The "internal shower" has gone viral on social media, with millions of people posting, watching, and commenting on videos about this potential health drink.
As with any new fad, it's important to look at the pros and cons and understand how and why it does (or doesn't) work, and who it's safe for. So, let's dive in.
Popularized by health and wellness coach Daryl Gioffre, the internal shower drink is a blend of water, chia seeds, and lemon juice. Gioffre describes the mixture as a "constipation reliever shot" that rinses out the digestive system — hence the name — and promotes "natural elimination."
Many people have found this simple concoction to be an effective remedy for bloating and constipation.
The recipe for the internal shower drink requires just three ingredients: 2 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed into at least 8 oz of water, with up to 1 lemon worth of fresh-squeezed juice.
Some people also add a pinch of salt, but this is optional. Stir and let chia seeds absorb the water for up to 15 minutes. Once the seeds have taken on a gel-like consistency, stir again and drink.
Chia seeds are often described as a superfood, or a functional food, which means they offer health benefits beyond their nutritional value.
Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc, and are rich in antioxidants that protect the body from cell damage. Chia seeds are thought to lower blood sugar levels, support the good bacteria in the gut and contribute to disease prevention and cardiovascular health.
Chia seeds are full of valuable nutrients, but the reason they are used in this constipation remedy is that they are packed with dietary fiber.
These little seeds are capable of absorbing ten times their weight in fluid, transforming water or juice into a thick, gel-like substance. This fiber-rich gel adds bulk to stools, softening them and helping them pass more easily.
Reports about the effectiveness of this remedy vary. Some people report a successful trip to the toilet within minutes of consuming the drink, others say it can take an hour or two, while some people see no effect at all.
In reality, there’s little scientific evidence to support the internal shower drink as a constipation remedy. The large amount of water combined with the fiber in the chia seeds may help encourage digestion, but it’s not a miracle cure. Although chia seeds are beneficial to health, claims that chia seeds remove toxins from the gut are also unfounded.
Drinking enough water is key to the success of the internal shower and preventing unwanted side effects from too much fiber. Consuming too much fiber can cause pain, bloating, diarrhea, and — surprisingly — constipation.
This is because fiber pulls liquid into the gut, and without adequate hydration from general water consumption, can make it difficult for food to move through the digestive tract. Everyone should be aiming for about 6 to 8 large glasses of water each day.
While the internal shower is generally considered safe, there are some risks to consider. One person was hospitalized with an obstructed esophagus after eating a large spoonful of chia seeds. This is unusual, however, and drinking plenty of water should be enough to avoid it.
In rare cases, individuals may experience a severe allergic reaction to chia seeds, either because they have an allergy to chia or because of cross-reactivity. There is also a risk of choking due to the thick and uneven texture of the mixture, so remember to drink it slowly.
The internal shower can be effective for some people, but it’s not suitable for everyone. People with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis may want to avoid it because consuming high-fiber foods during a flare-up can irritate the gut and aggravate symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.
People who have difficulty swallowing or have a narrowed esophagus should also avoid this drink due to its thick texture.
Everyone deals with constipation from time to time, but chronic constipation could be a sign of an underlying condition.
Talk to a doctor if constipation is accompanied by severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, blood in the stool, or unintended weight loss. Any sudden changes in digestive health call for a discussion with a doctor.
The internal shower can be useful for providing relief from constipation in the short term, but it’s not a long-term solution for poor digestion. To maintain a healthy gut, it’s important to stay hydrated and eat the right amount of fiber every day.
This amount varies from person to person, but the recommended daily amount is 21-25 grams for women and 30-38 grams for men. Good sources of fiber include vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.