The great results of using garra rufa fish to treat skin disorders was proven
by Dr. Martin Grassberger and W. Hoch at the Medical University Of Vienna. They
name it Ichthyotherapy (=therapy with fish). The study was published at the eCAM
– Journal (Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine) from the Oxford
There are many different breeds of what are popularly known
as Doctor Fish™. They are also commonly referred to as Spa-Fish, Garra Rufa, Massage
Fish, Carp, Tench, Kangal Fish, Surgeon Fish, Nibble Fish and Tickle fish, amongst
Doctor Fish™ originate from the Middle East, most famously Kangal, Turkey. They
are found about hot spring areas, where people have visited to be cleaned and treated
by these fish for hundreds of years.
There are more than ten different species that fall under the banner of Doctor Fish™.
Of the ten species, there are two major families, Lickers and Strikers.
Doctor Fish™ are attracted to and feed on the dead and unhealthy skin cells on the
human body, leaving the skin feeling smoother and softer. Results can be seen after
a fifteen minute session, although longer sessions are also popular. Because the
fish have no teeth, the process is not painful and can be quite a pleasant sensation
after the initial ticklish feeling has subsided and you have relaxed into the treatment.
Doctor Fish™ have proven to be quite effective at treating flaky and dried skin,
leaving only the fresh exfoliated skin beneath. They have also become popular as
a treatment for medical conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
The Doctor Fish™ were first popularly used in skin treatment in the Kangal area
of Turkey, hence why they are often known as Kangal Fish.
The spring is 13km from Kangal in a tiny settlement, consisting of a hotel, some
pensions, a camping area, a small restaurant, a market and four bathing pools, three
of which are open-air. The springs were first noticed by people from neighbouring
villages in the early 1800s. The pools were built in 1900, and were opened to the
public in 1963.
The pools have concrete walls and floors paved with pebbles and drain into a stream
which runs between the buildings.
The water, with a pH of about 7.2, is isothermal and maintains a temperature of
about 35 ° C throughout the year. The presence of selenium (1.3ppm) has been emphasised
for its biological and therapeutic aspects.
The water has been reported as being beneficial in rheumatic disease, neurologic
disorders (neuralgia, neuritis, paralysis), orthopaedic and traumatological sequelae
(fractures, joint trauma, and muscle disease), gynaecological problems (by lavage),
skin diseases, urolithiasis (by drinking), and psychosomatic disorders. But psoriasis
is the disease which has made the spring so popular as a therapeutic aid. Wide interest
in the Doctor Fish™ encourages people with neurological and rheumatic diseases to
visit the hotspring to immerse themselves in its pools.