With the end of the hunting ban, the variety of fish being sold in Turkish markets has increased. Among these fish, the shi drum, maigre and brown meager species and festive stalls bring in great interest less for their taste, and more for a stone found in their head that is believed to have medicinal properties.
The shi drum, which is sold for TL 70 ($8.28) per kilo, has become one of the most sold fish species due to its flavor, thick fish bones and the belief that the stones in its head are good for kidney pain. Two otolith stones found in the head section of shi drum, maigre and brown meager fish are sold for TL 600 per kilo. The white otolith stone, which almost looks like marble, is sold for TL 4 to 10 per stone.
Fisherman Ilker Keklik said that many of his clients who believe that these stones have healing properties prefer the shi drum, maigre and brown meager fish species. They believe that the stones protect against kidney disease. Keklik advises those who suffer from kidney stones and gallstones to crush four of these stones with a mortar and add half a lemon’s juice to the mixture before consuming it.
"The shi drum fish is sold not just for its excellent flavor but also for its medicinal stones.”
“One fish, sold for 70 lira per kilo, will contain two stones. Our customers specifically ask for the stones when they have the fish cleaned. The price of the stones ranges from 600 to 1,000 lira per kilo. It is believed that the shi drum’s stone is useful for getting rid of kidney stones. We have more customers who buy it for its stone, rather than its taste," Keklik explained.
Professor Mehmet Gökoğlu of Akdeniz University’s Faculty of Fisheries explained that, in fact, all fish species with bones have otoliths, but that "among fish from other families, this stone is especially large in the croaker (Sciaenidae) family" and that the white, nail-sized stone found in the bone structure of these fish "consists of calcium carbonate."
"It is known that removing the otolith of a fish of the Sciaenidae family, drying it, crushing it into dust in a mortar, squeezing lemon on it and then consuming it is a practice that is beneficial for sufferers of kidney stones. There is no particular scientific research done on this subject. But we know that it was used to rid the body of kidney stones," he added.
"There's a lot of talk that it can rid the body of kidney stones. This needs to be scientifically investigated and proven. In maigre, brown meager and shi drum fish, the otolith is very large. The otolith used to reduce kidney stones belongs to the Sciaenidae family. Because they are all from the same family, we see that the otolith of the shi drum, maigre and brown meager is extracted, sold and used."