TALKING ABOUT THE state of one's bowels is hardly the stuff of polite conversation, but once on the topic everyone seems to have a 'moving' tale to tell. And when the world learned that the late Princess Diana's colon got a right royal flushing every week, you would almost be confined to social Siberia in certain circles if you couldn't hold your own on the subject of colonic irrigation over dinner. But in spite of all the hype - and the scary statistic that it is one of the most common forms of cancer - the humble colon is still one of the most neglected parts of the body. So what to do if you want a healthy intestinal system, but the thought of colonic irrigation turns you green? The Elemis Day Spa offers the squeamish a non-invasive therapy that uses a deep massage to boost blood flow in the area, get a sluggish system working and flush out toxins. And combined with a fennel mask applied to hips and thighs, it tackles cellulite too. It doesn't promise to be the most relaxing treatment you'll ever have, but far easier to get your mind round than the thought of inserting a tube up your backside. Louise, my assigned therapist, eased me in gently by applying a mixture of Elemis' Cellutox Active Body Concentrate (a detoxifying oil) and Contour and Silhouette cream to my legs. Moving from my ankles upwards, she used a relaxing lymphatic-drainage massage technique, designed to stimulate my circulation and prepare my body for detox. She then whipped up a sugar-based clay mask containing fennel and birch, both of which have decongestant properties, and slathered the custard-like substance over my thighs. They were then wrapped in layers of plastic and covered with a towel to keep me warm and comfortable. No hardship so far. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and it was time for the colonic part of the therapy, which Louise explained before commencing. Basically, your average two-metre-long colon is part of the digestive system's large intestine, which removes nutrients from food and stores waste until it passes out of the body. Because it is a muscular tube rather than a smooth cylinder, waste can get trapped in any number of nooks and crannies, causing such undesirables as bloating, toxin build-up (which can lead to cellulite) and gas. Although it can be uncomfortable, an abdominal massage helps to get your system moving and prevent the aforesaid problems. And if I had any gas in there, Louise continued, I shouldn't be embarrassed to let it all out. I was mortified at this, but she must have sensed it because she took time to convince me it was the most natural thing in the world. She began on the right side of my abdomen, massaging it slowly as if there was a rectangle around my navel. It was tender in places, which signified minor blockages in my colon, but only really painful when she got close to the place she'd started on. This was apparently due to clogged waste matter from a heavy meal eaten too late the previous night. Louise then touched reflex points on my feet relating to my colon to finish off. While I'd been having my colon massaged the fennel leg mask had hardened into a rubber-like substance, which Louise peeled off to reveal what I thought looked like smoother, more evenly toned thighs. And the result of the colon therapy? Although I wasn't chained to the loo for the next few days, let's just say prunes were off the breakfast menu for about a week. How to make the most of it Tips: Don't eat at least an hour before the treatment or you risk an uncomfortable colon massage. Value for money: $480 for 45 minutes. Because the fennel mask and the colon therapy are so different, you feel as though you are getting two treatments in one. So what's the score?: 8/10 Although I didn't feel radically different, the treatment seemed to work, giving my sluggish system a bit of a kick and my thighs a temporarily smoother appearance. You probably need to continue with the therapy on a regular basis to experience a real change, and if you're after a more dramatic, instant cleanse, colonic irrigation may be the one for you. Reservations: Elemis Day Spa, 9/F, Century Square, 1 D'Aguilar Street, Central, tel: 2521-6660.