was not able to call emergency services immediately after Lechner began exhibiting a negative reaction to the toxins during the 2019 ceremony as she didn't know Australia's 000 emergency phone number and did not have a phone on her person.

Sinclair described Lechner's reaction to the "medicine" before her death at Sinclair's apartment in the town of Mullumbimby in the Australian state of New South Wales.

As part of the ritual, Lechner made small burns in her skin and applied the poison to them to induce vomiting or "purging," Sinclair told an inquest into Lechner's death.

One of the substances she used was the mucus secreted from the giant monkey frog – a leaf frog native to the Amazon basin in South America.

According to Sinclair, Lechner first used an incense candle to make three small burns on Sinclair's left calf and one on her left ear and then applied the Kambo on her.

Sinclair said that she experienced a quick and strong reaction to the Kambo, including womb cramping that was "not necessarily normal," and purged within 15 minutes.

Afterward, Sinclair made five burns on Lechner and applied the Kambo.

"She felt faint quite quickly and she lay herself down in a kind of semi-recovery position. Then she sat up and grabbed my arm and just looked at me and said: 'It's not good,'" Sinclair said, adding that Lechner then fainted sitting up.

Sinclair recalled that Lechner began to murmur, and her lips turned blue. Her hands also began twitching, and her breathing became labored, prompting Sinclair to perform CPR on Lechner.

An ambulance was only called after Sinclair's roommate arrived at the apartment. Emergency responders were not able to save Lechner.

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration banned the use of the frog's mucus in 2021 as it found no medicinal benefit in it and determined that it could potentially be poisonous and life-threatening. However, at the time of the ceremony, it was still widely available and easily obtained online.

Sinclair testified in the inquest proceedings in Lismore through a video link from Bali, Indonesia. She said that she had known Lechner for more than five years and that Lechner had been her client on three or four previous Kambo rituals before her death in 2019.

She told the hearing that Lechner had just completed a course in administering Kambo and that it was Lechner who had been conducting the ceremony that day.

"I wasn't being brought in [in] my capacity as her practitioner that day," Sinclair told the inquest. "It was more of a colleague actually."

Sinclair described it as "a very big milestone in Natasha's life."

Expert toxicologist and associate professor Darren Roberts, who also testified, said that Lechner was "very much engaged and focused on her health" and saw Kambo as "complementary to mainstream medicine."

"She felt that there were benefits that she was having from that both in terms of her own health benefits but perhaps personal benefits of being able to care for other people," he said.

Lechner's family, including her father and two brothers, were present during the proceedings. The hearing will continue Wednesday.

Poison Frog