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The “internal shower” is a drink made from chia seeds and lemon water that is supposed to relieve constipation, and which is currently a viral trend on TikTok. Photo: Daryl Gioffre

What is the ‘internal shower’ drink? Health benefits of viral TikTok trend and how it can keep you regular

  • Experts review the chia seed and lemon water drink promoted by celebrity nutritionist Daryl Gioffre, including whether it really can help with bowel movements
  • The simple concoction has actually long been used by a Mexican tribe whose members have a reputation for being great long-distance runners

A chia seed “internal shower”, a health hack that its promoter Daryl Gioffre dubs a “constipation reliever shot” that will clean out your gut, has gone viral.

Gioffre, a celebrity nutritionist and author of Get Off Your Sugar and Get Off Your Acid, spoke about this remedy on a podcast in May, saying he had tried it himself after suffering from serious stomach problems.

The internal shower is simply a glass of water into which two tablespoons of chia seeds and a squeeze of lemon are added. “Let it sit for five minutes so that the seeds expand in size and then have it on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning,” Gioffre says, referring to it as a means to achieve natural elimination.

TikTok videos of the trend with the hashtag #internalshower have garnered more than 228 million views. Some TikTok users called the formula “chunky” or “weird”, while others claimed it felt like “it’s cleaning you from the inside”. Some felt it subdued their hunger pangs and also reduced their bloating.

Celebrity nutritionist Daryl Gioffre has promoted the internal shower on TikTok. Photo: Courtesy of Daryl Gioffre

Chia seeds come from a type of mint plant called the Salvia hispanica and are considered a superfood. They were first discovered by the Aztecs and the Mayans – the word “chia” in the Mayan language meant “strength”. Chia seeds were a primary ingredient in Aztec medicine and used in multiple ways, from relieving joint pain to soothing irritated skin.

Aztec rulers received chia seeds as an annual tribute from countries that they had conquered. Ancient Aztec warriors attributed their stamina to this tiny seed. When the Spanish conquered Mexico, they banned chia because of its religious uses and connotations.

What are superfoods and what are their health benefits?

It survived in certain regions of Mexico and has resurfaced in modern-day use as a much-touted nutritional powerhouse. Mexico’s Tarahumara tribe, who are known for their skills in long-distance running, drink a beverage called Iskiate that is made of chia seeds, lemon and water. (At least one TikTok user noted that Gioffre’s “internal shower” was an ancient tradition, not a new drink.)

Dr Nivedita Pandey, senior gastroenterologist at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi, India, says there has been a focus on immunity during the pandemic. “Having good gut health is paramount,” she says.

Gut bacteria can be out of balance because of food poisoning or unhealthy food choices, which affects immunity, something which chia seeds can help with.

“Chia seeds are a good source of fibre and are antioxidant-rich and good for gut health,” Pandey says. “But just because something is good for gut health, does not mean everyone should be having it.” She says choices should be made based on what suits a person.
Dr Nivedita Pandey, senior gastroenterologist at Max Super Speciality Hospital in Delhi. Photo: Courtesy of Dr Nivedita Pandey

Lime or lemon water is helpful in replenishing electrolytes, especially if taken with a pinch of sugar and salt, Pandey says. Citric foods are good antioxidants that help with digestion and hydration, keeping you energetic and preventing fatigue.

Chia seeds’ anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial for people with arthritis, and they have been found to be effective in reducing pain and inflammation. They also improve brain function and are good for those with an active physical lifestyle.
Indian nutritionist Kavita Devgan says the chia seed drink will work simply because water provides needed hydration and chia seeds are high in soluble fibre – they dissolve in water and turn to gel, and can absorb up to 27 times their weight in water. This adds bulk to stools and softens them, which is always good news for our gut’s functioning, she says.
Nutritionist Kavita Devgan. Photo: Courtesy of Kavita Devgan
Lemon juice taken early in the morning makes the stomach alkaline and provides a dose of vitamin C, “and that is helpful too”, Devgan says.

“But then there are other remedies which are natural and can help relieve and prevent constipation – from having three black grape raisins soaked in water overnight first thing in the morning, to a couple of figs at bedtime, or even fresh aloe vera in the morning which contains anthraquinones, a natural laxative.”

Some say that introducing too much fibre could lead to the opposite effect and cause further constipation or gas, bloating and cramping, and can also interfere with nutrient absorption. But the general consensus is that the internal shower can’t hurt and may help.

The internal shower has other health benefits besides its purported use for relieving constipation. Photo: Daryl Gioffre

“The internal shower is aptly named as it is a refreshing and ultra-hydrating elixir for your body,” says Akanksha Sinha, a nutritionist based in Pune, India. “The antioxidants from lemon and chia seeds boost immunity. The mix of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre is also known to be good for your skin and hair.”

Though the drink has great benefits, Sinha says, they may not be evident overnight.

“Also, one needs to be careful with adding too much fibre from the chia seeds and it is advised to start slow. It may not help when the drink is consumed [only] once or occasionally,” she says, recommending using the concoction regularly.

Why constipation happens and what to do about it

Another thing to be wary of: various creators on TikTok have made claims about the internal shower that are not yet backed by research, including that this drink can help eliminate parasites and improve kidney function.

Sheena Kumar, 36, is a marketing professional in Delhi who occasionally has the drink.

“Though the taste is not at all pleasing, I use it as a laxative once in a while, but I have some friends who claim it helps in weight loss and have it every morning,” Kumar says.

Why chia seeds are a superfood – but can be a risk for some

Shruthi Raman, 26, a fitness enthusiast in Bangalore, India, prefers having chia seeds in other concoctions.

“I prefer to add chia seeds to my smoothies, protein shake, oatmeal, salads and drinks like kombucha than add it to water as suggested, which makes it a gelatinous mess,” Raman says. “I also like to grind the seeds and add them to my breads and cakes.”

Nutritionists remind us that healthy digestion also depends on other foods and drinks that you consume, how you eat and chew your food, having a consistent exercise routine, and keeping stress levels in check.
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