Since no virus or diseases can be transmitted through the thermal water in the pools, due to its highly mineralized content, the fish therapy in Kangal is safe to use. This type of treatment has no side effects and medication should not be taken during treatment.
The 'Doctor Fish'
Also known as "Nibble Fish," "Kangal Fish," or "Doctorfishen". Outside the medical context, Garra Rufa is called reddish log sucker.
The Kangal fish have made a name for themselves as bio-therapists. Skin diseases such as acne, eczema and psoriases are successfully cured by the so called 'doctor fish'. Members of the carp and minnow family, the Cyprinion macrostomus macrostomus and the Garra rufa Obtusa appear to survive the 37 degree water in the spa pools with no ill effects (Scientifically no fish live in water with temperature exceeding 28 C). Both species normally inhabit waterways in the Tigris-Euphrates basin in Western Asia, but their wild populations are in decline.
The 'doctor' fish belong to the cyprinidae family also know as carp fish. Out of two to three species of carp, only these two species contain the effective healing process of skin. They are also known by the nicknames 'nibble fish' and 'Kangal fish'. Due to their supernatural healing power and for their ability to produce healthy, glowing results from even the most crusty or diseased epidermis, some working professors named it doctor fish. According to them, doctor fish works naturally as a human skin doctor and is a typical example of natural symbiosis. Human needs fish to beautify their skin while fish need human dead skin cells as their food. Some people believe that the saliva of doctor fish is the key to the treatment's success.
In Kangal, the water's high temperature makes it very difficult for any nutrients in the pools to survive, thus empowering the hungry fish to feed on the human dead skin with a great appetite. The normally vegetarian fish storm those areas of sore, red and thickened skin referred to as the plaques. They only consume the affected and dead areas of skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow. The warm water (about 37C or 95F) softens the skin flakes making them easier for the fish to snatch. By removing the scales off human's skin, the fish uncover the lesions to the healthful exposure of the UV sunrays and water. Sometimes the professional actions of the fish may result into a slight bleeding or may help drain pus from patients with abscesses. The doctor fish can clean the scales of a patient in a few hours. The extended rinsing of the scales stimulates the effect of the UV sunlight while the fast cleaning of the psoriatic plaque has proved to have a positive psychological effect on patients.
The two distinct fish species are also known as ' Strikers ' and ' Lickers' , respectively, apparently due to their natural behaviour in the spa pools The more amiable beasts are the "lickers" which rarely exceed a couple of inches in length. They cruise their way along the surface of your skin, gently scraping off and munching loose skin flakes. Less gentle are the aptly named "strikers", who employ more of a hit-and-run tactics. Very fast, they dart in, take a chunk out of you and swim off to enjoy their spoils at leisure.
Spa treatment procedure
1- The Patient has to drink spring water at least 3 times at the same time in the morning on an empty stomach.
2- After drinking the spring water, the patient is expected have breakfast (Turkish breakfast consisting of butter, local bread,, cheese, olives, tomatoes, green pepper, milk and tea, Nescafe, yogurt, jam, ham, and boiled egg) before going to the treatment pool.
3- The treatment should begin on a full stomach and after partaking of the spring water. The mineral content of the spa and the healing effect of the fish begin to manifest simultaneously.
4- Selenium, scientifically proven to be effective in the treatment of skin diseases, and abundant in the spa, starts penetrating with the help of the doctor fishes.
5- Patients are advised to immerse themselves twice daily, for a total of 8 hours.
6- Alcohol is strictly prohibited during the treatment period
7- Patients must not use any extra drug for Psoriasis during the treatment time.
8- The entire cure lasts for 21 days, and patients should obey the 8 hour limit per day exactly.
9- Patients must go into the pool regularly without skipping an immersion.
10- Patients must bring their own slippers, towels and bath materials for hygienic reasons.
* Psoriasis affected patients obeying these important rules will leave the springs gaining 100% clearing effect on their skin.
Please be aware that this is not a permanent cure and has only a temporary effect on patients due to recurrent nature of the disease. However it produces amazing effects and seems to hold back its reoccurrence for months.
There are 5 major natural therapeutic effects involved in the psoriasis healing process, which are:
- The influence of the natural ultraviolet radiation as a result of the spa's high altitude location
- The beneficiary effect of selenium-rich spa waters (hydrotherapy)
- The relaxing Jacuzzi effect of the healing pools with water springing underneath the bathing patients
- The skin contact of the doctor fish, living in their natural habitat
- Reverse Koebner phenomenon - identified as clearing of skin lesions at sites of trauma
Many modern spa centres and clinics around the world (Japan, China, United States and Europe) have tried to adopt the 'doctor fish' by breeding it in artificial spa pools, providing beauty spa procedures and psoriasis fish treatment back home. However the truth is that the unique conditions present at the Kangal Thermal Spa Center can hardly be reproduced. Namely the combination of all factors enumerated above is what creates a synergy treatment effect which cannot be achieved elsewhere.