Doctor fish is the name given to the species of fish Garra rufa, also known as nibble fish, kangal fish, PhysioFish and Reddish log sucker are popular as Spa Therapy as a natural form of exfoliation and relaxation treatment. These fish are grown in warm spas in Turkey, they live and breed in the pools of some Turkish river systems and hot springs.
Garra Rufa Fish have the skill of eating dry hard skin but does not eat or touch healthy skin. As the legend goes, the healing powers of the fish were discovered in modern times by a shepherd and his flock in Turkey in 1917. Apparently he stumbled into marshy ground with an injured foot and found the open wound besieged by these little fish. The wound healed and eventually word got out to the outside world about these efficacious little “man-eaters”. When kept in the correct conditions, These normally vegetarian fish home in on areas of dry skin, especially around heels and soles of the feet and finger nails. For a psoriasis sufferer, the fish target the plaques areas of sore, red and thickened skin.
The Garra Rufa Fish therapy has grown popular in the UK as well.
The first treatment spa opened in the UK in 2010 and now spreading in cities throughout the UK. Doctor Fish Therapy had been growing in the US but is also banned in several states due to concerns about sanitation and cross infection.Though the use of the fish as a spa treatment for the wider public is still widely debated on grounds of efficacy and validity, as the treatment is not shown to have either positive or negative effects.
Doctor Fish Theraphy is banned in several of the United States and Canadian provinces as cosmetology regulators believe the practice is unsanitary, with the Wall Street Journal claiming that “cosmetology regulations generally mandate that tools need to be discarded or sanitized after each use .But epidermis-eating fish are too expensive to throw away”.
The procedure is legal in Quebec, with a few clinics in Montreal.There are claims that Garra Rufa exude a unique enzyme called dithranol (anthralin) which prevents fast development of cells from the skin, thereby alleviating Psoriasis. This however seems to be just a claim and has not of yet been scientifically proved by any reputable study as of yet.