What GI Doctors Think of the 'Internal Shower' Drink That's All Over TikTok

The extra fiber from chia seeds may get you moving—but there are easier ways to treat constipation.

cocktail of chia seeds with lemon in water
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Fact checked on June 8, 2022 by Vivianna Shields, a journalist and fact-checker with experience in health and wellness publishing.

In the past few weeks, a new trend has emerged on TikTok known as an "internal shower." The premise is simple enough: add two tablespoons of chia seeds to a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon, let the drink sit, and then down it as fast as you can in an effort to get things moving.

TikTok videos of the trend have garnered over 147 million views and counting. One user's video shows her trying the drink out so "you didn't have to," she wrote in the caption. "Much to my dismay, 15 minutes has passed, and it is now time to drink it," TikTok user Kelly Baums said, before chugging the beverage. "It's chunky," she added.

Others who have tried the concoction recommend it as a pre-flight drink to help prevent travel constipation. "I don't know about you, but after I fly, I'm so bloated and puffy and I just feel so gross, and I'm constipated," TikTok user Gracie Collins said. "So I made this little cocktail."

Most TikTok users who have tried the drink credit "Dr. Daryl" in their videos—they're talking about Daryl Gioffre, who is a board-certified chiropractor. Gioffre spoke about the internal shower on a recent episode of The Skinny Confidential Him & Her podcast.

"I have what's called a 'constipation reliever shot,'" Gioffre told the hosts. "This one is very easy to do: You take six ounces of water, you take two tablespoons of chia seeds, and one slice of organic lemon juice—ideally organic—and then you put the chia seeds into the water, squeeze the lemon; you have to let the chia seeds sit there for about five minutes." Once the chia seeds have plumped up, "you drink that on an empty stomach and it's like an internal shower," he said, calling it a "natural elimination."

So what do gastroenterologists think of this new internal shower drink on TikTok? We tapped a few to find out if the beverage is as helpful as it seems—and whether it has any downsides.

How the Internal Shower Drink Works

The internal shower drink isn't something that's regularly prescribed by gastroenterologists, but there is some validity to the claim that it will help you to pass stool. The main reasoning behind that is fiber.

"Chia seeds are a really high source of fiber," Reena Chokshi, MD, an assistant professor of gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine, told Health.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can't digest, and is important in aiding with digestion. Chia seeds are an example of a type of fiber called soluble fiber, which attracts water and turns to gel during digestion—this adds bulk to stool and helps it pass more smoothly. You can expect to get about 10 grams of fiber from a one-ounce serving of chia seeds—that's about two tablespoons.

According to Dr. Chokshi, when you combine the chia seeds with a "large liquid load, like drinking a glass of water, [it can help] propel your colon to move," she said. "The combination of this being high in fiber and the liquid load may help."

"It's like taking a couple of tablespoons of Metamucil," Rudolph Bedford, MD, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., told Health. "It will allow you to have bowel movements that should be soft."

Can You Eat Too Many Chia Seeds?

Because chia seeds are so high in fiber, eating too many at once can cause some digestive discomfort. "If you take too much chia seeds, it can definitely cause quite a bit of bloating and diarrhea," said Dr. Bedford, recommending people don't go over two tablespoons until their bodies are used to the extra fiber intake.

Since chia seeds also swell up when they come in contact with water, they may also be a choking risk for some people, especially if they're ingested without enough water. A 2017 case report identified a 36-year-old man who had severe difficulty swallowing after ingesting a tablespoon of dry chia seeds followed by a glass of water. Upon expanding with water, the chia seeds had obstructed his esophagus.

Some people may also be allergic to chia seeds, though this is a rare occurrence. Another 2015 report detailed the case of a 54-year-old man who added chia seeds into his diet. After a few days, the man developed urticaria (hives), along with facial swelling, shortness of breath, and dizziness.

Constipation Remedies and When to Seek Treatment

Constipation isn't necessarily normal, but it is common. Some remedies include: eating more fiber (not just through chia seeds), drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly. Over-the-counter fiber supplements or laxatives can also help with the process, said Dr. Bedford.

However, if you find yourself constantly looking for lifestyle hacks to help you with bowel movements, you should contact a health care provider. "They can adequately work up the potential causes of constipation and help you," said Dr. Bedford.

You should also seek medical care if your bowel movements have drastically changed without any major lifestyle changes. If you begin to see blood in your stool, if you haven't pooped in a week or longer, or if you have severe abdominal pain and vomiting along with constipation, you should see a health care provider.

But if you've been given a clear bill of health, have some chia seeds at home, and want to (safely) experiment with the internal shower drink, gastroenterologists say it should be safe to give it a try.

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