Friday, 2 November 2012

Dr. Fish for curing skin diseases

Patients with chronic, intractable disease tend to seek help from a wide range of alternative sources.  The fish strike and lick the psoriatic plaque - or plaques of other skin diseases - which have been softened by the water. This clears away the scales, causes minor bleeding, and exposes the lesion to water and sunlight. This may also cause drainage of pus in patients with abscesses. A school of fish surround the body and strike and lick it. The initial pleasant sensation and relaxation of “micro-massage” is replaced by a tingling sensation over the skin. This massage is given particularly by the younger fish, which need many more nutrients for their rapid growth. It may be that, in addition to the benefits of hydrotherapy from the hot-spring, there is a psychological component to this massage which generates a feeling of well-being in patients with neurologic and rheumatic diseases, traumatic diseases and with traumatic sequalae.

 Two types of fish are involved. Both are members of the Cyprinidae family.

1. Garra rufa obtuse: It has a crescent-shaped ventral mouth and a maximum length of 19cm. Its body is also covered with large scales

 2. Cyprinion macrostomus:  It has a terminal mouth and a length of 15 to 20cm.  It is covered with relatively large scales, and has six to eight irregularly arranged lateral spots of various sizes.

 Both fish are omnivorous, a well-known feature of Cyprinidae and feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton. But only small amounts of plankton have been found in the pools. The role the doctor fish can play in therapeutic medicine deserves proper study.

More readings;

1. Undar L, Akpinar MA, Yanikoglu A. “Doctor fish” and psoriasis. Lancet 1990;335;470-1.

2. Grassberger M, Hoch W. Ichthyotherapy as alternative treatment for patients with psoriasis: a pilot study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006;3(4):483-8.

3. Vugia DJ, Jang Y, Zizek C, Ely J, Winthrop KL, Desmond E. Mycobacteria in nail salon whirlpool footbaths, California. Emerg Infect Dis. 2005;11(4):616-8.

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