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Fish therapy

Related Terms

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Background

  • During fish therapy, or ichthyotherapy, a type of fish called Garra rufa is used to help treat skin conditions, such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. These toothless fish, commonly called doctor fish, feed on dead skin cells. The therapy is considered painless, but there are little data available to clarify whether it is more or less effective than current treatments for these conditions. Some spas are also these fish to help soften clients' feet and improve their looks.
  • The fish are native to Kanga, Turkey. In their natural habitat, these bottom dwellers feed on small organisms that live on rocks.
  • The practice, which involves sitting with parts of the body immersed in warm water, originated in Turkey's highland hot springs.
  • Fish therapy is a popular mode of relaxation and pedicure in parts of Asia. It is very popular in Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia. The benefits are said to include smoother skin, relaxation, and better circulation, which they credit to the "micro-massage" clients receive as the fish feed. Aside from the feet, individuals can also receive treatment on their hands or other body parts. According to some reports, visitors describe the sensation as a tickle or a gentle nibbling feeling.
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Technique

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Theory/Evidence

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Safety

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.