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Thread: Ichthyotherapy: Quackery?

  1. #1 Ichthyotherapy: Quackery? 
    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Ichthyotherapy is the use of fresh water or marine organisms (mostly Garra rufa) as agents of skin wound/condition cleansing.
    This practice promotes itself as a treatment that alleviates symptoms of psoriasis.

    One study (and that is the only article I could find about the subject) states in its abstract:
    "Sixty-five percent [43 subjects] stated that after the relapse their symptoms were less severe than before treatment. There were no significant adverse events. The benefit demonstrated in this study along with the favorable safety profile suggests that ichthyotherapy could provide a viable treatment option for patients with psoriasis."


    Yet, the article about the Doctor fish on Wikipedia says the following:
    "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."


    So, is ichthyotherapy pure quackery or is it a medical treatment in its infancy?


    Sources:
    Ichthyotherapy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Grassberger, H., Hoch, W. (2006), "Ichthyotherapy as Alternative Treatment for Patients with Psoriasis: A Pilot Study", Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 3(4), pp. 483-488
    Doctor fish - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  3. #2  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Er, perhaps there is some validity in it, but there are other means of cleaning wounds that are better alternatives.


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  4. #3  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
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    I am no expert on the subject, but I would think while the treatment makes sense for certain conditions ( like psoriasis, where the fish simply remove dead skin ), I don't know what effect it was supposed to have on a normal, healthy human.
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  5. #4  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    My apologies for the following:

    I've always thought there was something fishy about this concept. I think at least one of your references is a red herring. Do you feel this sub-forum is the right plaice for your question? Surely responses will just tail off, because too few people carp about the practice. And I didn't quite catch the sole reason you posted this. Still, bladder you than me: I wouldn't skate on such thin ice...........

    I can't help myself.
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  6. #5  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    I've haddock up to here with your puns.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  7. #6  
    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    A herring? I once chopped down a tree with one of those to appease he knights who say "ni". Many politicians also have various sorts of herrings but I don't carp enough to give a crappie. I dont believe this theory even has a limb to Perch itself on, nothing but bassless assertions coupled with dogfishic assumptions. To Hallibut with all this crappie, I'm done with this bill shark, FIN.
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  8. #7  
    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    I am no expert on the subject, but I would think while the treatment makes sense for certain conditions ( like psoriasis, where the fish simply remove dead skin ), I don't know what effect it was supposed to have on a normal, healthy human.

    None, I guess. Yet, the information about the topic is rather scarce, so it is just a guess.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    My apologies for the following:

    I've always thought there was something fishy about this concept. I think at least one of your references is a red herring. Do you feel this sub-forum is the right plaice for your question? Surely responses will just tail off, because too few people carp about the practice. And I didn't quite catch the sole reason you posted this. Still, bladder you than me: I wouldn't skate on such thin ice...........

    I can't help myself.
    Be ashamed. Be very ashamed.
    Its the way nature is!
    If you dont like it, go somewhere else....
    To another universe, where the rules are simpler
    Philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy
    Prof Richard Feynman (1979) .....

    Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!"
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  10. #9  
    Genius Duck Moderator Dywyddyr's Avatar
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    This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my sisters a while back.
    Me: It's mum's birthday soon. Do you think she'd be glad of a session with those fish that nibble at you? Can't remember the name though...
    Sister: Garra rufa?
    Me: No, piranha is what I had in mind.
    "[Dywyddyr] makes a grumpy bastard like me seem like a happy go lucky scamp" - PhDemon
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  11. #10  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    There was a report about five months ago about diseases being transmitted from person to person by these fish. Unfortunately I cannot recall a source.

    Edit: Alex G suggested I be ashamed about my fish puns. I am not. I am however ashamed about using the Daily Mail as a source for the above information. But here is the link anyway:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/ar...patitis-C.html
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  12. #11  
    Forum Masters Degree LuciDreaming's Avatar
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    I must admit Kings College hospital advised Hep C patients against it - not because of the fish but because of sharing water with other people where they might have small cuts on their feet etc and so could be open to infection or spread it. But that's true of hairdressers, nail salons, dentists, hospitals etc.. Hepatitis is just a risk full stop.

    I have to say its the fish I feel sorry for......
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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  13. #12  
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    I have to say its the fish I feel sorry for......
    Yeah. The idea is OK for one person occasionally in a fish pool at home. It's also technically a good idea to have a process with no risk of injury from mistakes or slips of the hand with sharp instruments or other tools for removing dead or hardened skin.

    But commercial salons are not set up with fish health first in mind. Worse, most pay no attention, or only lip service, to the problem of reducing transmission of disease between clients.

    I can see how the idea is attractive. Unfortunately I don't see how a commercial operation could make this work for the health of both fish and clients without making it prohibitively expensive for all but a few.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  14. #13  
    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    There was a report about five months ago about diseases being transmitted from person to person by these fish. Unfortunately I cannot recall a source.

    Edit: Alex G suggested I be ashamed about my fish puns. I am not. I am however ashamed about using the Daily Mail as a source for the above information. But here is the link anyway:Fish pedicures and foot spas could spread HIV and hepatitis C | Mail Online

    Why are you ashamed about using the Daily Mail as a news source?
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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  15. #14  
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    It isn't known for reliability or objective reporting.

    Not that there are any sources that are... just some hold a tighter "try" for it than others...
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  16. #15  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    On a less fishy note, there has been some success with the use of maggots: Maggot therapy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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  17. #16  
    who sees through things
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    Psoriasis is completely different from a wound, where there is infection risk.

    I have a mild case of psoriasis, which is an autoimmune disorder that is not contagious. It prevents itself as overgrowth of skin cells; discomfort can be alleviated by removing the dead cells. Chemical exfoliants, such as salicylic acid or Retin-A, are often prescribed to do this, but I don't see why the fish biting wouldn't work just as well, and it could be a fun, interesting experience if that's your sort of thing. None of these actually fix the problem with the immune system.

    There was a garra rufa spa near me for a while but it closed down, probably because rents are ridiculously high and lots of businesses close down soon after opening. I never tried it.

    I believe that this may be banned in some states in the US because of the risk of spreading infection.

    ETA: Now about the Daily Mail, I often end up writing news stories about scientific research that also gets mentioned in the Daily Mail. I get to read the original research papers. It is astonishing how often the Daily Mail story doesn't even come close to what the original study was about. Seriously, do not rely on it for scientific information ever.
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  18. #17  
    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alec Bing View Post
    It is astonishing how often the Daily Mail story doesn't even come close to what the original study was about. Seriously, do not rely on it for scientific information ever.
    It is astonishing how often the Daily Mail story doesn't even come close to reality. Seriously, do not rely on it for information ever.

    I'm still not sure why they sell it next to newspapers. It is bound to confuse some people.
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  19. #18  
    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alec Bing View Post
    Now about the Daily Mail, I often end up writing news stories about scientific research that also gets mentioned in the Daily Mail. I get to read the original research papers. It is astonishing how often the Daily Mail story doesn't even come close to what the original study was about. Seriously, do not rely on it for scientific information ever.

    I see. I will keep it in mind for starting future threads.


    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    On a less fishy note, there has been some success with the use of maggots: Maggot therapy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I have never heard of that therapy, but it seems that the method has more scientific support than ichthyotherapy.
    Nonetheless, it is not very appetizing method (but again, neither are the diseases).
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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