The Weird World Of Fish Therapy
If you've never heard about fish therapy before, you certainly aren't alone. The usual purpose behind therapy of any type is to heal. And it is well known that animals often play a major role in therapy, usually when it is a patient's mental situation where treatment and therapy is needed. Dogs and cats, especially the latter, are sometimes taken into nursing homes, where they have a definite therapeutic value in the companionship they give to the residents. Then, there are programs where patients with either physical or mental disorders spend time on horseback, where it has been proven that the gentle motion of a horse when moving at a slow walk provides definite therapeutic benefits.
So, you may ask, where do fish come in, and what is fish therapy all about? Anyone who has a home aquarium, especially a large one, will tell you that the act of merely watching the fish move about can have a calming, and this a therapeutic effect. One might expect that in doing a search for fish therapy, one might be taken to a number of web pages discussing the joys of having a home aquarium, or informative articles on how to keep tropical fish. Not exactly true.
You'll Be Surprised - How about fish therapy as a means of combating psoriasis, curing asthma, or simply getting a foot massage that will later serve as a good conversation piece. These are the subjects you'll find being discussed. In the case of psoriasis and the foot massage, fish therapy consists of allowing little fish to nibble at your skin. You don't have to worry; they don't eat much, mainly dead skin. It probably tickles though. As far as asthma is concerned, you swallow a live fish. If that really worked, asthma sufferers would likely have no problems in doing just that. Let's look at these three areas in a little more detail, and then make mention of a fourth.
Asthma Therapy - The asthma cure takes place at a specific location in India, on a certain day of each year. Participants swallow a small live fish that has been stuffed with secret herbal ingredients or medicines. This act is performed three times at two week intervals, during which time a strict dietary regimen is followed. The claim is that a person's asthma will be completely cured in three years if this practice is followed. It is free, but as noted, the content of the herbal medicine is a well kept secret, and the medicine also contains water from a special well. The fishes' role? Supposedly its wiggling helps you swallow the medicine in addition to disguising the taste.
Psoriasis Therapy - The psoriasis treatment sounds a bit less fishy, though more fish are involved. This treatment is really that of exfoliation, where one bathes in water populated by minnow-sized fish known as doctor fish. These fish feast on dead skin and scales, the result supposedly being an improvement in the symptoms of psoriasis. This example of fish therapy may have some validity to it though the jury is still out. One concern would be one for hygiene, especially when bathing in water which may have just been used by someone else with a skin disorder, or being in the company of fish who may be carrying parasites of one kind or another.
The foot massage is probably a little safer in this respect, in that it is just your feet that are submerged. The fish go about their business of eating away dead skin. The actual massage isn't done by the fish, but is performed after the fishy treatment, which is supposed to feel quite good once you're used to it.
Eat the Right Fish - The validity of any of these therapeutic treatments is of course open to question. One can say "What works, works", but there are risks involved, including the one of spending time and money on something that may be pure hype. The fourth type of therapy is more well-known and widely accepted in the medical community. This fish therapy involves make cold water fish a regular part of the diet, because of the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. These fatty acids are not only good for you, but are essential to one's general health and well being. A portion of herring or mackerel (oily fish are best), or even salmon, can help to reduce heart disease, hypertension and various rheumatoid problems, and omega-3 fatty acids are good for your skin as well. Have a herring and go on a horseback ride and you'll probably be feeling pretty good afterwards, a little sore maybe.